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Friday, December 30, 2011

Bishop Amos Bolay Pictured in Gray Shirt on Right
When we (Drs. Collver, Lehenbauer, and Rodewald) arrived in Monrovia, Liberia, Bishop Amos Bolay of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Liberia greeted us at Roberts International Airport. The purpose of our visit is to hold fellowship discussions with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Liberia. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Liberia (ELCL) was formed in May 2009 from the merger of four different Lutheran groups, each founded through the Diaspora of the Liberian Civil War through different initiatives of the LCMS, including LCMS World Mission. The newly-formed  ELCL has 350 congregations, 30 schools and 11,000 members. A choir from one of the local congregations came to the airport and serenaded us with a rendition of Psalm 23.

It was quite a surprise and honor to be greeted by the choir at the airport. More than that to hear Psalm 23 was tremendous. A portion of the piece is provided in the video above.
Some of the Choir Members
The choir members have a very busy schedule, greeting us at the airport, singing at a funeral on Saturday, and singing at church for the New Year's Eve service.

Later that evening, after traveling for two hours in traffic from the airport, the choir sang again.

Note the tail of the Delta Airbus 330 plane is taller than the fence perimeter of the airfield.

Liberia is in West Africa, bordered by Sierra Leone, Guinea and Côte d'Ivoire and it is part of Africa's "pepper coast." Liberia along with Ethiopia are the only two African nations not to be colonized by Europeans. Liberia was founded in 1847 by freed American slaves. The capital city is named Monrovia after James Monroe, the fifth President of the United States who supported the formation of Liberia.

A view from along the highway.

The Flight Into Egypt
Bishop Bolay mentioned that Islam both in Africa and in Liberia is on the rise. Many Africans have been taught that Islam is a more "African" religion than Christianity. Bishop Bolay teaches seminary students that Christianity cannot become more African than Jesus visiting Africa during the Flight Into Egypt (see Matthew 2:13-23). Not to mention the rich tradition Christianity had in Northern Africa after Pentecost and in the early Church. While the flight of Jesus to Egypt was to fulfill the Scriptures, "Out of Egypt I have called my son," our Lord's visitation to African has become important for Christians as a defense against Islam.

Our first day in Liberia concluded with dinner at Bishop Bolay's home. It was a great honor to visit him in his home.

After dinner we retired to the Lutheran Guest House for some rest after nearly 24 hours of travel.

– Rev. Dr. Albert B. Collver, Director of Church Relations.

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