Liberia—Kingdom Increase Despite War
CIVIL war has raged in Liberia for over a decade. By the middle of 2003, rebels had battled their way into the capital city, Monrovia. Many of Jehovah’s Witnesses were forced to flee from their homes, sometimes repeatedly. Time and again, possessions were looted.
Sadly, during the fighting in the capital, thousands of people were killed. Among them were two Witnesses, one brother and one sister. How did other brothers deal with the hardship, and what was done to help them?
Aid for Those in Need
Throughout the crisis, the Liberia branch office of Jehovah’s Witnesses organized relief for those in need. Food, essential household items, and medical supplies were provided. During the time that the rebels were in control of the port area, food became scarce. The branch had foreseen this development and had supplies on hand for the two thousand Witnesses who had fled to Kingdom Halls throughout the city. The brothers rationed the food so that supplies lasted until the port was reopened. The Belgium and Sierra Leone branches flew in medical supplies, and the Britain and France branches supplied shipments of clothing.
In spite of the desperate situation, our brothers remained positive and cheerful. The comment of one who fled from his home three times was typical of many. He said: “These are the conditions we preach about; we are living in the last days.”
Response to the Good News
Despite the nationwide turmoil, the Witnesses continue to have excellent results in the field. There was an all-time peak of 3,879 Kingdom publishers in January 2003, and in February they conducted 15,227 home Bible studies.
People are quick to respond to the good news. An example of this comes from a village in the southeastern part of the country. A congregation planned to observe the Memorial of Christ’s death in the large village of Bewahn, located about a five-hour walk from where they usually meet. Before the brothers went to the village to invite people to the Memorial, an invitation was given to the mayor of Bewahn. When he received it, he took his Bible, went to the villagers, and read a scripture shown on the invitation, encouraging them to attend the Memorial. So when the publishers arrived, they found that their work had been done for them! The mayor, along with his children and two wives, came to the Memorial. In all, 27 people attended. Since then, the mayor has left the Methodist Church, started to study with the Witnesses, and offered land to build a Kingdom Hall.
A Change of Heart
The conduct of our brothers has also been effective in changing some opposers’ view of the truth. Consider the case of a man named Opoku. A special pioneer minister met him in field service and offered him a Watchtower magazine. Opoku was interested in an article in the magazine but had no money. Explaining that there was no charge, the pioneer left the magazine with him and arranged to call back. On the return visit, Opoku asked the pioneer: “Do you know me? Most of your people in the town of Harper know me. I used to throw your children out of school!” He then explained that he was the principal of a high school in the town and that he had persecuted the children of Jehovah’s Witnesses for not saluting the flag.
However, three examples of Christian love displayed by Jehovah’s Witnesses caused Opoku to reexamine his attitude. First, he saw the Witnesses care for a spiritual brother who was seriously sick. They even arranged for him to receive treatment in a neighboring country. Opoku had thought that the sick brother was a “big man” among the Witnesses but learned that he was just an ordinary Witness. Second, during the 1990’s, Opoku was a refugee in Côte d’Ivoire. One day when he was thirsty, he went to purchase water from a young man. Opoku had only a large bill, and the young man did not have any change, so he let Opoku have the water without charge. When he handed Opoku the water, the young man asked: “Do you think we will ever see a time when people like you and me will give things to one another without asking for money?” Opoku guessed that he was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the young man confirmed that he was. The generosity and kindness of this brother impressed him. Finally, the special pioneer’s willingness to let him have a magazine free of charge convinced Opoku that his view of the Witnesses was wrong and that he needed to change. He made spiritual progress and is now an unbaptized publisher.
Though the brothers in Liberia continue to face extremely difficult conditions, they trust in God and faithfully proclaim the good news of better times under the righteous rule of God’s Kingdom. Jehovah will never forget their hard work and the love they show for his name.—Hebrews 6:10.
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During times of crisis, Jehovah’s people provide spiritual and physical aid to those in need