Liberia
Republic of Liberia
July 27
Africa


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GEOGRAPHY

Area 99,067 sq.km. Heavily forested coastal state adjoining Sierra Leone, Guinea and Côte d'Ivoire.

Population Ann.Gr. Density
2000 3,154,001 +8.58% 32 per sq. km.
2010 4,443,705 +3.32% 45 per sq. km.
2025 6,617,526 +2.49% 67 per sq. km.

In the 1990s 250,000 were killed and over 1,000,000 became refugees abroad. About 500,000 Liberians still remain in surrounding lands.

Capital Monrovia 1,150,000. About half the population are civil war refugees. Urbanites 45%.

PEOPLES

There are 16 major ethnic groups divided in three language families. These figures include refugees in surrounding lands.

Mande 47.2%. 11 groups, largest: Kpelle 690,000; Mano 252,000; Loma 200,000; Gio 147,000; Vai 126,000; Bandi 100,000; Mandingo 60,000.

Kru 41.3%. Over 25 groups, largest: Bassa 492,000; Grebo(8) 387,000; Kru (Klao) 261,000; Krahn(3) 140,000.

West Atlantic 7.9%. Kissi 143,000; Gola 140,000.

Other 3.6%. Americo-Liberian 87,000; Lebanese 30,000.

Refugees Many Sierra Leoneans.

Literacy 38% (64% in 1990). Official language English. All languages 34. Languages with Scriptures 1Bi 12NT 5por 8w.i.p.

ECONOMY

Well-watered, abundant natural resources of iron, diamonds, rubber, timber, etc. Not over-populated, but the country has been made destitute by decades of institutionalized corruption by an elite (up to 1980) and ensuing chaos and civil wars. Much of the capital, road system and most of the buildings have been destroyed and much farmland reverted to forest. Recovery will take decades – even with an upright government. Unemployment 95%. Public debt 95% of GNP. Income/person $490 (1.6% of USA).

POLITICS

In 1847 Liberia became Black Africa's first independent state. The dominance of the Liberians of American origin ended in the coup of 1980. The military government became increasingly unstable. Massive corruption and repression of the Mano and Gio peoples provoked the 1989 revolution led by Charles Taylor. The war engulfed the country in an orgy of inter-tribal killings and, ultimately, three armies contending for power. The West African States (ECOWAS) military intervention proved a disaster which prolonged the civil war until 1996 which resulted in Taylor gaining power first by military action and then in a flawed election in 1997. An uneasy peace has prevailed since then, but all opposition has been silenced.

RELIGION

Liberia was founded as a Christian state. There continues to be freedom of religion in theory, but in practice there is pressure on Christians to conform to occult secret societies. Religious and denominational figures are mostly estimates due to massive numbers fleeing the civil war.

Religions Population % Adherents Ann.Gr.
Traditional ethnic 48.37 1,525,590 +7.8%
Christian 38.33 1,208,929 +8.6%
Muslim 13.00 410,020 +11.3%
Baha'i 0.30 9,462 n.a.

Christians Denom. Affil.% ,000 Ann.Gr.
Protestant 39 13.91 439 +8.0%
Independent 144 6.90 218 +6.6%
Anglican 1 0.87 28 +4.6%
Catholic 1 3.49 110 +2.6%
Marginal 1 0.12 4 +1.2%
Unaffiliated   13.04 411 n.a.

Churches MegaBloc Cong. Members Affiliates
Baptist Convention P 229 60,000 110,000
Catholic C 70 68,323 110,000
United Methodist P 1,058 55,000 110,000
Assemblies of God P 350 22,000 48,000
Lutheran [2] P 109 17,500 35,000
African Chr Fell. IntI I 200 15,000 30,000
Seventh-day Adventist P 35 14,564 28,000
Episcopal A 177 17,857 27,500
United Lib. Inland (ULIC) P 64 7,000 18,000
United Pentecostal P 70 10,000 15,000
Mid-Liberia Baptist P 60 3,000 6,000
Open Bible Standard P 30 2,200 4,500
Presbyterian P 12 1,200 3,000
Other denoms [172]   2,028 124,764 253,000
Total Christians [186]   4,492 418,000 798,000

Trans-bloc Groupings pop. % ,000 Ann.Gr.
Evangelical 9.1 288 +9.1%
Charismatic 4.7 147 +6.8%
  Pentecostal 3.1 98 +3.9%

Missionaries from Liberia
P,I,A est. 30+. Unknown because of political situation.

Missionaries to Liberia
P,I,A Approximately 172 assigned to Liberia, many not resident in 2000, or ministering from outside the country.



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Answers to Prayer

1 The ending of the fighting in 1996 and the relative peace has allowed some recovery for the suffering population.

Challenges for Prayer

1 The civil war was a tragedy for Liberia, the country was devastated and the people traumatized. It was also a blight that poisoned much of West Africa, especially Sierra Leone and increasingly Guinea. Its roots lay in deep ethnic hatreds, greed, lust for power and in a compromised Christianity that gave Satan opportunity. Pray specifically for:

a) A government and leadership that rejects oppression, institutional violence and the endemic culture of extortion and corruption.

b) A reconciliation between the ethnic groups which were involved in fighting, atrocities and massacres – especially the Mandingo and Krahn on one side and the Mano and Gio on the other.

c) A healing of the terrible physical, psychological and spiritual wounds of the war – 65% of the population have been, and many are still, refugees. Almost the entire population have either been victims or perpetrators of unspeakable crimes.

d) The rescue of the children of war. Little children were forced to become soldiers. Over 50,000 were killed in the fighting and in 1996 there were still 15,000 carrying guns. All 1,400,000 children under 17 have been traumatized, lost their education and many orphaned. Hunger, violence, homelessness and drug abuse are widespread. Pray for churches and agencies seeking to repair some of the damage, restore family life and bring them the gospel.

2 For decades Christians compromised with evil on an alarming scale. Freemasonry imported by the early settlers fused with indigenous tribal secret societies to become a pervasive influence that corrupted and compromised politics and nearly every denomination, whether mainline, evangelical or Pentecostal. During the war, Christians who refused to compromise were persecuted in some areas. Stagnation, failure of the gospel to advance in Liberia's hinterland, lack of concern for the lost, and spiritual impotence so widespread in the churches are due to condoned sin, witchcraft, alcoholism and polygamy among 'Christians'. Pray for the binding of these spiritual forces, and for a new day of freedom and power in the Holy Spirit for the Church.

3 There are signs of hope. The agony of the nation has driven Christians to new prayer and earnestness for the gospel. Christians have had miraculous deliverances, soldiers have repented of horrible crimes, new leaders with vision have been raised up and there have been localized revivals in the midst of sorrow. Since the war ended over 150 churches have been started. The Association of Evangelicals has regrouped and begun to lay plans for future reconstruction and evangelization. Pray that out of the fires may come a purified Church that can bring reconciliation between ethnic groups, a blessing to the many needing spiritual help and can resume the incomplete evangelization of the country.

4 There are serious challenges facing the church:

a) Repair of church buildings and reactivation of institutions closed. Looting and destruction spared few.

b) False teachings have multiplied due to many Christian leaders lost or fleeing for their lives. Pray for firmer doctrinal and spiritual standards to be laid.

c) African independent churches. These are often syncretistic, but open for sensitive teaching. CRWM has had a ministry to them, helping them to a more biblical faith.

5 Ministry to individuals, families and to Liberian society – impoverished, embittered and demoralized through what they have suffered – is essential. This has to be largely a Liberian initiative. Pray for CURE (Christians United to Rehabilitate Ex-combatants) and ACCESS giving help to resettle displaced farmers. Foreign aid agencies poured in help and supplies, but unwittingly became prolongers of the war – the combatants stole the food, vehicles and aid intended for their victims. Most foreign agencies had to withdraw much of their ministry. Pray for wisdom for WVI, World Relief, TEAR Fund, YWAM and many others who are seeking to give assistance.

6 Ministry to young people and children has been halted by war and a whole generation of children needs to be evangelized. Pray for the ministry of SU, YFC and the churches, to children and young people. IFES is rebuilding its ministry to students.

7 Trained spiritual leaders are few in number. Many have had to flee or been killed; most Bible training was brought to a halt or struggles to survive with limited resources and personnel. Some refugees studied theology in the West or elsewhere in Africa and are returning with wider vision. Others have planted thriving churches among the Liberian diaspora. Bible schools and seminaries are slowly opening and rebuilding – the Baptist Seminary, Africa Bible College and ACFI Bible School among them. Pray for the raising up of a new generation of leaders who preach the whole gospel without compromise, competitiveness or jealousies.

8 Islam's rapid expansion has slowed. Muslim Mandingo support for the previous, largely Krahn, regime, their cruelty to Christians in areas where they were in the majority, and their relative wealth provoked a cruel response from other tribes. Many Mandingo were killed or fled to Guinea, and up to 1,000 mosques were destroyed or damaged. Liberia was to have been a major centre for Islamic growth in West Africa – one of the factors that provoked the war. Pray for the winning of many Muslims to Christ.

9 Less-reached peoples. Of all Liberia's indigenous peoples, only three are majority Christian, despite considerable exposure to the gospel. Most still follow traditional religions; some are Muslim. There are 16 peoples in which there is not yet a viable, growing, indigenous church-planting movement. Pray for:

a) Muslim groups: the Vai (CRWM) in the west with about 500 Christians and Mende and Manya (SIM) of the northern borders are largely Muslim with few active Christians.

b) Traditional peoples with growing Muslim influence: the Dewoin (8,000) near Monrovia and the Gola and Gbandi in the north. Both are turning to Islam, but have small Christian communities (SIM).

c) Peoples with strong fetish powers and where a victorious gospel power-encounter must yet come: Krahn in northeast (9% Christian, AoG, IMB-SBC), Grebo in east (AoG, NTM) and Kpelle with relatively few committed Christians.

10 Missionaries have had a long, hard, uphill struggle to plant churches in the interior – disease, language diversity, entrenched fetishism and now the disruption of war since 1989 have all hampered the work. About 10 Protestant and Catholic missionaries have lost their lives in the conflict. All had to leave the country in 1996, a few have returned to minister in Monrovia and among the large refugee communities in surrounding lands. Pray for wisdom about the return of expatriates to assist in rebuilding the work so painstakingly established in the past and also to help the Liberian church complete the evangelization of every people. The largest missions before the war were: SIM, United Methodists, NTM, Baptist Mid-Missions, Lutheran Bible Translators, North American Lutherans, IMB-SBC and CRWM. National mission leadership is making progress in researching the nation's current status in terms of evangelization, and in missions advocacy among churches.

11 Christian Help Ministries for prayer:

a) Bible translation and distribution ministries were gravely disrupted. The Bible Society has recommenced operations but many of the seven Lutheran Bible Translators' projects have been delayed. There are still 11 languages with a definite translation need.

b) Christian literature. Many pastors and Christians have lost all they owned, and there is a great lack of Bibles, New Testaments and Christian literature but few available bookstores. EHC plans a new nation-wide literature distribution.

c) The JESUS film has been viewed by the majority of the population and has had converting impact on Muslims. It is available in four languages and a further 11 are in the production stage.

d) GRN has now a Liberian base and their tape recordings are being used in 42 languages and dialects.

e) Christian radio. Until its destruction in 1990 and again in 1996, SIM's Radio ELWA was Africa's best known station, with 270 hours/week broadcasting in 44 languages. Praise God for the years of seed-sowing and discipling ministry. In February 2000 ELWA was once more resurrected – six hours daily English broadcasting but there are plans for 16 languages to be broadcast. Pray for their realization, provision of equipment and funds, and also peace and safety to permit resumption of the ministry.


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