This work is purposely written to delineate on the needs for mission execution in the African context specifically Liberia and the reason necessary to empower those needs. Such categories of needs include the physical, the pedagogical, the psychological, the emotional, and the spiritual needs. In responding to these needs from the local and the oversea churches’ approaches and perspectives, the local church decides to initiate charcoal and agricultural projects in the near future to fund the various needs in order to help pastors or church workers fulfill their calling and ministry while the oversea branch of the Praise Ministries International decides or plans to initiate education or training program and to use supplemental approaches to help the local church planting works in Liberia. It concludes while summarizing the goals of the projects with relative to mission agenda in Liberia.
HYPOTHESIS AND THESIS STATEMENT
In today’s mission works, the issue of finance and among others (poverty) serves as impediments to advancing kingdom works; nevertheless, this paper discusses the needs of mission and tends to address it in various arrays of strategic responses setting goals to alleviate some of the problems the mission works faced in Liberia in order to execute church planting endeavor both nationally and internationally.
The ideas concerning mission and how this can be done in order to fulfill biblical mandate are being hindered due to the lack of knowledge concerning the subject and the lack of necessary resources to execute mission endeavor in the African context; though, some nations like Nigeria in the 80’s had been involved in global mission with respect to evangelism and church planting. Nigeria in the 80’s had sent missionaries abroad when the Pentecostal movement had fused mission initiatives serving as the catalytic instrument to drive mission in the hearts of individuals and ministries. On the other hand, mission’s activities in the west especially in the Americas had been the agenda of Western Christianity since the 18th century. The idea of mission activity is rarely seen in the African context with respect to the number of countries that have previously been involved in mission as compared to the west; however, the initial mission initiative taken formerly by the west to send missionaries oversea had helped prepared the ground for mission works in Africa and elsewhere in the world. The initiative taken with respect to mission endeavor by the west has become a realization as the result of available resources to support mission in term of materials and money. Though mission had been around long ago because it began with God, many ministries in our time tend to ignore its mandate to the church. We as the church cannot ignore this mandate because it is tied to our obedience concerning the Great Commission. In this respect, Praise Ministries International endeavors to be involved in mission works as to fulfill divine mandate concerning the Great Commission (Matt. 28:16–20). It is upon this philosophy of mission mandate that our philosophy of ministry is tied to the Great Commission in three areas. They include education, evangelism, and church planting. To effect these areas of ministries objectively, the need for personnel in the administrative and pastoral platforms cannot be under looked or underestimated. In the same token, the need for available resources to empower personnel or workers in these areas of ministries is the bedrock for execution to maximize spiritual efficiency in the ministry. Making resources available to workers through projects’ initiatives, results to ministering to the physical, the pedagogical, the psychological, and the spiritual needs of church workers and consequently moves the ministry forward. Mission endeavor will be hindered if the needs of church workers are ignored.
Praise Ministries International has eight active pastors with the total church plant of six churches. The environment the churches are run are considered to be one of poorest nations of the world as the result of the sixteen years civil insurrection that destroyed its infrastructures and human resources coupled with the twelve years rule of government that refused to reverse the situation as the result of corrupt practices carried out by government officials. The wealth of the nation is being stolen and few people possess it. The lacks of these vitals taken away from the masses which sustain the country’s economy are inadequate; therefore, the economy of Liberia lacks equilibrium; this has brought extreme hardship on the rest of the Liberian population. To run ministry in such environment where people are suffering seems difficult and therefore limits church workers’ abilities to function effectively in the environment wherein pastors need money to take care of basic needs for themselves and their family members. As the ministry strives to plant new churches, it has the responsibilities to empower church workers financially so that they can pay attention to ministry’s works for effectiveness and efficiency; unfortunately, it has not been so due to the lack of necessities such as money. Money being the medium of exchange, it is necessary to exchange basic things such as food, medical services, transportations, housing, attires, and among other things. The author of Ecclesiastes writes, “A feast is made for laughter, and wine maketh glad the life; and money answereth all things (Eccl 10:19 ASV). Money has the power to provide the above mentioned necessities. There is great need for money to support our oversea missionaries as they plant churches within the suburbs and the interior of Liberia. When I spoke with Pastor Ezekiel V. Mardeh, the Co-Founder of Praise Ministries International, Inc, Liberia concerning the necessities for church workers, these are responses he gave me based on categories as indicated in the table below:
|Category||Quantity||Unit Price LD$||Amount LD$||Equivalent US$||Frequency|
|Bag of rice||6||6,000 00||36,000.00||360.00||Monthly|
Based on the above statistics, the projected budget to satisfy the above categories monthly are $270,000.000 LD and $1080.000 US respectively. The needs for food, medical, and housing in the African setting are necessary to sustain church workers; although, many people do not go to the health centers except the illness becomes critical that is life threatening. Many people live medically on drugs sold on the sidewalks or market places. Pharmacies are hardly found in the interior except in the urban places like Monrovia. Medications bought to deal with malaria parasites, headaches, diarrhea, pneumonia, yellow fever, yellow jaundice, and among others are purchased on the counter or the sidewalks. Some of these medications are expired drugs imported from India, Guinea, Nigeria, and the Ivory Coast. The sales of drugs in Liberia is not being regulated by government; therefore, anyone can open a drug store, table market, or walk in the street to sell counter drugs or sometimes drugs that require medical doctor’s approval. Health system is broken; therefore, many people die from minor illnesses that would not have caused death or people die because they took a prescription medication without being diagnosed with such problem or there was overdose of drugs taken due to lack of knowledge. The lack of medical necessities such as good health care centers in the nation, medical equipment, medications, and necessary services rendered by medical practitioners post challenges to missionaries’ health or church workers. The need for money superimposes on medical, housing, transportation, and food because money sustains all. The tendency for the church to provide the projected budget as mentioned above empowers church workers to do the work of ministry.
Food (Bag of Rice)
Liberia is situated on west coast of Africa and seven degrees north of the equator. Liberia has a tropical climate with six months of sunshine commonly called the dry season and six months of rainfall commonly called the rainy season. Liberia with these climatic characteristics is likely to grow tropical crops like rice, cassava, yarns, eddoes, bananas, and peppers. With rice being the stable food for the Liberian population, it is eaten more than any other foods. Comparing the price of rice in Liberia as compared to the United States, bag of rice is expensive in Liberia than the United States. One can buy a bag of rice in the United States for $50.00. There is a difference of $10.00. Looking at the employment opportunity in the United States to that of Liberia, there is no comparison because 98% of the Liberian populations are unemployed. Many people live on subsistence agriculture in providing for themselves. Formerly, the government of Liberia has not seen agriculture to be the back bone of any strong economy; therefore, money should have been allocated to encourage local farmers to invest in agricultural activity taking them from subsistence level to intensive or commercial agricultural method has been stolen as the result of corruption in the government. The government inability to invest in agriculture coupled with the sixteen years civil conflict has led the country to have shortages of rice. Most of the rice eaten in Liberia has been imported. Many people who live in the city areas live on bag of rice from oversea. The monthly budget for six bags of rice to feed six pastors is $360.00 US. Someone could say, the amount could be funded through tithes and offerings. If so, how many people are able to give during Sunday service when people are living under extreme poverty? I am not against giving neither do I discouraging people to give. The reality is that the Liberian economy is zero and people are suffering.
The Liberian health care system is very poor now prior to the civil uprising. The decline in the health care system is the result of the government inability to provide services to its citizenry due to corrupt practices seen in government. The inability for government to provide medical equipment to hospitals, drugs, build additional health institutions, pay its healthcare providers, and to provide education or training on personal hygiene has led to mortalities in the country during previous years. Many people died from the Ebola’s outbreaks in Liberia due to the failure of government to provide medical services and education to the populations. Living under this health extreme condition where government is not providing medical services to its people becomes critical for church workers who get sick. Many people in Liberia hardly visit government hospitals due to these factors. Many go to the nurses or doctors who work in these hospitals and are not well paid or paid as scheduled. The nurses or doctors who work in these hospitals steal the drugs and take them to their private clinics to treat people who pay for their services; as the result, government hospitals do not have drugs. This poses vulnerability to health issues for the majority populations in Liberia. People, who cannot afford the fees when they are sick, may likely die. It takes $120.00 US to take care of six pastors’ medical health monthly. This amount is projected for six pastors because many people hardly go to the hospital or visit a doctor unless under extreme cases.
Many people who do ministry in the city areas will eventually rent from a landlord especially those who are not members of the community. One gets a house to rent in the city areas for $10.00 or $20.00 on average depending on the kind of houses and their location. To live in a decent house on average, at least one should be able to pay $100.000 or $150.00 on the monthly basis. Based on the present condition as a ministry, we have projected $50.00 as the projected amount to take care of a pastor’s rent monthly. This amount will change gradually based on time and the condition of the ministry with respect to financial prosperity and stability.
One of the main problems of Liberia’s transportation is lack of good road network in the country. Unpaved roads in the country have hindered movement of people especially when the rainy season is in progress because roads become damaged due to erosion, porosity due to heavy rainfall, and ditches or potholes are created as motor vehicles move over them. Many people cannot afford to buy vehicles; therefore, pedestrians are 99% of the populations who pay travel fair or transportation fee for services rendered by people who own motor vehicles. Due to the lack of motor vehicles in some parts of the country and insufficient finance to pay for services, many people walk long distances to get to their destinations which is tiring and time consuming. The affordability of motor vehicles could ease these problems and therefore makes church workers mobile. When I spoke with Pastor Ezekiel V. Mardeh, he did not mention concerning the necessity of getting a vehicle for the ministry. Probably it is less cost-effective of paying for travel to vehicle owners who render services than owning a vehicle. There are disadvantages of owing a vehicle such as the cost of the vehicle, maintenance, bad road conditions, and among other things; nevertheless, it is convenient and most effective for doing ministry. The church can do much in term of evangelism and church planting if she has access to vehicles. It takes $20.00 monthly to transport a church worker or pastor. This transportation fee varies by places in the country. This fee is the average fee which correlates to the interior of Liberia and other places that are near the city areas. For major cities like Monrovia, the fee is higher than what is mentioned in the table for transportation. Indeed, transportation is a great need for ministry’s workers because church endeavors to plant new churches all over the country in the next five years.
The projected budget to educate our pastors through bible schools or colleges is $180.00 US monthly for six pastors on average. It takes $30.00 monthly to sponsor a pastor to a bible school or college. Knowing that knowledge is power, it pays investing in our pastors through education or training. This education program of church workers is one of the projects highlighted in our previous discussion concerning opening mini-bible teaching centers in Liberia where there will be seminars held for six months to teach biblical courses to church workers in order to equip them for ministry’s works. This pedagogical need is the great need in the ministry to prepare church workers biblically and intellectually to minister to their congregations with sound biblical doctrine free from errors or heresies.
Many pastors or church workers who are seem ministering to congregations on the periodical basis may not admit that they need counseling because they feel superior; notwithstanding, we all need counseling in some areas of lives. It could be the manners we treat our spouses, children, or neighbors, the issue of giving, crisis in homes, divorce issues, infidelity in marital relationship, sex before marriage, pornography, sexual impurities, anger problem, laziness, unforgiving spirit, and among other things. Church workers face these problems while ministering to their congregations. It takes the teaching of the word of God coupled with Christian counseling with compliance from parties involved to experience emotional, spiritual, or psychological healing. Pastors or church workers who carry these issues cannot be effective in the Christian services; therefore, there is a need for counseling to help church workers succeed in their calling and ministry. During the telephone interview with Pastor Ezekiel V. Mardeh, these are some of the areas he pinpointed. There is the need for emotional or psychological counseling.
Someone may say that church workers or pastors do not need to be ministered to when it comes to spiritual needs because they are the ones who teach and preach the word of God. Indeed they need bible teaching so that they can minister to their congregations they have been assigned to. Paul writes, “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others (2 Timothy 2:2 NIV). Pastoral conferences are necessary and are identified meaningfully to be held in Praise Ministries International to teach pastors or church workers biblical teaching who also will reliably entrust this teaching to qualified individuals to teach church workers the same. Pastors or church workers do not only need biblical teaching, but they also need prayers. Paul writes, “Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel,for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should” (Eph 6:19–20 NIV). The primary spiritual resources for pastors or church workers are biblical teaching and prayers. Pastors or church workers should have quiet time to meditate and to pray. These are universal Christian spiritual needs or resources in Christendom. To avoid spiritual suicidal, Christians must adopt them (God’s word and prayers) in daily living in this diabolical world.
LOCAL CHURCH STRATEGIC RESPONSES
During this research with relative to the needs to empower mission in Liberia, led to the identification of needs for pastors or church workers with respect to physical/pedagogical, psychological/emotional, and spiritual needs. In order to provide physical and spiritual resources to meet the above need categories, three areas of strategic responses have been identified as project earmarked to be undertaken by Praise Ministries International as soon as possible. The three areas include the Charcoal Project, the Agricultural Project, and the Pastoral Conferences.
Charcoal is widely used in Liberia as the result of its economic importance to serve the Liberian populations. It is used for cooking food especially in urban areas where many people do not have access to electricity, electric stove, or gas stove. In many parts of the interior of Liberia, charcoal is used to cook food in restaurant, in homes, and many places. It is convenient to use charcoal because it does not smoke as the ordinary fire wood would do; therefore, many people prefer using charcoal rather than fire wood. Based on its economic importance to the Liberian population, Praise Ministries International will embark on the charcoal project to fund the needs of church workers or pastors as specified in the table. According to the information gathered with respect to the price of one bag of charcoal, a bag of charcoal is $400.00 LD ($4.00 US). If a bag of charcoal is sold at $400.00 LD giving the equivalent to $4.00 US; then, 1000 bags of charcoal gives $400,000.00 LD which is $4000.00 US. The implementation of the Charcoal Project will help alleviate the financial burden faced by the ministry in Liberia to meet the needs of church workers and among other things. To carry out this project as identified by Pastor Ezekiel V. Mardeh and me, the need for equipment or tools such as power chain saws to fell the trees and have them cross-cut for the charcoal production is immediate. One chain saw is costing us $1,500.00 US in Liberia
The next project identified is the Agricultural Project is turning sites into farms. The sites used to fell trees during the charcoal project will be turned into farms to plant cash crops such as peppers, groundnuts, rice, bitter balls etc. These products will be sold and the money obtained from the sale will be used for new church plants endeavors. This project will serve as the back bone for ministry’s empowerment with respect to financial prosperity and stability.
The last projects identified to meet the psychological/emotional and spiritual needs of pastors or church workers are pastoral counseling or Conferences. Praise Ministries International will conduct Christian counseling for pastors or church workers who need it while at the same time have periodical pastoral conferences to teach church leaders on Christian stewardship.
OVERSEA CHURCH STRATEGIC RESPONSES
Praise Ministries International is incorporated with the State of North Carolina with the 501 C (3) status and it is based in Charlotte. We as church here have a fatherly responsibility to empower the church in Liberia. The three strategic responses to empower the church’s works in Liberia include education/training, supplementations or follow-ups.
Praise Ministries International will organize short term mission trip for Liberia to conduct education or training for church workers in various disciplines not limited to the bible. Training such as the use of agricultural equipment, tools, book keeping, secretariat science, English, and preaching seminar for church workers will be among the subjects taught.
Praise Ministries International of the United States will supplement the project endeavor in Liberia by sending money to purchase the power chain saw, adding monetary value to the projected budget to fund the needs, and doing follow-ups to see if the project materializes.
To achieve a specific goal in life, there must be activities or objectivities created to compensate the underlying goal; in this light, Praise ministries International has created the above mentioned objectives under strategic responses from the local or oversea church responses to meet the long term goal. The long term goals for these projects are to effect financial empowerment and ministry’s expansions.
Historical Overview of Pentecostalism in Nigeria:Origins and Growth, No Pages, Cited18January 2018: http://www.pewforum.org/2006/10/05/historical-overview-of-pentecostalism-in-nigeria/.
 Historical Overview of Pentecostalism in Nigeria:
Origins and Growth, n.p [Cited 18 January 2018]: http://www.pewforum.org/2006/10/05/historical-overview-of-pentecostalism-in-nigeria/.