Did you know that the United States, shortly after becoming a republic, started another country? In Africa? Which still exists more than 200 years later?
It’s true. After the war for independence from Britain, America was home to many African-Americans. Whether free or enslaved, they faced real hardships. Assimilation into the mainstream was out of the question.
Some felt the best solution would be to give them their freedom… help them to return to Africa, and start new lives in an American colony on their old continent. This is how the nation of “Liberia” was born!
On July 26, 1847, the “Americo-Liberians” stated that they had had enough of American patronage. They wrote a declaration of independence from the United States of America charging the U.S. with injustices.
But the sins of the fathers many times show up in the sons. The Americo-Liberians would not allow the integration of regular Africans into their elite society. They perpetuated a two-tiered society. Local Africans could not have full participation in the new nation’s social, civic, and political life.
Ironically, the Americo-Liberians were replicating many of the exclusions and social differentiations that had limited their lives in the United States! They had been mistreated—now they mistreated others.
Oh yes, Liberia, this “Land of Freedom,” was founded as a Christian nation.
The eleven men who signed the Liberian declaration of independence were
born-again believers. The document was signed at a Baptist Church.
To this day, Liberians have an annual day of fasting and prayer. Their national anthem appeals to God as their power, and the giver of their rights. Their pledge of allegiance is identical to ours except for the name of the country. All 22 of their presidents have claimed to be Christians—most of them have been church leaders!
On paper, Liberia should thrive. They shouldn’t need evangelization; they should be a missionary-sending country; they should be capable of planting churches that can self-govern, self-support, and self-propagate.
But the reality below Liberia’s surface is grim:
The majority of the country is yet to be reached with the Gospel.
Islam is growing much faster than Christianity.
There are no indigenous missionary efforts.
There is no effort at translation of God’s Word into native languages, though 95% of the population is native.
There is no relevance in the presentation of Christianity to the native
Sadly, Christianity had a bad relationship with the peoples of the region from the start. The new settlers from America kept their distance from the natives. There were no social, political, economic, or religious ties. There was no proclamation of Christianity to the natives.
The natives came to realize what the name “Americo-Liberian” really meant: Africans with the prejudices, preferences, biases, and aspirations of a white society . . . people who would want nothing to do with native Africans.
So Christianity became a distinguishing mark of an elite society—instead of God’s answer for the most profound ailments of mankind.
The only attempt of the Americo-Liberians at “relating” to the native Africans was to exploit them—and even enslave them!
It was a sad beginning . . .
There were wars between the “pagan tribes” and the “Christian settlers.”
The tribesmen could not think of being Christian, for Christianity was an elite culture,and to their view, unachievable.
The settlers, on the other hand, thought it impossible for an illiterate, pagan tribesman to become a Christian.
The settlers’ harsh treatment of the natives—indeed the settlers’ entire approach to life in Africa—did not commend itself to the natives . . . to put it mildly.
Their Christianity had no foundational doctrine of repentance from sin and salvation through God’s provision in Jesus Christ. It was socio-political. It was exclusionary. Soon they mixed in “Freemasonry” and other secret societies.
Before long, paganism crept in to distort Liberia’s brand of Christianity. Today, Liberia is counted among the poorest countries of the world—not just economically, but spiritually. This is a nation essentially “inoculated” against true Christianity— because of all it has suffered at the hands of a “Christian elite.”