Liberia: Bassa-English Church Promotes ‘Guinea Kpelle’ Translation
MONROVIA — The 2021’s end-of-Convention Service of Church of the Believers (COB), Inc., held Sunday, March 28, 2021 at COB’s worship center in New Matadi, Sinkor, Monrovia, Liberia, was uniquely entertaining for majority of first-time visitors. The Convention started on Thursday, March 25.
The main program started with a march by the Church, with the female members attired in multi-colors cotton suit (for young people) and white-blue lace suit (for elderly persons)
At the mention of “the Youth group of the Guinean Mission” by the Service’s Moderator, Pastor Arthur M. Reeves, a group of 14 young people (only two females) in uniform (blue top and khaki down) sprang to their feet and stood still like military officers. A cloth was tied around each person’s neck with “JEA” on the part of the cloth at the back side of the neck. Each person held the tips of compact fingers of the right hand over the right eye (sign of military Salute)
The group is collectively named Jenegge Egelique Afrique (JEA)—the French form of African Evangelical Youth—once based in Guinea, but now based in Liberia. The group is a part of the Guinean Alliance Missionary Church, which is a part of the Christian Missionary Mission (CMA). Also called Alliance World Fellowship (AWF), CMA was founded by Albert Benjamin Simpson, a Canadian-American Theologian, Evangelist and Author—born on the 15th of December, 1843, and died on the 29th of October, 1919. He had migrated to America for the globalization of his evangelical works including Church planting.
A male member (named Enoch Kolleh) of the group marched forward, toward the Senior Pastor of the host Church standing behind the podium. He saluted the elderly man and made a statement in French.
“We are glad by your welcoming us,” a man, Peter Mulbah, a member of the guest-Church, relayed in English what the young man had said to the elderly man, Rev. Liberty Zarwulogbo Liberty, Sr., Senior Pastor.
Rev. Liberty reciprocated the young man’s ‘military gesture’ with same. “You are welcome, again,” he repeated.
Later, all members assembled in front of the congregation, where leader Enoch Kolleh explained the various colors in the group’s uniform reflected on a triangular, predominantly red cloth being held by two of the members.
“The black color on our uniform stands for the sin of mankind; the red stands for the blood Jesus shed for our sins,” Enoch explained.
All songs by the Guinean Mission’s choir were in the Guinea’s version of Kpelle—a dialect communicated through by people of one of Liberia’s 15 Counties named Bong.
Songs by musical groups of the host Church were in Bassa (for Mass Choir—comprised of women) and English (predominantly younger persons)
“This group has a unique way of evangelizing. The members create an attention-grabbing scene by dancing and singing Christian songs. When people stand to see the dancing and listen to the singing, the group members begin telling the gathered persons about Jesus,” Evangelist Joseph Lamah, President of the Guinean Alliance Missionary Church, of the Christian Missionary Mission (CMA), explained to this writer at the end of the Church service.
Evangelist Lamah said he is building contractor, as profession, and that his Christian denomination migrated from Guinea to Liberia in 2014.
In Liberia, the Guinean Alliance Missionary Church is in partnership with the Church of the Believers (COB), Inc., a Liberian member of the CMA/AWF, where the Pastor’s English-channeled sermons are often translated into Bassa (Liberian dialect) for many of its members who can’t understand English.
“The success of a Convention is reflected in the various languages present,” declared Rev. Roosevelt Zarwulogbo Liberty, Sr., during his end-of-Convention sermon.
The title of his sermon was “Unity in Christ”, with text taken from Ephesians 4: 1-5.
He said the Body of Christ is under attack from the devilish spirit of division; however, with oneness of mind and a goal by Christians, the mission of unity can be achieved.
“I received a text from the AWF’s Headquarters, saying that Churches that had been divided over long periods are now united,” Rev. Liberty reported to the Liberia-based assembly of members of CMA/AWF auxiliaries.
Rev. Liberty said his wish is “for CMA to take over the entire Africa”, with presence of member-Churches in each African county.
The Choir of a guest-Christian denomination, Christ Foundation Church—located at GSA Road, Paynesville, outside Monrovia—also made its presence felt with songs in “Bassa” (a Liberian dialect) The title of one of its songs was fruits ‘The Tree you plant today will provide the fruit you will eat tomorrow’.
At the concluding stage of the end-of-Convention Service, the leadership of the CMA/Liberia was introduced. The members are: Rev. Roosevelt Zarwulogbo Liberty, Sr., National President and Chairman of the Constitution; Pastor Phillip Zoryou, Vice President; Pastor Arthur M. Reeves, Secretary General; Alfred L.M. Gezaye Member; Evangelist Joseph Lamah, President of the Guinean Alliance Missionary Church; Pastor Isaac Rogers of the Guinean Missionary Church, Member; Pastor Joseph Karbonwen, Member and Treasurer.
The Church of the Believers (COB), Inc. was founded in 1982, and became connected with the Canadian-founded Christian Missionary Alliance/Alliance World Fellowship in 1989 through the evangelical works of COB Founder Rev. Liberty residing in the United States of America in 1994.
In an interview with this writer, the only two female members of JEA gave Marie Sanyea and Jacqueline Kollie as their names.
“Majority of the Guinean Mission’s members are French or Guinea’s Kpelle,” Mr. Alfred L.M. Gezaye, Administrator of the Headquarter-Church of COB, disclosed to me during an interview.