By Helen Roberts-Evans, missionary educator in Liberia
April 2020 | ATLANTA
So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. Luke 11:9 NRSV
Holy Week becomes a time for fellowship and play for grade-schoolers in Liberia. Every year for the past several years, the Rev. Jacob Nathan has organized and led a camp for grade school children. Last year, we had Easter Camp on the campus of the Zacchaeus Garjay United Methodist School (UMS) in Gboko Town, Grand Bassa County, Liberia. The camp was from Monday, April 15, to Easter Sunday, April 21. I was with the campers on Thursday and Good Friday. The 78 campers hailed from Garjay United Methodist School, schools in Buchanan, our J. F. Yancy UM school on Camphor Mission, and nearby towns, with one camper even coming from Monrovia. They participated in worship, Bible quizzes and sports. They watched movies, including Akeelah and the Bee, and had time to eat together and relax. We thank the Central Church in Oslo, Norway, and First UMC in Ann Arbor, Michigan, for supporting this opportunity for children to come together to learn, play and worship.
Seek and you shall find
Since 2016, I had been promising Macon UMC in Michigan that I would find Henry Deputy UMC in Grand Bassa County. Since I was in the country for the Easter Camp, I decided to fulfill that promise. On April 22, 2019, I finally found it. T-Mark Phillip, a teacher at Garjay UM School, knows all the churches in the St. John River District. Easter Monday is a holiday in Liberia, so schools were closed, and T-Mark was free to travel. We rode for over an hour through the Liberia Agriculture Company rubber plantation. The roads became narrower until finally, there was no road. We left the motorbike in Bansaygaye Town and walked through the forest to Weebo, where Henry Deputy UMC is located. The members didn’t know I was coming, but when we were in Bansaygaye Town, news spread quickly, and someone rang the church bell. People from Bansaygaye Town, Briggs Town, and Weebo came to the church to meet with me.
May we find joy in the laughter and play of children this Easter season as we celebrate the resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ. May we find what we are looking for, like those who arrived at His tomb and found the stone rolled away, and celebrate our discovery of new friends, new communities, and new truths. We thank you, God, that the Church is not a building, but the people who are called out to be one with you. We thank you that wherever we are and whoever we are, we can gather together in one spirit – your spirit of love. Amen.
Helen Roberts-Evans is the associate director for supervision of the Department of General Education and Ministry of The United Methodist Church in Liberia.