By Bishop Kortu K. Brown
Liberia is on the move towards Presidential and Legislative election in October 2023. Reactions to the process and event are mixed. There are hopeful signs and not so hopeful signs. The National Elections Commission (NEC) has a lot of work to do to build confidence in the process leading up to that historical exercise of choosing our national leaders, which happens every six years. Liberians’ reaction to the state of affairs is also mixed. Some say we have made progress while others disagree. If we are not making the kind of progress that we expect then the question is, who is troubling Liberia? Or What is troubling Liberia? What is responsible for our slow progress? About 2929 years ago, an argument arose in Israel amongst the political and spiritual leaders about who was troubling Israel. There has been no rain for more than three years as a consequence of the disregards for God’s rule and murdered of God’s prophets by the King’s wife, Jezebel. Israel was an agriculture economy. It needed rain to grow and sustain her plants but there was no rain because God was angry with the leaders.
When Prophet Elijah finally showed up before Obadiah, the King’s right-hand man, he requested for a meeting with King Ahab. Obadiah was hesitant. He feared the Spirit of the Lord might take away Elijah at any time. He feared the King might conclude that he, Obadiah had lied to him. The king had been looking for the prophet in every place but couldn’t find him because the Spirit of the Lord hid him. Obadiah was on a field trip searching for water for their animals in one part of the country because of the lack of rain for about three-and-half years. He inquired from Elijah about his request for a meeting with the King: “How have I sinned, that you are delivering your servant into the hand of Ahab, to kill me?” Obadiah didn’t trust that Elijah will be available when the King showed up. Elijah assured him that “as the LORD of Hosts lives, before whom I stand, I will surely present myself to him today” [I Kings 18:15]
The meeting finally convened – where the prophet stood and waited – and King Ahab, first and foremost inquiry from Prophet Elijah was, “Is that you, O troubler of Israel?” [I Kings 18:17]. The King opined that the economic and spiritual woes that Israel faced were as a consequence of the actions of the prophet, Elijah. Evangelist Jimmy Swaggart wrote in his Expositor’s Bible that the whole problem of Israel laid in Elijah’s response to Ahab: “I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father’s house have, in that you have forsaken the commandments of the LORD and have followed the Baals” [vs 18]. Indeed, Israel’s problem like the problems of many nations today was because they forsook the commandments of their God and turned to serving the creatures, the things that God made instead of God, the Creator. The country is troubled by the decisions of the political leaders and not the reactions of the spiritual leaders no matter how unwelcoming it may be.
“To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven”. Ecclesiastes Chapter 3 further says in Verses 3, 4, 5, 8 that there’s “A time to kill, And a time to heal; A time to break down, And a time to build up; A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, And a time to gather stones; A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing; A time to love, And a time to hate; A time of war, And a time of peace.” Liberia has seen the worse e.g., murder, breakdown, weeping, mourning, casting away stone, refrain from embracing, hate, war, etc. in several years. Now it’s time for the country to “heal, build up, laugh, dance, gather stones, embrace, love, [and sustain] peace”. Who’s then troubling Liberia? What’s troubling the country from achieving the Divine transitional assertions made in Ecclesiastes Chapter 3?
Major Obstacles to a normal society
The next six months – and, no doubt, six years are critical for Liberia’s upliftment and peace. This is so because there are major challenges facing the country to include a real lack of genuine concern for the welfare and development of the country. Imagine for example during this biometric voters’ registration exercise, aspirants across the country are trucking people from one point to another just to get them register, to vote for them so they can remain in power and/or come to power. This was unheard of before the civil war as ugly as we claim Liberia was before then. This is real betrayal of the people’s trust and the development needs of those communities: Taking people who don’t belong or live in a particular community to go to register to vote. NO REAL PLANS! NO REAL TANGIBLES FOR PEOPLE TO SEE AND VOTE THEM WHILE IN OFFICE! SOMETIMES NO REAL LOVE AND CARE FOR THE COMMUNITIES THEY REPRESENT. Is there any aspirant that hasn’t trucked anyone that this country can honor?
There is a strong spirit of divisiveness prevailing in this country. Here are a few concerns:
- Tribalism: It should worry all Liberians that our politics is again taking on a tribal line than a national posture based on patriotism, nationalism, professionalism, national vision and plans for country’s recovery, promotion of peace and reconciliation, development, etc. Some of the presidential candidates are only banking on their tribal affiliations to see themselves through the election. This is troubling because if we are not careful, the politics could degenerate into tribal and ethnic exercises in political party dress. Any Liberian using a tribe to promote their political aspirations is primarily on a personal pursuit and not particularly in the interest of the country.
- In-cohesiveness: The fragility of every sector of Liberian life is worrying. Whether it is the church, mosques, politics, civil society, family or community, Liberia is becoming more and more incohesive. Our society is becoming increasingly disunited, inconsistent, disconnected, disorganized and fragmented. Nothing holds any more. Every Liberian fight for him or herself only. Our political parties are fragile. They are not built on genuine principles, reliability and commitment to a national cause. They mostly pursue a parochial agenda. That’s why there are new parties every day and so much noise and division. No coherent national message and direction. Most political parties are organized because people want jobs, government jobs.
- Untruthfulness: Scripture reminds us that “God requires truth in our inward parts” (Psalm 51:6). No matter what happens there are people who are sworn to untruthfulness in Liberia whether in the ruling or opposition community, religious or non-religious community, civil society or business community, amongst others. Some have made it a business. They move from one government to another misleading leaders and ordinary people. They never say the truth. They also hate truth tellers. They prefer the spreading of lies and false information than the promotion of truth and honesty. They are like a sick person who goes to the hospital, lies to the doctor about what’s happening to them and expect that they will be healed. Any country that promotes falsehood, lies and misinformation cannot expect healing and development.
- Injustice: The New King James Version of Amos 5:24 called for “[But] let justice run down like water, And righteousness like a mighty stream” in Israel. Justice and Righteousness are still two virtues seriously challenged in Liberia. There are the reports of mysterious deaths and ritualistic killings that I spoke about a little over two years ago. I was taken to task by the Liberia National Police for spreading misleading information and promoting division amongst Liberians as then President of Liberia Council of Churches (LCC). Even some people within the religious and other communities didn’t want to stand up to those troubling reports and unending investigations. Some elements of the Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Information also took us to task as being anti-government. Now, about two years later, there’s fear and talk of missing and mysterious deaths everywhere, from Maryland to Grand Cape Mount County. The LNP must show vigilance and urgency in addressing these critical concerns so that it doesn’t seem like the waters of justice are not rolling down. We also do hope and pray that the new Supreme Court bench can really make a difference where ordinary Liberians can be assured that “justice is not out there for the highest bidder”.
- Bigotry: There are people in our society who are obstinate or intolerantly devoted to their own opinions and prejudices. They only think of what they say and do and are intolerant of others’ opinions and prejudices. In fact, some Liberians even forget that God is in control of the country. They boast about who they are and how they are able to decide the future of the country because of the little preferences or opportunities God has given them. They are above everyone else and should be listened to by everyone else. They are bias, partial, partisan, sectarian, discriminatory, unfair, unjust and narrow-minded. Self-preferences preclude their judgment even on crucial national issues. They must know that they are dead wrong. We must realize that God rules in the kingdom or affairs of men and gives it, the kingdom or authority to whomever He will (Daniel 4:17; Psalm 47:8)
Sometimes I wonder about the spirit of divisiveness even crippling the functions of government where some Cabinet Ministers consider themselves as “major” servants while other Cabinet Ministers are “minor” servants of the State. However, what they failed to realize is that the framers of our Constitution and laws organized the State in a way that the Executive Branch of government for example, will pursue her work through sectoral interventions e.g., Foreign Affairs, Justice, Finance, Defense, State, Education, Health, Agriculture, Labor, Youth and Sports, Commerce and Trade, Gender and Children, Internal Affairs, Public Works, Post & Telecommunications, Lands & Energy, Information, Transport, etc. Which one of those interventions is a minor engagement for the Republic of Liberia. Just think about our post-civil-war challenge with addressing youths’ concerns. This means that if any sector is not prioritized, national development and/or the forward movement of the country, are undermined.
What’s troubling our country? Let’s search ourselves in every sphere of our national life. Let’s resolve, like Elijah that the coming contest – on Mount Carmel, will lay the foundation for settlement of the question of why we are still challenged in our Ecclesiastes Chapter 3 phase-2 fulfillment, “A time to heal, build up, laugh, dance, gather stones, embrace, love, [and sustain] peace”.
We must therefore identify and call out the troublers of Liberia!
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