Untied Methodist (John 11:44)

A working preacher in Washington, D.C., wrestles with Scripture, the (sigh) United Methodist Church and his soul.

Name:
Location: Washington, D.C., United States

Currently the pastor of Foundry UMC in Washington, DC, a wonderful and blessed reconciling congregation. Formerly a United Methodist communicator and editor. Formerly a campus minister. Formerly pastor in Philadelphia for 24 years. Graduate of Albright College and Boston University of Theology. Husband of Jane Malone and father of David, Nancy and Naomi. Resident of Capitol Hill, a wonderful place to live! Articles published in Zion's Herald, a must-read magazine for Methodists, a variety of United Methodist publications, the Christian Century, newspapers.

5/14/2005

An e-mail from Liberia

John Juech has gracious given me permission to post portions of an e-mail he wrote me from Liberia. John is a Foundry person currently working with the UN in Liberia. He was responding to an essay found here.

Rev. Snyder,

I just finished reading the article about Liberia that you wrote for the United Methodist News Service. (I found it at http://www.umc.org/interior.asp?mid=7268) Thank you so much for providing witness about your trip! And, especially for showing people the positive side of this troubled land, the real "story", as you put it. I feel great gratitude toward anyone that helps raise awareness about the plight of America's forgotten ex-colony in West Africa. It is tragic how few Americans know about our long and often damaging relationship with this country. The last few days, I have been hosting a journalist from the New York Times Magazine who is writing a story on Liberia and the elections. His article should be published in the NYT magazine sometime this summer. So, look out for that and, whatever else you can do to raise awareness about the importance of the upcoming elections would b! e tremendously appreciated.

We are right in the middle of the voter registration period at the moment here in Liberia. It has been a truly Sisyphean task to set up centers throughout the country for Liberians to register to vote at and then getting the word out, but it seems to be paying dividends so far. Watching ordinary citizens wait in long lines in the hot sun to dip their fingers in indelible ink and register to vote has been one of the most joyous and rewarding experiences of my life. We are expecting that nearly 1.5 million Liberians will register, which represents fully 50% of the population, an amazing figure in a country almost bereft of paved roads and other types of infrastructure.

It is difficult to know what the outcome of the elections in October will be, and a bit scary as well, for the future of the country very much rides on the outcome.

...
Many days I am hopeful about an outcome that would help ordinary Liberians; other days, I fear that the influence of money and corruption will be too much to overcome. Certainly, I constantly pray that things work out in a way that the country's fragile peace process can be maintained and built upon.

Although living and working in this country taxes every aspect of my being, it also brings great joy to have the opportunity to assist Liberians to pick up the pieces and try and build a better future. Not a day goes by where I am not inspired by the courage and resilience of ordinary Liberians to make the most out of very difficult circumstances. It is so humbling as a privileged American to see this day in and day out and learn from Liberians and the way that they go about their lives. I feel so lucky to have this opportunity to be working for the United Nations and contributing to the peace process here.

I am sorry that we were not able to get together while you were here in Monrovia. That was a very hectic time for me, but I would have loved to see you and other representatives of the Methodist Church here, so I regret that it didn't work out. I always appreciated the messages that you delivered during my days at Foundry and the progressive leadership that you provided for the church.

Thanks so much,

John Juech

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