Baptist Church pair to brave West Africa

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IN this materialistic day and age, it’s a rare thing indeed to witness true selflessness. Whether motivated by religion, or more secular impulses, acts of kindness are rare things on a day-to-day basis. However, one dedicated north-east couple have volunteered to help rebuild a war-torn West African country, in what can only be described as an act of extreme devotion to their religion.

Stewart and Elizabeth Gerrie of Strichen, who worship at Ellon Baptist Church, plan to make the journey to Liberia later this year, following appeals from the Christian community there for technically experienced missionaries.

The couple will brave infectious diseases, tropical temperatures and guerilla fighters to take up positions at a campus 15-20 miles outside of the capital city, Monrovia. The entire region - including the Gerrie’s campus - was repeatedly assaulted during the most recent conflict, which left hundreds of thousands dead and millions displaced in a country already plagued by AIDS, poverty and crime. The Gerries will work in support of the Liberian Evangelical Union, an umbrella group for local Christian churches. Stuart’s main focus will be in construction, while Elizabeth plans to work in administration at the mission.

The expedition is not the first for the couple, who spent time in Swaziland 27 years ago answering their missionary calling.

Elizabeth told the Times. “We returned from Swaziland because of ill health, and in order to raise our two children. Both my husband and I have prayed for guidance, and we both felt the call from God to go overseas again.”

“Our aim is to support the whole person - spiritually, and materially. It’s an idea we have been pursuing for three years now, and we have attended Bible college in London to learn about the challenges we are likely to face.”

The couple, who have to raise their own funds to undertake the journey, say that the support of the Ellon Baptists was crucial in helping them achieve their spiritual goal.

“The church in Ellon has been very supportive, and so have our children. We’ve been humbled by the opportunity.

Ruled by a tiny minority of Afro-Americans, Liberia was a nominal democracy until the overthrow of President Tolbert in 1980. Since that time, Liberia’s history has been one of war and extreme violence, exabberated by sharp ethnic divides within the country itself. The most recent round of civil war ended in 2003. Aware of the challenges and huge dangers ahead, the Gerries have placed faith in their God for guidance.

“For us, we’re going as long as God wants us there,” said Elizabeth.