Larry Stanton and his wife Rebecca are stateside, but it is not by choice. Ebola is keeping them from returning to Liberia where they have made a four-year commitment as missionaries.
Rebecca is working with teachers at Ricks Institute in Virginia, Liberia, to help all teachers ensure that their teaching methods and curriculum meet the Liberian national standard.
Larry is working as the maintenance supervisor of the school. He oversees a group of men with various skills who have a difficult job of keeping an aging school intact with very limited resources.
Water related issues are among the common challenges. Although Trinity Baptist Church of Moultrie, GA brought in-door toilets to the school in 2007 for the first time since the war, children are going to the bathroom outside again. Part of the problem is the inferior parts that are sold in the country. For example, Larry once purchased five fans at the local hardware store to install and none of them worked.
In a country where it rains over 200 inches a year, most of it in a six-month period, the maintenance crew is often plugging holes in leaky, aging roofs. Erosion is also a big problem as water goes where it’s not wanted.
During one torrential downpour, Larry decided to get out in the rain and observe the flow of the water. He could see that it was creating terrible conditions on the road leading into the school. He realized that he could solve the problem with a large drainage pipe. However, he had no money for a large pipe and if he did, where would he buy it?
Since arriving at the school, Larry had made it a practice to begin each day’s work with a devotion and time of prayer with his workers. During the time of prayer, he encouraged the men to share their concerns and needs of life so they could be prayed for, teaching them the words of Philippians 4:6, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
Larry mentioned to the men that he had been thinking about how the problem with the washed away area in the road could be solved. He told them a large pipe was needed but there was no money to purchase one. He made it known that this was one of the requests he was making to God, that God would provide for them a drainage pipe.
Weeks passed and the rains continued to fall. The prayer offered to God had faded from the minds of the men. One day, Mr. Seh, the Head of Security, came to Larry and said he had something he wanted him to see. He took Larry to a place along the road that had exposed something odd looking. “What is it?” asked Mr. Seh.
Larry knew what it was. He took his crew and asked them to find where this object started and ended. Without much enthusiasm for the project, the crew began to dig. What they uncovered were two sections of pipe, 36 feet long. Once uncovered, the inside of the pipes had to be cleared of all the dirt, which had completely filled it up over the years. That brought more complaining.
However, as the pipe began to look like a useable tool again for transporting water, the men caught the vision. Enthusiasm and excitement for the project picked up. They celebrated and were rewarded for their hard work as the pipe was finally clean. It was as if they were paleontologists and had dug up a pipeosaurus from the early years of the school’s history.
Larry then took the crew to the area where the road was becoming impassable and the water was eating a gully into the road. They dug a trench for the pipes, and placed them where they could carry the water from one side of the road to the other and into the swamp. The pipes were covered up so cars and people on foot could pass safely over.
People from the surrounding villages who had been watching these men work for days were then able to see the reason for their hard work and complimented the men on what they had done.
Long before Larry noticed he needed a pipe, long before he shared his need for a pipe with his men or told them he was making that need as a request to God, God knew what Larry needed, and God knew where the pipe was buried. God showed it to Mr. Seh, who had no idea that Larry had prayed such a prayer.
Long before we ever make our requests known to God, God knows what we need and God knows how He will meet and supply our needs. It seems God wants us to have the faith to ask for what we need so that we will know that it is â€œGod (who) will supply all of (our) needs according to the great riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” Philippians 4:19 (NIV).