This guest post is brought to us by Pastor Shawn R. from California.
Our team recently returned from Liberia with some fantastic memories. The highlight for me was doing a leadership retreat for some teenagers from the VisionTrust schools around Monrovia, some of which our youth group at our church sponsors. We spent two days teaching these youth what it means to be a leader in the church. The theme for the two days was ‘It’s My Turn’ and we gave each one a racing baton to signify that it is their turn to take up the baton of leadership for the church in Liberia.
A specific highlight of the weekend for many of us happened after we taught them what it means to love people through the Good Samaritan story. We thought it would be a good idea to actually go out into the community and live out what it means to be a Good Samaritan. So, we split up into two groups and let the students decide how they wanted to love their neighbor, because they were all from this surrounding community. Jim’s group of guys (3 students) decided to go to a woman’s house who had stopped coming to church recently. They went and talked to the woman and after lots of options were discussed, settled on cooking dinner for the elderly lady. They went to the market, bought an entire meal, including a few chickens, went back to the house, prepared the chickens, prepared the vegetables and cooked the meal for her. She was extremely grateful.
My group, which included 5 guys and 3 girls (and 3 white people), decided to show some love to a member of the leadership group from last year. This teenage girl had fallen on tough times in the fall and was not able to participate in the leadership retreat this year. She had also been full of shame and ostracized by the community because she had become pregnant. Because she is also supported by our youth group at our church, we had some gifts from the US for her, including a baby blanket from my wife who had traveled with us and loved on her last year. The Liberian students also decided to buy a 20 lb bag of rice for her. So, we went to her house and loved her and blessed her and her family. It was an amazing moment for me personally, but for the students as well. We went back and discussed how this is exactly what Jesus would have done – shown incredible love to someone who felt so much shame.
At the end of the second day we ‘graduated’ the students. What an amazing time, and what makes it even more special is that four of the students are returnees from last year. We hope to go back next year to continue the relationships and continue to pour into this next generation of leaders.
At the end of the week, we saw some of the fruit of this labor. A subset of this group has begun doing a Bible Study twice a week, led by Siakor Sundah, the wife of the Liberia Country Director. What a privilege to see this small group of teenagers taking their faith seriously and desiring to someday take their turn in leading the People of God in Liberia. God is Good!