President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has personally thanked God for the current peace Liberia enjoys, and acknowledged the contribution of Liberians, friends of Liberia and the international community to what she described as a great achievement. “Let’s strengthen our bonds and prosper together. Always keep the peace,” the Liberian leader stressed during an Intercessory and Thanksgiving Service organized in observance of a decade of peace in Liberia.
According to an Executive Mansion release, President Sirleaf told worshippers at the Service that the gathering at St. Peter Lutheran Church, and in churches across the country, was aimed at praising God because it was only by his mercy and blessings that the country is celebrating a decade of peace. She urged Liberians to reach out to each other and reconcile, irrespective of position, tribe, religion, etc., for the promotion of peace and genuine reconciliation.
“We must all seek courage and strength to maintain the peace not only for today, but years to come,” the Liberian leader told the jubilant worshippers. She concluded by saying that our praises to God in celebrating ten years of peace, and the many additional initiatives that will be geared towards consolidating and maintain the peace, are directed to the memories of all those to paid the ultimate price through suffering, death and despair.
Delivering a powerful sermon, the Presiding Bishop of the Lutheran Church in Liberia, the Rt. Rev. Dr. D. Jensen Seyenkulo, likened Liberia to a banged-up vehicle he received years ago when he owned a car for the first time. He told the cheering congregation that although his vehicle was very old, he loved it. Little by little, he was able to transform it into what looked like a brand new car, even though he had loved it while it looked old.
Explaining the analogy of the old car story, the Lutheran Bishop said Liberians made Liberia look like his old car, and stressed that the country must still be loved and cared for despite being destroyed.He reminded the worshippers that even though God cares for us as part of his creation, He can get away from us when pushed afar. “Liberians pushed God afar through their wicked ways and deeds, and so He kept afar as we destroyed ourselves, our brothers, sisters and the country,” Bishop Seyenkulo told the congregation.
“We were very cruel to ourselves; killed people, raped women and girls, slaughtered people who wept and pleaded for mercy at our hands, butchered parts of people for consumption, etc. By doing all these, we pushed God afar and destroyed ourselves.”
Reflectingon how over 600 men, women, children and the elderly, who sought refuge at the Lutheran Church on July 29, 1990, were murdered, he said: “People who felt unsafe came to the House of God for refuge. But hiding on God’s altar and other parts of the church could not protect them from the works of the wicked ones as they killed them.” Men with evil intent roamed the country, as they did in the Lutheran Church, and destroyed innocent people. Liberians, he stressed, must never allow the country to return to such ugly past.
Bishop Seyenkulo described St. Peter Lutheran Church as a national symbol for the atrocities committed in Liberia, saying that a temple of God was desecrated by the hands of evil men who broke into the church and destroyed innocent lives.”St. Peter, as a place of refuge, must be established,” he urged.
The Bishop acknowledged the role of the women of Liberia, the very victims of the war who prayed sincerely for the peace the nation currently enjoys.Healso recognized the contributions and roles of the international community, particularly the United Nations, ECOWAS, the African Union, the European Union and all others who made the Accra Comprehensive Peace Agreement possible.
He urged Liberians to hold together and preserve the peace because many persons in the international community still donot trust the peace Liberians celebrate today. “We must work diligently to keep this peace and remain committed to keeping it. God has once more come closer to Liberia, but we must never again push him away and afar,” the Lutheran Bishop said, concluding his sermon.
The Minister of State without Portfolio, Conmany B. Wesseh, thanked the church for hosting the Intercessory and Thanksgiving Service,and also Liberians for embracing the celebrations. He referenced President Sirleaf as the instrument chosen by God to repair the old car (Liberia) mentioned by Bishop Seyenkulo.
Among those attending the Service were Government officials, among them: Vice President Joseph N. Boakai, Sr.; House Speaker, J. Alex Tyler; members of the Diplomatic Corps; religious leaders; women’s organizations;and representatives of youth and student organizations.
Following the Intercessory and Thanksgiving Service,President Sirleaf attended sporting activities at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex in Paynesville. The event brought together teams from the National Legislature, the security sector, the Cabinet and the Press Union of Liberia.