"Steal from Steal, Makes God Laughs"
By Elder Siahyonkron Nyanseor
May 31, 2002
As I was surfing the Internet the other day, I came across an article published by The News newspaper in Monrovia in which it was reported that the offices of the “Liberia for Jesus Crusade” had been burglarized, and that the Crusade’s National Coordinator, Rev. Kortu Kaye Browne had complained that the burglary created a major setback to the information and data system of the Crusade because "all information and data about the ...crusade, from last year to last weekend, were taken away during the commission of the crime."
Oh, what a heinous crime committed against an organization created to cater to the welfare of the Liberian people in the midst of abject poverty and unending warfare by leading them back to Christ for salvation! Or did the crusade have another objective to give a human face to the holy warriors of greed and despair who currently wield dictatorial power in Liberia? We will never know. But even Jesus Christ sounded the warning long ago in the Acts 5:29 that “We must obey God as ruler rather than men.” because whenever Moral Turpitude is absence in those who professed to be the followers of Jesus Christ, there will always be chaos.
For it is recorded in Biblical and theological history that before Pope Urban II’s fateful Crusade of 1095 that established one of worse precedence in the history of Christendom by giving the Church’s so-called Crusaders his “blessing” for them to annihilate those they considered their enemies, it was always the doctrine of Christianity dating back to time of Marcus Aurelius (121-180 CE), that no Christian became soldier. Even active soldiers who became Christians had to abandon military service. And the doctrine was based on a simple fact that as followers of Christ, Christians were seen as peacemakers and not warriors, and serving in the emperor’s legions would have been self-defeating of their belief to love their enemies as themselves. As a result of this stance, many Christians were executed at the behest of the Emperor of Rome, but that did not deter their belief in Christ and his doctrine of peace and charity to all mankind.
So it is a general believe amongst true Christians even today that those who obey and worship God should harm no one, not even their enemies. And Jesus Christ made this doctrine abundantly clear on many occasions when his disciples attempted to defend him in the face of imminent danger. In Matthew 26:52, we are told that when Jesus Christ, the head of Christendom, was being arrested and the apostle Peter attempted to defend him with his sword, Jesus rebuked Peter and said: “Return your sword to its place, for all those who take the sword will perish by the sword.
The Christian Holy book, the Bible gave another example of a disobedient king who led his men to their slaughters in battle by failing to heed the warnings of God. It is said that King Jeroboam ignored a direct prophetic warning from God and dispatched his army in a civil war against Judah. The result was the dead bodies of 500,000 of his soldiers after the war ended. King Josiah and his men suffered similar fate as King Jeroboam’s men when they got involved in a war they had no business being in, in disobedience to God. But unlike Jeroboam who lived to regret his action, King Josiah perished along with his men in battle.
Today, in Liberia, it can be said that all the mishaps we are experiencing have some direct relationship to our not following the LAWS of God or Allah. It is a recognizable fact today that Christianity has changed in many respects, and continued to be bombarded on every side by self-serving ideologues who see it as a stepping-stone to earthly greener pastures. And the Liberian “Crusade for Jesus Christ” organization, with chief patrons such as Charles Taylor and his cronies of plunderers of Liberian natural resources create even deeper concerns for its actual motives.
For if Taylor and his cronies are any integral part of the “Liberia for Jesus” organization at all, then it is likely that the burglary at the Crusade’s offices may just be the beginning of many things yet to come because whenever a people decide to “play church” or to “play with God,” the Almighty doesn’t usually look on them too kindly. The story of Moses and the Israelites in the wilderness is a classic example. God has from time to time warned his followers not to take his Name in vain or engage in acts that fall outside his Grace because He is a jealous God. And since the name of God is not a joking matter, we in Liberia would normally refer to the burglary at the so-called “Liberia for Jesus” offices and the looting of President Charles Taylor and his neighbors’ residences in Arthington on May 13, 2002, for which Senior Inspector of the Liberia National Police (LNP), Col. Ben Wolloh was dismissed as “Steal from steal, makes God Laugh.”
You see moral turpitude is lacking today in many fellow followers of Jesus Christ. And there are glaring examples of such moral turpitudes if we consider that several churches are engaged in legal battles today for covering up sexual abuses of the young ones entrusted in their care, while others will dine and hold hands with any despotic leaders of the world in the name of evangelism as long as a business interest is at stake. And, oh, how often we see our newly converted “over night born again” Christian brethren cry crocodile tears in public and place “Jesus is in Charge” of their nations only to return to their despotic ways the next morning. Indeed, it is when such a mockery is made of our faith that the church leadership needs to speak out against the evils being perpetrated, and reprimand the so-called evangelists who through business alliances with these despots bring shame on our faith
We learned that despite Rome’s many achievements, her legions were unable to conquer one insidious enemy: corruption. So in the end, corruption and immorality hastened Rome’s down fall. And in Acts 24:22-26, we also learned that the apostle Paul refused to partake of the corruption of his day and suffered the consequence. We are told that Paul’s interrogator, the Roman governor Felix apparently recognized Paul’s innocence, but Felix was one of the most corrupt governors of his day (like Charles Taylor of Liberia) that delayed Paul’s trials in the hope that Paul would give him money to secure his release. But, Instead of bribing Felix, Paul continued to proclaim his message of “righteousness and self-control” that Paul remained in prison rather than try to sidestep the legal process with a bribe. He preached a message of truth and honesty, and he lived accordingly. “We trust we have an honest conscience,” he wrote to Jewish Christians, “as we wish to conduct ourselves honestly in all things” (Hebrews 13:18).
Seeking justice is not a matter of choice. It is an obligation. Because as people of conscience, we are compelled to expose all injustices, regardless of who commits them. And those of us who professed to be the followers of Christ, it should be within our nature to do GOOD; to treat others as we would have them treat us. We should do GOOD at all times because it is the RIGHT thing to do, not only when it suits our interest. This is why some of us find it hard to overlook or remain neutral in matters that involved the violation of the rights of others, like in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and anywhere atrocities are committed.
As Christian believers in peace and justice, we should know that to demand these rights is a sacrifice sacrifice like the one Jesus made on the cross in our behalf. We should know that we will be targeted for criticism, ridicule and alienation, but since we have accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior and whatever struggles and sacrifices associated with our belief in Him, we must muster enough courage to remain steadfast in our conviction and dedication to fight for what is right no matter the enormity of the challenges we face.
Vance Havner reminds us that “the gospel is not something we go to church to hear; it is something we go from church to tell”, while the Rev. Dr. Nya Kwiawon Taryor, Sr. also reminds us in “Justice, Justice: A Cry Of My People” that: ”True Reconciliation comes through confrontation that is what God did in the case of Pharaoh who oppressed his people. He did not call Pharaoh to a round table committee meeting for reconciliation. No. Instead God confronted the Pharaoh and drowned the oppressors in the Red Sea and liberated the oppressed.”
The Bible condemns unfair dealings or partiality. Therefore, those of us who say we worship God must reject every unjust and pretentious practice. As Christians, we need to beware of the “Devil in Christian Robe” or the “Wolf in Sheep Clothing”, to use a popular adage. Wearing a Christian robe doesn’t make one a Christian. It is the Christ-like principles that person lives by that makes him or her a Christian and these principles have nothing to do with going to church on Sundays.
Philip Yancey, a renown theologian once wrote that, “The Romans enforced worship: in Jesus’ own lifetime, some Jews were slaughtered for not bowing down to Caesar. But Jesus Christ never forced anyone to believe in him. He preferred to act by appeal, draw people out of themselves and toward him.”
And if I may go a step further, Jesus did not condemn nor excommunicate his followers for disagreeing with his teachings either, like most church leaders of our day do. “True, there is no believing without some doubting. But since belief strengthens as Christians understands and resolves doubt, we can say that, if we doubt in believing, we nevertheless (are) also believing in doubting,” theologian Os Guinness wrote years ago.
In short, it is not enough to say let bygones be bygones as most Liberians are inclined to say. It is one think to say let bygone be bygone, but quite another thing to reconcile and break bread together. However, if an individual who knowingly or unknowingly commit a sin and wants to be forgiven by others, that person must first be willing to confess to the sins he or she has committed, and then go on to repent for said sins.
But in Liberia, we have the tendency to speak about forgiveness without being willing to confess to our sins and change our old ways. For instance, Charles Taylor and his co-conspirators in the destruction of Liberia who mistreated and continued to mistreat the people of Liberia have yet to recognize the great sacrifices made by the Liberian people to elect a warlord in the name of peace and security. So, instead of waving the olive branch of peace and rebuilding the nation, Taylor and his men continued to demonstrate their lack of patriotism and vision by rewarding the people with more punishments and miseries.
By now, it is a known fact that the July 19, 1997 elections that brought Taylor to power was not based on the Liberian people’s love for him, but rather on common sense - the will to live. It was the general belief then and now that if Taylor had not been voted into office the Liberian people would have continued to be held hostage by Taylor and his NPFL rebels and peace would have been unattainable.
But that is in the past. What is pressing is that Taylor has failed miserably at the opportunity given him by the Liberian people to prove himself. He ought to be told the truth about his incompetence instead of being pampered by the so-called evangelism crusade dubbed “Liberia for Jesus” which only tend to make a mockery of Christendom and Jesus Christ, the head of the Christian faith. This kind of carelessness by some of our Christian brethren in Liberia and their American benefactors clearly shows the absence of Moral Turpitude by those who professed to be the followers of Jesus Christ.
The only plausible engagement the Christian community ought to have with Taylor and his cronies is to prevail on the government to restore to the Liberian people such basic necessitates of LIFE as electricity, clean environment (air), safe drinking water, health, quality education, jobs, freedom of speech, press, movement and an independent judicial system. For my Christian brethrens “no person is your friend who demands your silence or denies your right to grow.”
The theologian Harvey Cox reminded fellow Christians about the challenges of our time when he wrote: “To be a disciple of Jesus does not mean to emulate or mimic him. It means to follow his ‘way’, to live in our era the same way he lived in his - as a sign and servant of the reign of God. To ‘follow’ Jesus does not require us to choose twelve disciples or turn water into wine but to take his life project - making the coming of God’s reign of Shalom real and immediate - our own”, theologian Harvey Cox admonished fellow Christians.
Indeed, if we look back on the burglary at the offices of the “Liberia for Jesus” Crusade and the series of looting masterminded by a senior Liberian police inspector in the chaos of a civil war, as also reported by The News newspaper May 16, we can only imagine the hardship and despair that have gripped the people of Liberia. And the fact the president’s home was equally looted as others by his own police inspection brings us back to the Liberian proverb that “Steal From Steal, Makes God Laugh.”
About the author: Elder Siahyonkron Nyanseor is the Vice Elder of the Board of Elders of the International Christian Fellowship (church), ICF, located in Atlanta, Georgia. ICF was founded on October 5, 1986 by the right Rev. William B. G. K. Harris to meet the spiritual, cultural, social and economic needs of its membership and the larger community. ICF is a Christ-centered, interdenominational international church, with over 500 members.