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Witnessing Before Rulers and Kings
Article by Dr. Mark Ottenweller, HOPE worldwide, Director of Global AIDS Programs
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the President of Liberia and the2012 Nobel Peace Prize Winner, asked me if our church was involved in helping the poor in Monrovia, Liberia. “Yes, absolutely, “I said. “We believe that every church member should be teaching and preaching, and helping and healing just like Jesus did.” She nodded her approval. “In fact,” I continued, “All our work in Africa has been based on Isaiah 61 from which we believe that we are anointed by the Holy Spirit to preach goodnews to the poor, bindup the broken-hearted, comfort those who mourn, provide for those who grieve. Bestow on them a crown of beauty, instead of ashes, oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. I believe that these orphans will become oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.”
My eyes welled up with tears as I thought of Matthew 10:18-20 about speaking “before governors and kings as witnesses to them…for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” I think that we were all a bit stunned and then the President thanked us for all of our work. We discussed HOPE worldwide and its food distribution to support groups at JFK Hospital, Redemption Hospital, ELWA Hospital, and St. Joseph’s Catholic Hospital. We spoke of our work in Africa with orphans and our plans for Liberia with her, the Director of the National AIDS Program, and the Deputy Minister of Health whom the President had invited to join us.
Liberia went through a terrible civil war that lasted from 1989 to 2003 under some of the most ruthless leaders on earth. More than 240,000 people died. Presently, it is the second poorest country in the world with 85% of the population living on less than $1 per day. It is one of the poorest places I’ve ever visited. Unemployment has reached 75% and many citizens are malnourished and hungry. There are 340,000 orphans due to AIDS and war in a country of 4,000,000. President Johnson Sirleaf has done a great job but the people of Liberia really need our assistance. All the support group members made desperate appeals for food, educational support, and income generating activities - very basic needs in an impoverished nation.
The Holy Spirit wants us to help them and I think that we can and that we should help - just like Jesus would. Let Luke 4:16-21 be fulfilled in Liberia and wherever you are today.
Learn more about HOPE worldwide and join us in bringing hope and changing the lives of the poor visit www.hopeww.org.