You can check out Aaron's great blog here: http://aaronwymer.blogspot.com/
We had a Pokemon Pizza Party tonight at the townhouse. I'm told that about 11 or 12 kids were here, but I'm sure there were about 1,000. Ordered lots of super cheap pizza from the local Little Caesar's in Nicholasville, and found out that four year olds don't eat like teenagers, so I invited lots of other people to come get a slice of pepperoni, including (sampling pizza for the first time, I'm guessing) Rev. Jerry Kulah.
Jerry Kulah is an ordained UM-pastor in Liberia, and part of the first of three waves of International Beeson Pastors we'll see this year. The short history of Liberia is that it is an African nation settled by former slaves from the United States. For the longer version, here's Liberia as defined by Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberia).
Jerry doesn't know it, but his story is pretty amazing. Jerry grew up in the church. Even met his wife while still in High School when they were competing on "Bible Quiz" teams. In 1989, Civil War erupted in Liberia, and Jerry, fearing for this life (as the possibility of his being conscripted into one army, or the other, I would imagine, was real) fled to Nigeria. For the next two years, he lived and worked in a Liberian refugee camp, leading people in Bible study, worship, and generally, as he put it, reminding people that "God had not forgotten them".
A refugee servant to a refugee people.... amazing!
Anyhow, in 1991, the opportunity for Jerry to continue his studies in Lagos, Nigeria opened up, and he began the long work of finishing his undergrad and Master's Degrees. In 1992, his brother paid for a ticket for Jerry's High School sweetheart, Ruth, to come to Nigeria, where they could be together, and she could complete her accounting degree (her university shut down, of course, because of the war). They were married on the seminary campus where Jerry was going to school, the service provided by friends on campus, as both Jerry and Ruth had left their country with very little.
As time went by, Jerry began to get a clear vision of what God wanted him to do in Liberia. Having earned his degree, and taught at the seminary for a number of years, Jerry felt called to return, find his family, and begin looking for ways to raise up educational institutions and churches that had been destroyed in a war that had raged for 8 years. The only problem was that the war was still being fought, and now Jerry and Ruth had two kids.
"I didn't know if my family was alive or not and we had nothing to go back to... but I just knew we had to return to Liberia." Thus, in 1997, they went home to a very uncertain future.
But remember what I said in the last post... about having faith in the end of history as its defined by the Bible. Well, Jerry believes that someday, the earth will be renewed, and good will triumph over evil, so he just decided to practice that belief right now.... in the middle of a war.
(I told you his story was amazing!)
For the next six years as the war continued, Jerry did what he could to get a school back up and running. He helped teach at the school, and after a couple of years, also took on a church. The war had seasons of greater or lesser intensity, and finally, with the capitulation of President Charles Taylor (you is awaiting his trial for crimes against humanity in The Hague) ended in 2003.
Since then Jerry has been ordained as an Elder, and now works for the Liberian Annual Conference training new pastors, helping get schools open, equipping congregations through different means of education, re-integrating returning refugees, and helping get churches started or re-started. He and Ruth now have four children, three handsome boys, and beautiful little girl. He will be, I expect, a very important leader in the Liberian United Methodist Church, which is strong and growing, for quite some time, hence his being chosen to be a Beeson Pastor (Note: The international BP's don't apply, they get chosen for this doctoral program, and let me tell you, they are serious movers and shakers in the global Christian movement).
His wife, by the way, earned her accounting degree, and works for the an NGO that makes microeconomic loans to Liberians looking to start small businesses so they can support their family (The NGO is supported by War Child International - here's the link: http://www.warchild.org/).
Anyhow, the couple of pieces of really cheap pizza and the glass of lemonade I gave up to hear this story were not adequate payment. So, to do what I can with what I have, I'm asking all loyal bloggers out there to be on the lookout for a used video projector. Why, per say? Well, just like the US Beeson Pastors, Jerry and his colleagues received new laptop computers as a part of the Beeson experience. Because he does a lot of teaching and training in schools and seminaries all over the country, Jerry would love to take with him a small generator, his laptop, and a video projector to simplify, streamline, and improve the experience for his students.
Jerry didn't ask me to do this, by the way. The subject came up while we were looking through some pictures, and I happened to see a video projector in one of them. He's looking for one even as we speak. I just thought maybe I'd help him if I could.
If anyone out there works for a school, church, business, or some other organization looking to off-load a video projector that's still got some good life in it, if they'd be willing to give it up for a good cause, I can make sure the proper tax credit is received. If you want to talk further about this, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org , and let's see where the talking takes us.