The slave trade, which African and African-American scholars sometimes call the “Maafa” (meaning “holocaust”), affected between 9 and 12 million people. The fourteen-year civil war in Liberia killed between 250,000 and 300,000 people, about 1 in 10 Liberians.  Hoping Liberia is dedicated in their memory.  The labor on this book is on behalf of Ricks Institute in Virginia, Liberia and of approximately 1,000 displaced people from the war who still live on the Ricks campus.  The royalties from this book and all the books written by Dr. Helms go to the Bricks for Ricks Foundation.


What Others Say

Ricks Institute and Olu Menjay–a struggling school and a committed Christian–are working together making a huge difference to the restoration of previously war-torn Liberia. Ricks and Olu have captured the hearts and pocketbooks of a number of Christians and churches in our country. But no person has been more passionate for support and success of Ricks than Michael Helms. An inspiriting book about hope, Hoping Liberia is also a magic story of Christian stewardship.

Dr. Walter B. Shurden, Minister at Large, Mercer University


Hoping Liberia is an inspiring work in every way. It tells a story, not just about what God is doing among Christians in Liberia, but also about the way God has tugged on Michael Helms’ heart and changed him and many others through their friendship with and service alongside Christian brothers and sisters in Liberia. This book indeed brought me much hope; maybe we Baptists can once again be known for our love and service and not for our fighting and politics. I strongly recommend Hoping Liberia.

Dr. David P. Gushee, Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics, McAfee School of Theology at Mercer University

In past generations God has raised up Baptists in the South with prophetic voices on the matter of racial reconciliation, such as T.B. Matson, Henlee Barnett, Foy Valentine, and John H. Claypool.  Today it is John Michael Helms.  While this book reads like a novel, it is a well-researched history of Liberia, reaching back to the slave trade with its attendant evils, which Helms mades fresh and revealing.  We see how “the sins of the fathers have planted sour grapes so that the children’s teeth have bee set on edge.”  In addition to its prophetic voice, “Hoping Liberia is insightful, purposeful and missional and will move the reader into “missio Dei.”

Dr. Emmanuel McCall, Founding Pastor of the Fellowship Group, East Point, Georgia

Every good story needs a good storyteller.  This story of Olu Menjay and Ricks Institute is a very good story.  Michael Helms is a very good storyteller. Now the story will be shared far and wide. Thanks be to God for the story and its teller.

Dr. Richard F. Wilson Columbus Roberts Professor of Theology and Chair, Roberts Department of Christianity, Mercer University

In Hoping Liberia, Michael Helms weaves together in Hoping Liberia, John Michael Helms weaves together multiple stories–the story of his friendship with Olu Menjay, the director of Ricks Institute in Virginia, Liberia; the story of their partnership in ministry; and the story of the nation of Liberia. Through historical narrative, theological ponderings, personal confession, and thoughtful questions, Helms immerses readers into a period of political turmoil and violence, a devastating civil war, and the immeasurable suffering experienced by the Liberian people.  In the midst of aftermath of these harsh realities, Liberian Christians held on to hope.  Hoping Liberia is ultimately an inspirational and uplifting story of faith being lived out and the body of Christ coming together and joining hands to do God’s work.

Dr. Pamela R. Durso  Executive Director, Baptist Women in Ministry, Atlanta, Georgia