During my first trip to Liberia in 1995, Olu Menjay and I visited Ricks Institute. It was closed because of the war, but the United Nations had a refugee camp on the campus of the Baptist school with 20,000 people. The people in the camp had been displaced from their homes and the camp kept them from starving.
We stopped by the home of the principal and his wife. They were eating a modest meal of rice, cassava, and toppings.
Typical of Liberians, they invited us to share what they had. Olu and I declined, but the young man that accompanied us sat down at the principal’s plate and using his fork, consumed the remaining portion of his meal in minutes. The young man was very hungry.
James Flomo, a former student at Ricks, told me that hunger is like a house without a roof. If you think about that analogy, a house doesn’t function very well without a roof, and a person who is hungry doesn’t function very well, either. It’s difficult to imagine that life can be reduced to looking for food to sustain one’s family, but that is the case for many Liberians.
The spread of Ebola has had a domino effect on the economy. The few people who were working are now are out of work and hunger is becoming a real problem.
The same young man that I first visited Liberia with in 1995 is now principal of Ricks Institute and the President of the Liberia Baptist Missionary and Education Convention. Dr. Olu Menjay has the concern of hundreds of Baptist churches across Liberia on his heart. He is working in partnership with our global Baptist family and friends as well as other national efforts to distribute food to selected communities, conduct educational and sensitization campaigns, and provide sanitary ingredients across the country.
In response to the need in Liberia, in 2008 I established the Bricks for Ricks Foundation to help alleviate the suffering that I saw while visiting there. Profits from the sales of my books and personal donations make up the foundation’s account and make it possible to help Liberians and others in Third World countries with issues of housing, water, and food.
So far the foundation has placed an earth block-making machine in Peru and in Liberia. We partnered with Rotary International with the Peru project.
A $1000 check from the foundation has recently been sent to the “Care For One Hundred” campaign in Liberia in honor of Rev. John Mark Carpenter, former President of the Liberian Baptist Seminary, and his wife Betty.
We are trying to live out James 2:16 with gifts such as this: “If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?”
Please remember our Liberian friends as you give a World Hunger offering this year. The “Care For One Hundred” website is http://www.careforonehundred.org. Donations to Bricks for Ricks can be made at http://johnmichaelhelms.com/bricks-for-ricks/ or to Bricks for Ricks Foundation, 221 Melvin Drive, Jefferson, GA 30549.