Church of Christ at Snellville
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Love God - Love Each Other - Love the Lost
The Church of Christ at Snellville sponsors evangelistic mission work in many towns in Liberia, West Africa.
For many years Snellville has had the Great Commission as one of its mission statements. Because of that mission statement, our church has always been very generous with resources in helping to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ to other nations of the world as well as to communities in our area.
In the past Snellville supported an African Mission work in Kenya, but discontinued it and is now engaged in a more effective work in Liberia Africa. With the support of the Liberia Mission Work, we continue to fulfill the Great Commission at Snellville.
Where is Liberia?
Liberia, officially the Republic of Liberia, is a country on the west coast of Africa, bordered by Sierra Leone, Guinea, Côte d'Ivoire, and the Atlantic Ocean and south of Mali.
What kind of a country is Liberia?
As of the 2008 Census, the nation is home to 3,476,608 people and covers 111,369 square kilometers (43,000 sq mi). Liberia's capital is Monrovia. Liberia has a hot equatorial climate with most rainfall arriving in summer with harsh harmattan winds in the dry season. Liberia's populated Pepper Coast is composed of mostly mangrove forests while the sparsely populated inland is forested, later opening to a plateau of drier grasslands.
The history of Liberia is unique among African nations because of its relationship with the United States. It is one of only two countries in Africa, along with Ethiopia, without roots in the European Scramble for Africa. It was founded and colonized by freed American slaves with the help of a private organization called the American Colonization Society in 1821-1822, on the premise that former American slaves would have greater freedom and equality there.
Slaves freed from slave ships were also sent there instead of being repatriated to their countries of origin. These colonists formed an elite group in Liberian society, and, in 1847, they founded the Republic of Liberia, establishing a government modeled on that of the United States, naming Monrovia, their capital city, after James Monroe, the fifth president of the United States and a prominent supporter of the colonization. The name of the country is a derivation of liberty, Liberia.
As a result the national language is English, which is a tremendous advantage to our work with the local nationals in that country. Currently the Liberian population is made up of about 40% Christians of all types and denominations, 40% native type religions and 20% Muslim. The churches of Christ have a strong representation in the city of Monrovia with approximately 24 churches. Denominational churches preaching the prosperity gospel have made in roads and progress in many parts of the country.
Why is the Snellville church involved in Liberia?
There were three important advantages or reasons for our work in Liberia. The first, as mentioned before, English is the national language, which makes an important difference in any mission work that would be undertaken by any church in the United States. Secondly, Liberia’s official currency is the U.S. dollar, but the country has experienced severe deflation and economic distress. This is a sad situation, but on the other hand our U.S. dollars go a very long way in helping our Liberian brethren. And thirdly, the churches of Christ have gained a foot hold in that country and urgently need our help.
The Snellville church has been totally sponsoring the Liberian Mission work effort since August of 2006. At that time we began supporting Harrison Pyne the minister of the Point Four church of Christ in Monrovia, Liberia the capital city. Below he is shown with his wife Izetta. They have four children.
Harrison Pyne and his wife Izetta after services
How did Snellville become involved in this work?
It is an amazing story how we came to be involved with the work so far away and in such a struggling and remote area of the world. Surely God has led us to it. The Liberians definitely think we are God’s answer to their many prayers for help.
Leaders of the Snellville church came to know Harrison through a group of Liberians he had been studying with who had moved to America. These Liberians were invited to our church by members of Snellville who also were from Liberia. Our two members from Liberia where Tamba Booker, who had been baptized into the church when he lived in Africa, and Tamba’s room mate, Benjamin Ankrah a former Catholic who was baptized here by a Snellville member. Benjamin traveled back to Liberia in the winter of 2007 to see his family and met Harrison, the church leaders and all the members of the Point Four church in Monrovia and served as our ambassador to them. He returned with good reports.
There was a family of three, the Zinnah family, former Liberians living in the Snellville area. They began attending our church through Benjamin Ankrah and were later baptized by Snellville church members. The father of the Zinnah family, Harris, also traveled back to Liberia. He made the trip in November of 2009 to visit family and to meet with Harrison Pyne and the church leaders at the Point Four church in Monrovia and reported back to us.
Where is the city of Monrovia?
Monrovia is located on the coast in the northern part of Liberia.
Harrison Pyne desires to move south
In May of 2008 Harrison requested that he be allowed to move his family to the southeastern part of Liberia near the town of Zwedru near the border of the Ivory Coast, which is in green in the map above. Notice the name of the town just south of Zwedru is Pyne, Harrison’s family name. We approved this move and in the following section we will explain the reasons why Harrison relocated to this area of Liberia. Gabriel Tarplah became the pulpit minister at Four Points when Harrison moved to the Zwedru area.
Why did Harrison move his family to the Zwedru area?
During the first year of our support to Harrison he shared his vision and his goal with us to reestablish a number of churches of Christ in the southeastern part of Liberia that had stopped meeting together and strengthen other churches that were struggling to meet. Two recent Civil Wars in Liberia had created this very difficult situation with these churches. The first Civil War lasted from 1989 to 1996. The second lasted from 1999 to 2003. Over 220,000 Liberians died during these civil wars and vast amounts of property were destroyed and the national economy was wrecked.
Harrison had a very strong personal interest in these churches in this area. As a boy he had traveled with his father as his father personally established many churches of Christ in this region of the country. Harrison’s father David was a former African Methodist Episcopal Minister. David Pyne was a gifted musician able to play five different instruments in the worship service of his AME church. David had a friend named Samuel Brown who was a preacher in the church of Christ. In 1986 Samuel helped David to better understand the New Testament church and the message of the gospel, which changed the course of his life.
David Pyne gave up his ministry along with using his instruments he played in the worship services; the organ, piano, sax, guitar and drums. He was scripturally baptized and began preaching the gospel and baptizing believers and establishing a number of churches in that area. David died in 1993 as a result of the Civil War.
Because Harrison had traveled with his father in setting up these churches, he knew many of the people and the places that had been severely affected by the wars. This made Harrison the ideal person to do this very important work. Therefore, we agreed to continue to support Harrison as he moved his family to this area of evangelism and church restoration. We also agreed to fund radio programs that reached the designated areas prepared and delivered by Harrison, which have helped accomplish the results reported. Harrison has done an outstanding job since he relocated there in June of 2008. The next section covers some of the results of his diligent and faithful work for our Lord’s church in that area.
Some of the results of Harrison’s work in southeast Liberia
Harrison began contacting and working directly with as many saints in that area as he could remember and find. There were a few churches that were still meeting together in the general area, but many saints had stopped meeting together. Harrison began encouraging the best Bible students and leaders in those areas to take the lead in preaching, teaching and supplying leadership.
With the help of the brethren in those areas Harrison was able to establish three new churches in the last half of 2008 to bring the total number of churches to 13 Harrison and Snellville were working with in that area. Harrison reported over 120 people being baptized in 2008 with over 100 members restored. By the end of 2009 Harrison was able to report that 5 more churches had been established in 2009 and 103 baptisms. Below is an excerpt from his 2009 year end report.
[“THE YEAR 2009 IN REVIEW
In 2009 by the grace of God we were able to plant five additional new congregations thus making the congregations we are working with from 13 to 18 as we speak. This growth was due to the level of support we received from you and that has been our encouragement in the work. So we thank God for that. These congregations were established in all of the five counties making up the southeast. Brethren, it was not easy in carrying out this task but God has been with us and we did what we could in the midst of growing denominations with their prosperity gospel.
5 Additional churches started
Sineo County: Government Camp coc, with total members of 65 persons. Grand Gedeh County: Kunneboe coc, with 85 members. Maryland County: Forpoh coc, with 75 members. River Gee county: Fish Town coc, with 85 members. Maryland county: Karloken coc, with 60 members.”]
At this point it is important to remember that the Snellville church of Christ is the sponsoring church and the only U.S. church supporting this work at this time. Without our backing none of this would have occurred.
Harrison Pyne converts an entire denominational church
Harrison accomplished another amazing task early in this year 2010. He studied with the Universal Christian Fellowship church in that area of Liberia, which had 150 members. Due to this study the church began observing communion every week instead of once a month. Later they stopped using instruments in their worship services. And on one day Harrison baptized 98 members of that church for the remission of their sins and the following week baptized 9 more. Thereafter, the church changed their name to the Universal Christian Fellowship church of Christ. This sounds very much like a story from the early days of the Restoration Movement in America. Harrison has done an outstanding job.
A sampling of pictures from some of the Liberian Churches of Christ involved as a result of this ministry
The first church we began working with was the Four Points church of Christ in Monrovia. Below are pictures taken when Benjamin Ankrah made his visit.
Benjamin with Point Four church leaders
Benjamin is in the front row, second from the right. Gabriel Tarplah is the first one on the right in the blue shirt. Harrison is in the middle in traditional African dress. Notice the World Bible School sign. They are heavily into WBS and it helped establish this church years ago.
Point Four church of Christ
The children of Point Four
The next group of pictures are some of the churches in the southeastern part of Liberia the area where Harrison is now located.
Zwedru church of Christ
These churches have grown larger since these pictures have been taken. We will be posting more updated pictures in the near future. We ask that you continue to pray for the work going on in Liberia and if you are interested in assisting in some way; just let one of your elders know.
Additional Photo Links to the work in Liberia