Liberia needs a heart transplant

By Alexander Redd

Redd says Liberians must show genuine love in word and deed


We are witnessing a unique fractured time in our nation’s history. It is not our worst, but far from our best. Only together in oneness of spirit and heart that we will rebuild the trust we seem to have lost in each other. Our affection for the rule of law conflates with perceived self-pride and above-the-law mentality. Historically, we have seen the rise of organized protests and other means of civil disobedience against state government. Why so? One may argue that the chief culprit of conflict in our homeland is the lack of love for each other, which manifests in all that is going wrong in various communities and at the national level. Whether it is past or present conditions of economic meltdown, leadership failure, family breakdown, inequity, injustice among other things – our failure to embrace one another with authentic love for country undermines tangible progress.


Some Liberians perceive that the failure to reconcile our differences following the infamous coup in 1980, coupled with the civil war, as just a sliver of havoc that has strewn across our nation for decades. Those differences underscore the gulf between state government and the masses in many respects. There is a larger havoc that we continue to stoke at one another without remorse. That is, internalized sin of hatred. While the root of our country’s problem and even in our lives is spiritual in nature – inward sin – the lack of godly love for self, others, and country – creates wedge of disunity.

Our national crisis can be directly traced to the lack of authentic love, heart of compassion, kindness and respect for the dignity of our fellow citizens. The resulting realities of hatred, murder, envy, revenge, covetousness, corruption among other vices fueled the present stalemate. These inward sinful habits against each other not only hamstring national development, but suppress an ideal sense of national unity, which is the very essence of patriotism. Many of our citizens are apprehensive about the future, evincing fresh doubts about the government’s political viability to lead. The Coalition of Patriots (COP), an organized group of protesters, recently raised this concern.  


Of course, public outcry is an appropriate avenue by which peaceful citizens can assemble to create awareness for change concerning unfair governmental policy practices. At the heart of these unfolding events, we are to be mindful of the behavior of the few who continue to rip at the fabric of our nation. Liberia is built on God’s gracious providence with living hope, strength, and diversity. In time, God will not allow the unpatriotic behavior of the few to determine the course and destiny of Liberia. However, it is maddening to see many folks who dismiss the spiritual connection to our country’s problems. They criticize the zealous efforts to portray God’s character as the paradigm upon which we can fix the mess facing our country.

They argue that the church, including its leaders and congregants, has devotedly prayed, fasted, and participated in peaceful negotiations to restore normalcy; and yet reconciliation, peace, and stability seem to elude us. Thus, they conclude that even prayer and fasting are not good enough. If praying and fasting are not good enough, what then is good enough to restore Liberia? Conversely, human autonomy is not good enough, either, because it breeds anarchy as we have historically experienced. Moreover, I believe that until the church (every professed believer in Christ Jesus) can internalize the living Spirit of God and live as disciples of Christ through outreach of genuine love toward one another, our country will continually wobble in its quest for lasting peace and stability.


For so long, we have focused too much on the what, where, why, and neglected the “how” of fixing the problems of our homeland. It is a tradition to begin our new year with an intentional focus on God. Yet in all of these decades, I have seen people miss the heart of the matter time and time again. Yes, they go through the motions of prayer and fasting, skipping the food, television, entertainment, music, or whatever it is they choose to fast from. Yes, they ask the Lord for the breakthrough they so desire in their lives. Nevertheless, in the end, they do not receive it. They are no better off than before the weeklong solemn assembly began. I have seen this happen far too many times.

The frustration of unanswered prayers or fast leads to the question: “What am I doing wrong?” The answer to such question usually ends up in a similar vein as others who ask – on the heart. The reason for this is simple – a consecrated time of solemn assembly, of prayer and fasting before the Lord must begin from within where we align our hearts with the very heart of God. It cannot just be something we attend and cross off our list, despite our best intentions. It is not about clocking in and clocking out. It is not about the actions. It is not even about the words we say, the prayers we pray, or the songs we sing.

It is all about the heart, for out of the heart flows the wellsprings of life (Proverbs 4:23). It is about our hearts being filled with the right stuff — the very Spirit of God’s own heart. When we have His heart, our inward thoughts and our outward actions will naturally reflect Him (1 John 4:16). When we have His heart, our prayers will be answered (Psalm 37:4; John 15:7). He promised us in His Word. In biblical times, the people of Israel outwardly did the righteous things of prayer, fasting, and reading the Scriptures. Yet they did not always experience God’s presence or power in response to their actions (Isaiah 58). They wanted to know that since they had done their part, why God had not kept up His end of the bargain.

God let his people know that religious rituals without an authentic spiritual relationship was a waste of time. Because God was so clear in letting them know why He did not respond to their religious actions and activities, we can avoid fasting or praying in futility by paying attention to what God said as recorded in the Scriptures – and applying it to our own personal and national situations. When we do this, we will experience God’s response to us in a positive and life-changing manner. Perhaps, you have experienced a similar thing. You have fasted and prayed for a mate, a child, yourself, your job – our nation…and yet you have seen no improvement, no breakthrough. It is as if God did not even take note. You are like the people of Israel standing before Him and asking, “I did my part; why aren’t You doing yours?” So, you hesitate to do it again.


God’s response to the nation of Israel is His response to us as well. Through Isaiah, God let His people know that fulfilling religious rituals when there was no authentic spiritual relationship was a waste of effort and time. Participating in external, albeit legitimate, religious activities (fasting, prayer, reading Scripture, etc.) without the internal relational reality with God, Himself, just did not cut it. Those who complain that the Liberian church has done everything in seeking peace and stability through all religious activities and yet no tangible results, should rethink the dimension of their spiritual relationship with God as well as the manner and way in which they treat others around them.

God is letting us know that the motivation behind our fasting and praying may amount to mere personal gain, not His glory. God wants our relationship with others, which is in disrepair, reveal the true nature of our hearts. Essentially, a heart aligned with God will reflect God’s nature – and God’s nature is of justice, equity, faithfulness, forgiveness, kindness, and love. First John 4:8 says, “The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”

The love described in First John 4:8 stands out in Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth. It is love that never gives up. True love cares more for others than for oneself. Love does not want what it does not have. Love does not strut, does not have a swelled head, and does not force itself on others. Genuine love is not always “me first.” Does not fly off the handle (become extremely angry), does not keep score of the sins of others, and does not revel when others grovel. Love takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, puts up with anything, trusts God always, and always looks for the best, never looks back, but keeps going to the end. Love never dies. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8 The Message)

That is the definition of God’s heart: Love – the compassionate and righteous pursuit of the well-being of others. We learn in Hebrews 1:3 that Jesus Christ is the “exact representation “of God’s nature. Jesus modeled love in all that He did. Therefore, as disciples of Christ living in the church age today, we are to be reflections of Him who reflects the Father. We are to be a people of love. That should always be our motive. If our vertical relationship with God is genuine, then we can be the visible manifestation of the horizontal Jesus to others.

When we are not, something is amiss in the vertical relationship with God Himself. When something is amiss in the vertical, our fasting and praying – like the Israelites despite their zeal and efforts – will remain futile. Fasting and praying is more about filling our hearts with that which fills God’s own, and then letting that love overflow. The fast and prayer that God requires is kindness, love, service, giving, mercy, and humility.


Friends and fellow citizens, do we want the light of the Body of Christ to break out like the dawn across our nation? Do we want our country to experience a speedy recovery from what plagues it? Do we want God’s guidance in our healthcare, economics, and education ? Do we want to repair the breach and restore our church’s influence, cities, and our country? If the answer is yes, then we have to do the “if” that comes before it. It is dependent on that. Because the fast or prayer that will get God’s attention is to love others in both word and action. God essentially chooses a pray or fast, that sums up in one word: Love. Love is done in seeking the welfare and good of one another in loosening the bonds of wickedness that keep so many of our citizens in a state of despair.

Love will undo the bands of the yoke and let the oppressed go free. Or as the prophet Micah puts it, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8). Yes, it is far easier to simply bow the head and sit on some ashes to fast and pray. It is easier to call together a gathering where we confess a few sins, promise not to do them again, and ask God for our breakthroughs. Yet that is not what God is asking us to do, at least not only that. God says clearly that the fast He wants is a fast of intentional love – love in action.


When we do those things, coupled with a heart of humble contrition before the Lord for our individual, familial, and corporate sins, He says He will do His part in bringing power, life, and healing to us and to our homeland, Liberia. We have to stop pointing fingers at those we do not agree with in a different political party, denomination, or cultural context. Stop speaking wickedness and judgment against those we do not like. Replace berating with winning people to Jesus Christ through compassion and kindness. We must allow wholehearted love for God and His character to overflow into our homes, community of people, and society.

We must clothe the naked, rather than expose them or watch them on the internet when no one is looking. We must satisfy the desire of the afflicted rather than ignore them as we satisfy our own desires instead. We are to do all this, however, without compromising truth or biblical standards. In order to influence our country for good and turn our nation to God, we – His people – must fast and pray with His heart. For only when we have His heart, will we invoke His hand to heal and restore our country.

The author, Alexander Redd, is a Liberian and Christian theologian. You can reach him at