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Despite President Charles Taylor's exile in August, Liberia is awash in weapons toted by crazed teenagers on drugs—the country's Generation AK-47. And hundreds of thousands of Liberians remain displaced within the country's borders and in West Africa—more than 300,000 refugees are in the capital, Monrovia.

But the church in Liberia is beginning to bring healing to the war-ravaged land. Monrovia has started to see signs of stability in recent weeks.

"The people are happy that God has miraculously saved their lives," said Robert Cuppah of the Evangelical Church Union of Liberia, the local partner of SIM (Serving In Mission) International. "By example, we must be a people of hope, and Jesus Christ is the basis of our hope."

Christian businessman Gyude Bryant, an active layman of the Episcopal Church in Liberia, became the president on October 14. One of Bryant's top goals is for child soldiers to be "detoxified and detraumatized." Another is to establish a truth and reconciliation commission in response to gross human-rights violations during the Taylor years.

Even with an international peacekeeping force and, until recently, a small American military presence, simple survival remains the top priority for most people.

"If you have money, you can find food," said Cuppah, a pastor in Monrovia's Sinkor district. Rice, beans, split peas, and corn meal are increasingly available, but he says few can afford them.

Roughly 38 percent of the country's 3.1 million people are Christians. Along with the general population, clergy are scattered and on the run as clashes continue in rural areas, said Beyan Bakar, secretary general of the Association of Evangelicals of Liberia (ael), which comprises 45 denominations and more than 3,000 local churches. ...

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November 2003

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