Liberian School Built by Vision, Faith, and Partnership
June 9, 2016
Isaac Monah’s home was destroyed and his younger brother was killed during the first of two civil wars in Liberia. He fled to the Ivory Coast, where he helped an American anthropology student track monkeys in the jungle. There, they talked about faith, and Isaac memorized a new word: Presbyterian. Moving to Ghana, he earned a high school diploma at age 27.
When Isaac later immigrated to the United States, he saw a church sign with the word “Presbyterian” and he entered. He later became an elder at the church, Noble Road Presbyterian Church in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. After a bittersweet visit to Liberia, Isaac talked to his pastor, the Rev. Francis Miller, about witnessing poverty, malnutrition and devastation there. The pastor caught Isaac’s enthusiasm to build a school in Liberia, where the average person receives 3.93 years of education. Together they shared their dream with the session and congregation. The congregation could not provide the necessary financial resources, but fueled the duo with energy and support as they sought out US and Liberian partnerships.
For a while, little happened. Then Isaac, who had become a nurse’s aide, cared for a man with brain cancer. The man’s parents attended Hopewell Presbyterian Church in Shreve, Ohio. They learned about Isaac’s idea and believed in his vision, making Hopewell the project’s first partner church. Then other congregations joined in. A former Noble Road pastor, working at the United Nations, offered a letter of support.
The result? Dougbe River Presbyterian School opened on November 30, 2012. A well was dug and nearby bridges were repaired by a German hunger and poverty aid group. A Presbyterian-based health organization helped with transportation and communication.
A parent-teacher organization formed and, by year’s end, six teachers were teaching 104 students, including girls. Shut down but not broken by the Ebola crisis, the school reopened in March 2015 with 152 K–6 students—and dreams of a high school someday.
Kelly Boyer Sagert, Presbyterian ruling elder and freelance writer, Amherst, Ohio
Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Let us pray
Lord, thank you for opportunities to envision a transformed world. Increase our faith and help us to work in partnership with others to make a difference, until Christ comes again to make all things new.