Liberia (MNN) — Years of civil war and other conflict has come to a virtual end in Liberia. However, the country is still recovering. With more than 80-percent unemployment, virtually no indigenous health care, and the country's infrastructure in ruins, Mercy Ships is making an impact both for the country and for the Kingdom.
Mercy Ships invited Mission Network News and three other broadcasters to Monrovia, Liberia to see their work aboard the newest ship in the fleet, Africa Mercy. The Africa Mercy made its way into Monrovia's port in May, replacing the aging Anastasias.
Mercy Ships' Founder and President Don Stephens describes the Africa Mercy. "It's like a state-of-the-art new hospital in any major city in the U.S. and here we are in the poorest nation on the face of the earth with all of this wonderful equipment that belongs to the Lord. It's a wonderful thing."
In just five months the ship has seen incredible results. To date the doctors have performed 1,271 surgical procedures on board and provided dental care to 6,644 people in their on-shore dental clinic.
The Mercy Ships focus on four things: Eye surgery, plastic surgery (mostly cleft lip and palate, tumor, and burn injury repair), childbirth surgical repair surgeries (Vesico-vaginal fistula (VVF)), and emergency dental care.
Stephens says that providing physical help is a great need, but it never outshines the Gospel. "I think the Gospel must be, can be, and I think it must be done 'doing' the Good News at the same time, 'speaking' the Good News. I think we should be careful not to separate the two. We all know the classic definition of a hypocrite is someone who doesn't do what they say. Jesus 'did' the Good News as well as proclaim the Good News, and that's the heart of what we are at Mercy Ships."
Every single patient is exposed to the Gospel while participating in the Mercy Ships program. Joseph Dumbuya works with the dental program. He says while the Gospel is presented, it's presented in a way that would cause people to ask questions. "For those who want to know about the Jesus that we serve, we give them the free opportunity to talk to our 'discipler.'
Dumbuya says many people have come back later, after the procedures, to know more.
Gina Adjei is a "discipler" with Mercy Ships. Adjei says after people receive free life saving medical care, they begin to understand God's free gift of salvation. And once they come to Christ, the work isn't over. Adjei says, "We give them a Bible. We encourage them in the Lord from here. And, then when they are discharged from here, we give them over to the local church so that the local church can take over when we are not here."
You can have a tremendous impact without having to leave home. $250 is all it takes to pay for a surgery, which guarantees a person in Liberia will hear the Gospel. Africa Mercy will be in Liberia for another two months. Pray that many will provide support so even more people can hear the Gospel.