The young people of The United Methodist Church in Liberia raised 500,000 local dollars (the equivalent of $2,500 USD) to send needy young people to school.
The move came months after the Liberia Conference announced that recruiting young people to the ministries of the church is a major part of its strategic plan for the next five years.
According to the president of the Young Adult Fellowship, Victor Howard, the scholarship fund is intended to assure young people that the church cares for their needs.
“Helping our colleagues with school fees is our way of spreading the Gospel,” he said.
Initiated three years ago, the scholarship now will be named the Julius Sarwolo Nelson Scholarship and will be managed by a committee of young people and some adults. Nelson is a counseling elder assigned to Refuge United Methodist Church in Liberia.
To date, the fund has gone to four recipients, all of whom are studying at universities. Moving forward, the scholarship will target about 10 needy students at the secondary level who live in the rural parts of Liberia where the church has a presence, Howard said.
He said that the scholarship is one of the strategies that the Young Adult Fellowship will use to attract other young people to the mission and ministries of The United Methodist Church.
“If we must lead the church in the future, investing in our own education will be the way forward,” he said.
The youth held a fundraising weekend last month to get more people involved. Speaking at Georgia Patten United Methodist Church in Monrovia, the president of its youth fellowship, Cyrus P. Yeni, said the youth of the church were prepared to adopt any meaningful activities that would attract other young people to the group.
The group hosted a soccer match the same weekend between area youth and young adults and had food for sale to raise more money for the scholarships. “If sports will bring our friends, we will start with that and end up in the church where Christ will be preached,” he said.
Yeni pointed out that the more educated the young people were, the better the church would be in the future.
Nelson also spoke during the fundraising program at Georgia Patten. He said he and his family were donating to the scholarship fund because others helped him during his educational journey.
“Someone invested in me and I want to do the same for as many persons as I can help,” he said. He also indicated that he will continue to work with the young people of the Liberia Conference to ensure that they make education a priority part of their activities.
Nelson served as director of the youth and young adult ministries for The United Methodist Church in Liberia for over a decade, in addition to other leadership positions. Now, he is the co-chair of the Council on Connectional Ministries and the Strategic Commission of the church.
Adam N. Bamakpeh, a scholarship recipient and senior studying biology and chemistry at United Methodist University in Monrovia, told United Methodist News that he hopes the scholarship committee continues to focus on young people from rural Liberia. He said the scholarships should reward those with good grades to encourage students to work hard and do their best.
“As someone from rural Liberia, I would not have gotten this far in school had it not been for this scholarship,” he said.
Swen is a communicator in Liberia.