SIM opened its ministry in Liberia in 1954 with a radio station to share the gospel. The original call letters were “ELWA,” which stands for Eternal Love Winning Africa. Later, in the 1960s, SIM developed a hospital that has grown into the present ELWA Hospital.
During the 14 years of civil war, missionaries and a number of Liberian staff were evacuated four times in 1990, 1992, 1996 and 2003. Since 2003, more have returned to work alongside the Liberian staff that had continued to run ELWA.
At present the 80-bed hospital is still housed in the original buildings. The hospital has an outpatient department that sees 150 to 200 patients a day. The hospital also has obstetrics, surgery, an emergency room, pediatrics, family medicine and an HIV unit.
ELWA Hospital buildings are no longer suitable for the task. SIM partner organisation, Samaritan’s Purse, is building a new 120-bed hospital. When complete, this will include a teaching hospital with an SIM-managed residency program to train Liberian doctors.
ELWA Radio continues to broadcast in English and eight of the Liberian national languages. They broadcast on FM and shortwave and are reaching people with the Gospel across Liberia and in the neighbouring countries of Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Sierra Leone and beyond. Not only does the radio offer programmes of encouragement and instruction in the gospel message of God’s love and grace, but it also offers information programmes. At present it is broadcasting messages of instruction and hope regarding the Ebola crisis.
Over the years missionaries have planted a number of churches and during the war these thrived and grew in number. These churches have joined together to form the Evangelical Church of Liberia (ECOL). SIM works alongside Liberian pastors offering training and support. SIM plans to develop a small rural Bible College and a graduate school to train the next generation of church leaders.
SIM’s 136-acre site in Monrovia is home to a school, ELWA Academy (Nursery to Grade 10, with plans to add Grades 11 and 12.) Following the war and collapse of the educational system, some of the churches started their own schools. SIM has a ministry working with these schools and offers teacher training in order to provide a Christian education for Liberian children.
The SIM team has increased to 22 adults and 13 children with 250 employees on the ELWA campus. Two families have moved into the interior to work with the Mandingo and the Bandi people. They translate Scriptures, train pastors and live in the community.
When Ebola first arrived in Liberia from across the border in Guinea, SIM relocated the non-emergency staff and all families. Since it had been 42 days since the last known confirmed Ebola case, the missionaries returned in May, believing that the Ebola crisis had ended.
On June 12, ELWA’s Ebola Case Management Center received its first confirmed Ebola patient. The second wave of Ebola has hit with much more virulent affect.
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