Well, I’ve been home for just over a week now, and I can’t believe how much I miss Liberia and its people.
I’m not gonna lie—it was a real culture shock at first. Stepping off the plane in Monrovia felt like stepping off a ship that just landed on a different planet.
The heat is the first thing to hit you. Then you must endure the sheer chaos of arrivals, passport control, immigration, and finally, luggage retrieval. They all come with a story that I don’t have time to get into now, but believe me, they’re worth a listen one day!
The 40 minute drive to the church ended up taking over 2 hours. We couldn’t see what condition the roads were in, but trust me, we felt every bump along the way. It was pitch black outside. Not a single street light in sight. I learned later that they were all destroyed during the 14 years of civil war.
Our son Daniel and I were shocked when we woke up the next morning and were driven to the church. I knew that poverty existed in Liberia, but we had no way to prepare for what we were seeing. The dirt roads were destroyed by the war, and have not been maintained at all—severe potholes, narrow lanes, zero traffic lights, 100 motorbikes for every car on the road…all of this contributed to the traffic and congestion of the city.
Simple wood framed houses with tin roofs lined the streets as we drove by. Hundreds of peddlers lined the streets, selling drinks, snacks, and anything else you could imagine. Four to five people per bike, no helmets…no rules. The heat was almost unbearable.
Our hosts, Sam-Abel Gbinsay and his family have made countless sacrifices to pastor and reach the people of their community. They have lost family and finances for choosing to follow the call of God on their lives. I believe that God is restoring, and will continue to restore to them, everything that the enemy has tried to take.
The church is a very simple building. It also currently serves as the school for 167 children. The rooms are tiny and school desks are in short supply. The children received us with incredible sweetness and thanks. The parents were overjoyed as their children received brand new, high-quality, custom-made uniforms. They all received brand new backpacks, shoes, toothbrushes, toothpaste and bars of soap.
The disbelief of the parents comes from an unfortunate history. Many Pastors have raised money in the past from people in the west, but somehow, the money never made it to their destination. When they saw us actually handing the kids what we promised we would, our credibility went up 1000%.
The morning sessions for Pastors and leaders was received with gratitude and hunger. Liberia has a history of visiting ministers who preach a message that is designed to fill their pockets. They mix voodoo, witchcraft and Christianity to extract exorbitant amounts from the people. And, by the way, the average Liberian in this community earns between $40-50 USD per month.
When I began teach the Bible from a Hebraic Roots perspective, that they eventually came to call “Going Backstage with Pastor Joe”, the reception was unlike anything I have ever experienced in my 17 plus years of travelling around the world. The evening sessions grew each night as the word spread to neighbouring towns and villages. A deep hunger for the Word of God was evident in the people. It was an absolute honour to pour into these precious people.
Day after day, every car we had broke down. We were stranded several times, and each time, the Lord was gracious and supplied another vehicle. The head Apostle for the region, Daniel Seekor, eventually gave us his own vehicle to use, and even drove us for hours so that we could bring clothing to the children in the village of Kartoe Town. We were the first people in the history of the village to visit them and to bring clothing. They were blown away. I remember crying after the visit. I was so humbled by the simplicity of how these precious people were forced to live. No electricity. No water. Just a simple faith in their Creator.
We made the most incredible connection as we drove back to the hotel from our visit to the village. A man called out to Apostle Daniel, they had a brief conversation before we drove off. They told me the man was Joshua Milton Blahyi, formerly known as General Butt Naked. Google him. He was one of the most notorious Warlords in African history. He had an incredible encounter with Christ that has completely transformed him into a powerful preacher and man of God. I was able to preach for him on our last day of ministry in Liberia. The response was explosive. The power of God hit the room and everyone went nuts. I’ve never experienced a service like it in my life.
I came away full—my heart and spirit are absolutely full. God broke my heart for these people and has lit a passion and fire in my soul. I’m already booked to go back January 9-20, 2020. We’re praying and believing God for miraculous provision. The goal is to dig two wells that will cost $13,500 and supply fresh water for 10,000 people in the church’s community.
We’re also believing God for an off-road vehicle as we travel deeper and deeper into the jungle to minister to several unreached villages and tribes. The cost is around $6000. Trust me, we NEED a reliable vehicle as we go into the jungle and away from civilization.
I know that many people see Liberia as an undesirable location. It’s hot, it’s expensive, it’s dirty, it’s filled with corruption, and on and on the list goes. And, all these things are true…BUT…this is also true…Liberia is filled with 5 million precious people that God cares about and that He has called us to!
So, I want to thank all of you for your generous support of this ministry. All that we have been able to do is because of your faithfulness. I’ll try to express it, but you’ll never truly know how many lives you have impacted with your giving. Every dollar brings a lifetime of water to a person living in poverty. Every $20 buys a child a brand new uniform. Every gift—no matter the size—will help us get the vehicle we need to visit the people who are in need.
We love you guys very much. We are so honoured and humbled that so many of you have decided to partner with us on this incredible journey. Your support—financial, morale, and prayer—means the world to us.
So, from everyone here…Thank you and God bless you!
Joe and Karen Amaral