Early in 2007, desperate Liberian Lutheran refugees in Guinean camps emailed many Lutheran churches in the West with pleas for help including LCA. Aid had suddenly stopped. There was near famine among some of them. A baffled secretary in a LCA District Office on her own contacted Pastor August Fricke wondering whether he/AFA could help. Ever since we have seen the unfolding of a unique story. Africa was the LAST place on earth ASIA Focus wanted to go to. The reason why the refugees’ emails went unanswered otherwise was that Lutheran World Service had just closed their operations in the refugee camps of Guinea.
A Horror History: The Liberian Civil War 1989 – 2003 had killed around 70,000 people and made more than 200,000 homeless, with huge numbers fleeing to neighbouring Guinea, about 150,000. Lutheran World Service serviced Laine Refugee Camp and did an excellent job. Then, suddenly, after a lot had been accomplished, the whole international aid community (church and secular) stopped their work in Guinea because peace had returned to Liberia and supposedly everyone could go back home, as most people indeed had done. So they all left – the Catholics, the Lutherans and the others. The problem was that there was this biblical remnant of some 7,000 who refused to go home – because they had no home in Liberia to go to. They knew no one anymore after 15 years on the run, had no family left or had converted from Islam to Christianity, unable to go home now.
AFA Action: AFA had to become AFA-IA (Asia Focus Australia In Africa). Timidly we responded. We saw the appalling conditions in the now-forgotten, disintegrating refugee camps of Kouankan and Laine in Guinea. We started initiatives of ‘bringing them home’ and bought 120 acres of jungle in Northern Liberia. The result: Lutheran Global Village (LGV). We helped many others previously but now we have to focus on LGV with its 350 people helping many others.
The Lutheran Global Village is an absolute inspiration. It has amalgamated congregations from two different church groups and established unity. It provides training and leadership. It gives moral and material support to discouraged and down-trodden congregations in the region and has rekindled the spirit of mission. Right now it is providing two remote locations with clean drinking water digging bores 15m deep. ‘Water for Christmas’! We are hoping for some donations for this.