Other Voices: Letters to the Editor and Questions & Answers Arising fom Previous Issues
ICF RESPONSE TO SUNGBEH'S ARTICLE
In the October/November (Vol. 2 No. 2) issue of The Perspective, a publication of the Liberian Democratic Future, there was an article, entitled "International Christian Fellowship (ICF) Celebrates the Birth of Vision." The article misrepresents the vision and mission of the International Christian Fellowship Church. ICF does not take kindly to publication that misrepresents our vision and mission. Therefore, we want to correct the facts about ICF's vision, mission and its activities that Mr. Tewroh-Wehtoe Sungbeh, a contributor to The Perspective grossly misrepresented to the public.
1. ICF Vision and Mission: Mr. Sungbeh's article ("ICF Celebrates the birth of Vision") did not clearly express ICF's vision: He stated, Rev. Harris interpreted that ICF vision by establishing a ministry that meets the "spiritual, cultural and social needs of international people." Therefore, we would like to explain what our vision and mission are.
The foundation of ICF vision is rooted in the word of God which states, "Where there is no vision, the people shall perish" (Prov. 29:18). ICF vision emanates from God's instruction represented through four pillars - Spiritual, Cultural, Social, and Economics (Psalm 137 & Jeremiah 29:1-7). This is symbolic to the Israelites who were foreigners in a strange land like the members of ICF in the United States. ICF vision is to help members understand and apply the four pillars (Spiritual, Cultural, Social, Economics) in achieving God's divine will for them.
Our Mission Statement interprets our vision: "We are an instrument of God's Love and Mercy committed to our spiritual growth and cultural enrichment; working and walking in the footsteps of Jesus Christ; and planting spiritual seeds for Christian discipleship to the world."
2. Construction of ICF Sanctuary: It was communicated in Sungbeh's article that "the snail like pace of the construction of ICF sanctuary was due to bureaucracy, inability to get loan for a large sum of money, and inadequate design and structure without an explanation of the underlying reason."
The construction of a sanctuary or any building for that matter where limited resources are used will proceed slowly. What explanation does he needs? If we are not able to acquire loan to speed up the pace of our construction, where does that suggest financial fraud or mismanagement as the article insinuated. Mr. Sungbeh should have investigated a little further then he would have understood and perhaps appreciated the many challenges we are faced with.
3. Decision Making Process & Financial Accountability: Sungbeh stated that "Church officials are withholding crucial information about the church's finances." "Church involvement in a number of projects without the full participation and knowledge of the congregation until after the fact.... Decisions were made by Rev. Harris and a select few."
ICF is a church and a legal non-profit organization. It elected Rev. William B. Harris as its pastor who acts as the CEO per the constitution of the organization. As a legal non-profit organization, we have a board, committees, rules and regulations that govern the church's decision making process and actions. The Board members are elected to represent the congregation and it is at those meetings that financial matters are discussed and actions taken. The record of ICF finances are open for review.
4. Economic Ventures: It was presented in the article that the congregation was not aware of the deals. What deal? However, our records showed that the Board and the congregation are cognizant of ICF's economic ventures.
5. Rev. Bacon Issue: The Sungbeh Article indicated that Rev. Bacon was fired because of policy differences with Rev. Harris. According to our records, Rev. Bacon was never fired. He resigned after the Board of Elders met and took a decision. It was after the decision, he resigned.
We know that the sustainability of a publication depends on the reliability and validity of the information published among other factors. Your readers which include a large number of ICF members demand nothing less. You may wish to arrange a meeting with the ICF's Administrative Board to clarify issues and to be better informed of ICF's vision, mission and activities. We hope that you will do justice to the vision and mission of ICF which undergirds all its ministries by cross checking its sources. We hope that in the future, contributors to The Perspective will conduct balance reports on issues regarding institutions and individuals.
By Elder Jared Brandy, Bro. Doughba C. Caranda II & Evan. Dr. Yomi Noibi
Let me congratulate you for the great efforts that you're making in publishing The Perspective. I admire your boldness in confronting the Liberian situation that almost everyone else tries to avoid. I love the magazine and I hope you will not relent.
I am a constant reader of Mr. Smith's Liberia's Ugly Past. However, I was surprised that Smith bought into the half truths and downright tinkering with statistics and other facts in our history. I make reference to the number of Americo-Liberians in our country. I think, the number is far less the 40,000 stated in the article.
Please convey to Mr. Smith my gratitude for his hard-hitting, fact-filled revelations of our past. I enjoyed his piece that featured Edward Wilmot Blyden. Congratulations!!
Arthur Dee Johnson
Please allow me to voice my views in your paper. First of all, thanks for bringing this unique publication to the Liberian community. I have never seen a bold, assertive and provocative yet relevant newspaper about Liberia until now.
Now that the old political monopoly has regained control of Liberia, and the progressive movement and their allies, who wanted a government based on free exercise of democracy neutralized, I am sure one party rule is around the corner. But, we must not allow that to happen. Liberia has some difficult days ahead.
Thanks for the space.
Edmund S Morris
Brooklyn, New York
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
Q: Mr. Editor, the other day I heard of ULAA's rally against the so-called human rights abuses by the Taylor government. The Taylor government was inaugurated just yesterday. Reading though your Oct/Dec '97 issue, I am convinced that the rally gained your fullest support. I am darn sure that some Liberians are just jealous. Why can't we give this new democracy a breathing room? Let's think of how we can rebuild Liberia.
A: Many thanks, Dave. The best thing that we Liberians can do about this so- called new democracy is to nurture it while the process is in its infancy. Taylor and many of his lieutenants have no democratic history. They came to power at the expense of human life, so human rights which is one of the pillars of democracy is not a national priority. We cannot afford to be complacent and allow forces predisposed to dictatorial leaning to take root.
Besides, no one gave President Doe enough breathing room before we began to engage his dictatorship. That was appropriate and right then, it's even more so now.
Q: The Perspective seems to suggest that Senator Minor is the second most powerful leader in Liberia - I strongly disagree. Why do you think she has such a power?
New York, NY
A: Dabeh, We gather you have been reading The Perspective. Being close to the president in and out of itself is not a bad thing. Perhaps, you know more about the relationship between President Taylor and Sen. Minor than we do.
From reliable information in the public domain, the president has become increasingly dependent on Sen. Minor as one of his closest and key advisers.
Q: Thanks for publishing this paper. I have not seen any Liberian paper like this. Keep up the good job. How long you have been publishing this paper?
G. Krangai Menkaley
East Orange, NJ
A: Many thanks for the compliment. The Perspective has been in circulation since June 1996. The publication of a newspaper such as The Perspective is as expensive as it's time-consuming. So, we hope you and others will subscribe to keep this endeavor going.
Q: What about this blacklist? Do you believe that Taylor and his supporters will sit down and write down 100 names of Liberian to be killed? It does not make a bit of sense.
S. Detiaty Wolor
A: The Perspective is committed to providing information that is accurate and verifiable. But the problem with such a list is that no one is prepared to claim its authorship. However, prevailing circumstances in Liberia demand caution; hence a wide range of possibilities.
Q: "Liberians Thrown Out Of Heaven And Hell" was a nice title, but the author missed the point. Liberians do not need green cards. Most of these people who are advocates for green cards supported Taylor. Why do they need green cards now when Taylor's election can be considered as a dream come true for them? They must go home.
A: Amos, your point is on target.
Q: Some of the people think that members of the House of Representatives attending Cabinet Meetings is bad. Liberia is a nation trying to get on its feet. Does it really matter if some of them representatives attend Cabinet Meetings in order to share idea as to how best to reconstruct Liberia? As you know, this has nothing to do with separation of powers.
Joseph Y. Jones
A: Joe, nothing is inherently bad about this. However, the best way to go about this matter is for the president to invite leading members of the legislature to the Executive Mansion to gauge their views on his legislative priorities.
Our history is replete with memories of the all-assuming presidents which did not advance democracy in Liberia. We should be leery of any unusual political gratuity.
Q: I have few questions, which I pray that you carry, concerning the Dokie case: Why is the trial taking place in Gbarnga? How many suspects and state witnesses in the case? Is the Taylor government the defendant? Who is prosecuting the case? Is it true that Benjamin Yeaten left the country?
T. Sieh Dumu
San Francisco, CA
A: Under Liberian law, a case may be tried in circuit in which the offense took place. In the Dokie case, murders took place in Gbarnga. According to the Ministry Justice, five persons were original charged with the murder of Samuel Dokie and others. However, the government set three persons free, so they will serve as state witnesses. They are all former members of the SSS. The other two, also former SSS officers, pleaded not guilty. The presiding Judge is William Metzger. The state is prosecuting the case. No. The Taylor government is not a defendant in this trial. Four other men are at large and have been ordered arrested for their alleged involvement in the murder. Yes, Benjamin Yeaten is reportedly out the country.