From Rhode Island to Liberia, with love: Immigrant church in the U.S. has big dreams for bringing hope and healing to its war-torn homeland (reporting from Providence, R.I.). Page 1 lead.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — In the bustling core of Rhode Island’s capital, Liberian immigrants crowd into a simple white building with “Providence Church of Christ” painted in fading red letters above the front door.
On a blue-sky Sunday, men clad in button-down shirts and women sporting colorful African headscarves greet each other in a concrete parking lot surrounded by a chain-link fence.
Tall trees adorned in bright green anchor a sprawling urban cemetery just beyond the fence, casting shadows over the church building as vehicles zip by an auto-parts store and appliance business across the street.
Giggling children — most born in the United States after their families fled two decades of civil war — scamper to the basement for Bible class.
More than 4,000 miles of the Atlantic Ocean separate the refugees from their west African homeland, where women were raped and children turned into “killing machines” in fighting and ethnic cleansing that claimed 250,000 lives.
Despite the fresh starts they have made in America, the hearts of these devoted Christians remain in Liberia — amid the orphans who wander the streets begging for scraps and the villagers still grappling with physical and psychological trauma.
Modern-day parables: This is country music. Inside Story.
This post highlights my stories in the December 2012 print edition of The Christian Chronicle.