MONROVIA, Liberia —Even in the midst of bloody civil war, Liberian Christians and seminary students found to remain highly religious showing more passion to maintain faith.
Lincoln Brownell, president of Liberian Baptist Theological Seminary, said students are extremely longing to reopen the school and most people are thankful to Jesus for keeping them alive during the bloody war.
After ousting former Liberia’s president Charles Taylor, Liberia is slowly recovering from the war but there are still thousands of soldiers patrolling streets with arms. The war destroyed most of buildings, even churches and seminary schools.
Although the war took away many lives, Brownell thinks a new opportunity came for the seminary students and Liberian Baptist churches because of the war.
"Sunday church attendance is up," Brownell said. "And right now, I would estimate about 45 percent of our population (3.3 million) claim Jesus Christ."
However increase in church attendance doesn’t mean everyone is rejoicing in the Lord. Many people are still suffering in the aftermath of war. Brownell pointed out that things are far from normal in Liberia.
More than 500,000 people are still displaced by the war. More than 50,000 refugees are staying at one of the camps for the internally displaced people at a Baptist school, Ricks Institute, providing ministry opportunities for seminary students and local pastors.
Bill Bullington, the International Mission Board's regional leader for West Africa, who visited Liberia to evaluate Baptist work, was impressed with Brownell’s students and their commitment to missions.
"Students have done mission projects in the interior and [at] refugee camps during their vacation time," Bullington said. "Some of these students are looking at missions assignments within Liberia and beyond. I was impressed by their dedication."
Currently, there are no IMB missionaries working in Liberia but Brownell was hopeful that peace would be restored through the seminary students who are carrying out mission work in Liberia. Calling his students the fruit of Southern Baptist workers, he praised their good deeds.
"The military war is over, but we still have silent weapons. Survival and economic hardship continue to impoverish Liberians," Brownell said. "But, one prime example of peace shines as students and graduates of the Liberia Baptist Theological Seminary continue to evangelize, pastor and carry out mission work through the local churches around Liberia."