And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

Romans 8:28-31

The night of the 26th (February 26th) I came back to my home in Raleigh after spending the night in Durham at the home of a family from y home church. This past week, we began the Global Impact Celebration at Grace Church of Chapel Hill. It’s a wonderful occasion in which we bring in a number of missionaries–local, continental, and international–to share with us about their work in the Kingdom of God in their respective callings. I had a the great blessing of listening to an old friend of mine, David Chung, and his wife, Erin, talk about their wonderful calling and Kingdom-work in the Gospel-lacking metropolis of Vancouver, British Columbia.

It was a great blessing to meet up with them after a year since I visited them in Vancouver–tagging along with my friend Tim Gubitz. However, one thing I took home with me after the missionary session was finding out about VBS TV (http://www.vbs.tv/) which is an organization which films videos in war-torn, economically demolished countries and in other interesting areas around the world of varying topics. After spending about an hour of my night watching “The Vice Guide to North Korea,” I went on to watch “The Vice Guide to Liberia.” If I expected to go to sleep that night being the same person, then that was definitely not God’s plan.
Liberia can be simply described as hell on Earth. War. Poverty. Human Trafficking. Sexual Slavery. Every single kind of illegal drug. Disease. Inhuman living conditions. etc. etc. Liberia is all of this in abundance. Actually, let me change that: not in abundance, but Liberia is those very things. One wouldn’t be able to describe Liberia’s status quo in the world today without mentioning all these issues and more. A territory originally founded and colonized by the American Colonization Society (1821-1822) to give freed slaves a home back in Africa, suddenly became a reenactment of the United States when the freed American slaves became the owners and oppressors of the African natives they were already living in the territory of Liberia.

The 20th Century did not shine light upon this West African country. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Liberia experienced a terrible (which is pretty much an understatement) civil war in which dictatorial President Samuel Doe (a member of the original African people of the area) was ambushed, tortured, and killed by Prince Yormie Johnson, an Americo-Liberian who rose against the Doe government along with Charles Taylor. Eventually, Charles Taylor came to power after a bloody insurgency throughout the mid-90s and carrying on a brutal administration of death and persecution in Liberia. This led to the Second Liberian Civil War which ended with international UN intervention and the establishment of a shaky but standing transitional government.

Liberia today is what I described above. If you believe that my words are an exaggeration, you are under your right to disagree. However, whatever source you pick up will tell you the very same things. The UN is supposed to leave Liberia within the year, and the people and their leaders fear a return to the bloodshed and warfare of the 90s. Liberia’s fate is in question as the country continues to run out of time with each passing day.

However, in the midst of a terrestrial hell, there are some hints of hope. The 8th part to an 8-part documentary by VBS TV presents us to Joshua Blahyi, a former warlord from the 2nd Civil War who now hopes to transform his country through the power of social programs and the Gospel. Yes, I know. Sounds too good to be true, right? A former cannibalistic, violent, and vicious murderer now under the work of the Lord? Even though I originally approached this individual, Joshua Blahyi–former “General Butt Naked”–, with the same level of skepticism, I began to have hope. With each passing video and clip from the documentary, I began to trust that, if God cares for Liberia, He would most certainly open the doors for His Kingdom to take root–even in a terrestrial hell. Evangelist Joshua Blahyi, as he is now known throughout Monrovia, Liberia, stated at a Church service depicted in the last video:

“The Book of Romans. Chapter 8. Verse 28 says that ‘And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good For good! Not for evil! For good!”

I couldn’t help, being the Psychology minor that I am, to analyze his words, his expression, his body movements, and the way he interacted with everyone else. Shane Smith, the white guy who travels from place to place filming the VBS TV videos, expressed his own confusion: here was a former murderer, rapist, and cannibal (who had probably killed the relatives of people sitting in church listening to him) now preaching the Gospel from the Bible and people following him. This didn’t make sense. A moment after this statement Joshua Blahyi stated that many years from now, according to the morals of the world, he would still be a murderer and a monster–people would remember him as that. But, he stated, my children, my daughters will know me as a man who lived by the truth.

The state of confusion is completely understandable. How can a man change like this? Is this change true and honest? Will he go back to war and violence if war erupts when the UN leaves? Has Christ really taken hold of this old warrior’s heart?

In the end, the truth behind the new General Butt Naked (because he fought naked during the war), Joshua Blahyi, is between him and God. And the end of times, God will have always known Blahyi’s heart and whether Christ truly is Lord and Savior there. However, we can live with one conviction: as the Bible states, God works all things together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose. If Blahyi is true, then God will use him for His Glory and for the restoration and salvation of Liberia.

——————

Please, as you finish this post, have a quick moment of prayer for Liberia. Pray for the indigenous Liberian pastors and Christian leaders there: may God give them the love, wisdom, peace, and patience to carry out God’s Will for the Liberian people. May they be beacons of beautiful light in a terrestrial hell. To God be the glory. Amen.

Links:

http://www.vbs.tv

http://www.vbs.tv/watch/the-vice-guide-to-travel/the-vice-guide-to-liberia-1-of-8

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberia

Related Topic: http://www.invisiblechildren.com/home.php

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