Celebrating Transformations

July 5, 2012 • Liberia

ABC University, a newly rebuilt Bible college in Liberia, is graduating its first class since the campus was destroyed during the civil war

By Joni Byker

In March of 2008, I accepted a job with Samaritan’s Purse to host volunteer construction teams in rebuilding the African Bible College. ABC was the largest Bible college in West Africa—until rebels decided to claim anything and everything of value for their own. What was once a gorgeous campus was completely overgrown and destroyed.

In 2008, Samaritan’s Purse began a partnership with ABC, with the goal of rebuilding and re-opening the campus.

It was not an easy task.

Team after team of volunteers came and served—all grasping the vision of ABC. Before we knew it, each of the 20 original buildings had been restored and the first post-war class began courses after a 20-year lull.

The campus was buzzing with activity once again.

But it didn’t stop there. The college wasn’t growing just in academics, but also in skilled labor. Through the leadership of Dave Petersen, James Hooper, and Jeremy Kilday, the 50-man Liberian crew has grown in their construction expertise. There are seven more buildings on campus than there was 20 years ago, providing ample opportunity for the men to add new skills to their portfolios.

Every morning before the workday begins, the men gather for devotions, allowing them to share individually what God is doing in their lives. Just as Nehemiah rebuilt the wall, these men continue to work together with Samaritan’s Purse to rebuild African Bible College University.

Hosting teams for the first 18 months of rebuilding, I saw these men transform into confident construction workers, and followers of Jesus. I was there when SP handed out Bibles to each of these men—it was the first Bible many of them have ever owned. I was there when they opened them as if it was their greatest treasure. I was there when Dave Petersen shared with them that besides all of the skills they are learning, the Word of God was the best gift he could ever give them.

I know that their growth continues each day. Every time I talk with Dave, he shares how much the men are learning—both spiritually and professionally. Just last week they constructed the mezzanine in the new gymnasium—the first off-the-ground cement pouring project they have attempted, especially without all of the modern technology that makes cement work easier. Dave walked them through the process, building a 36-foot ramp to transport the cement, and soon the men took over and completed the job.

Saturday, May 5, marks the first African Bible College University post-war graduation, sending out 20 devoted and equipped students who will no doubt impact the nation of Liberia and the rest of this region.

But, in the background of Saturday’s festivities, there is a group of men who have worked tirelessly to ensure these students have the facilities they need to grow in the Word of God.