Bicycles, motorbikes help spread gospel in Liberia

One month after receiving a motorbike, Pastor William Kulah of Gbanjuloma United Methodist Church said it is helping him with his pastoral ministry in the Lofa River District.

“I can now go to other communities besides my assigned local church and evangelize for The United Methodist Church,” he said.

Kulah said that prior to being given the motorbike through the church’s Bikes and Bibles ministry, he was spending his personal money to do the work of the church.

“It was too expensive for me as a pastor who is not paid by the local church, district or the annual conference,” he said.

With the motorbike, he said, it takes him five hours to get to his assigned church.

“I always leave on Saturday to be able to start church services on time and even visit members of the church to encourage them to come to church on Sunday,” he said.

Kulah said he allows himself time to rest before returning home to his family on Tuesday of each week. He pointed out that most of the church members are now coming to church regularly since they are confident that the pastor will be there each Sunday.

Though assigned to Gbanjuloma United Methodist Church, Kulah is now able to visit Gbanju and Yarpuah United Methodist churches, where there aren’t any pastors assigned due to a lack of resources.

The Bikes and Bibles ministry provides bicycles, motorbikes and native-language Bibles to pastors in the United Methodist connection, especially those in Africa. Started in 2014, the project reached Liberia in 2015 when the Rev. Jerry P. Kulah, now dean of the Gbarnga School of Theology, distributed the first bikes and Bibles during the Liberia Annual Conference.

Joe Kilpatrick of the North Georgia Conference coordinates the ministry.

Pastor James Yarkpawolo said his pastoral ministry at Telemu United Methodist Church has greatly improved since he received a bicycle.

“I start worship services and other programs at the church on time and my members are now in attendance,” he said.

Yarkpawolo said that most members will only come to church once the pastor is in the community and visits their homes as a reminder for any activities at the church. He said that most of his members are farmers who are not willing to waste time waiting for pastors who will come late because of distance.  

“Either you sleep in the town with them or arrive very soon so that they will know that you are in town for the church program, which includes worship,” Yarkpawolo said.

When asked why the district or annual conference could not assign individuals who already lived in the communities, the Rev. Cecelia Marpleh, district superintendent, said the district was trying to implement the itinerancy policy of The United Methodist Church.

“We have had one pastor in one town for the last 10 years and that is not good for the growth of the church and its ministry to the people,” she added.

Marpleh said that the bikes and Bibles given to the district by the Liberia Annual Conference are helping the pastors who received them.

“In this rural church ministry, the main thing that we need is transportation since most of the pastors are volunteering their services to the district,” she said.

Swen is a communicator in Liberia. News media contact: Vicki Brown, Nashville, Tennessee, (615) 742-5470 or [email protected]. To read more United Methodist news, subscribe to the free Daily or Weekly Digests. 

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