From Greg

Staff Picture: Mark, Paye, Vanessa, Greg, Shad, Bestman, Pastor Richards
Well, Vanessa put me on the spot so I am going to have to write a blog here again! She mentioned a few days back in her post about our visit to Buchanan Central Prison that I would follow-up with some of my perspective on the visit. I am going to try my best to put into words the experience of my first visit to a prison in Liberia. But I can promise before I start this that it will be long and a bit personal. Here it goes…
Early Tuesday we all gathered in the yard to prepare the cars. We were heading to Buchanan Central Prison, a prison about four hours drive from Monrovia. Two cars would be needed to carry us there. I would be going with Shad, Bestman, Pastor Richards, Mark, Paye and another driver, Vanessa, Mattie and I. In case you did not catch that, we would be bringing Mattie with us on this trip. For anyone reading this who does not know who Mattie is, he is my two-month old son. So in total there were nine of us.
Yesterday we worked to prepare our materials – gospel tracts, bibles, and John/Romans booklets as well as clothing for the prisoners. We would be giving each of the prisoners one item of clothing. Some would get shirts and some pants. The items were packed up and ready to be tossed in the back of the cars in the morning.
A few of us gathered the materials as others checked over the cars and added the car-top carrier on Spirit (Spirit is our green car you see in many of the pictures with our logo on the side – not much of a car, but the Spirit keeps us safe and “keeps us on the path” as we travel J- thus the reason for the name).
As we finished most of the preparations everyone began to congregate in the Palava House for prayer. I ran back in the house and grabbed cameras, my bible, tire pump, drinks, and the few last things I could think of to gather in my bag. As I came out the front door, I walked past the diaper bag packed and ready to go. I stopped to pick it up and it hit me like a ton of bricks – I was about to take my wife and two-month-old son to a Liberian prison. Strange, weird, crazy, intense, odd, cool, confused…all of these thoughts went through my head as I stood there looking at the bag. My brain finally got through its processing and I grabbed the bag and headed for the Palava House.
I entered the Palava House and sat down. Everyone was talking, in their fast Liberian-style communication I still struggle to understand, and I realized they were more excited than I had seen them since I arrived. What was it that they were so excited about? We were heading out to visit a prison of about 90 inmates far outside of the city. It was going to be dirty, stinky, disease filled, and possibly unsafe. We were going to visit murderers, thieves, armed robbers, rapists, CHILD rapists, money launderers…and yes the list could go on. We would be traveling for hours on roads that are almost unpassable. We would be dirty, tired, worn out, and hungry. We would not have air conditioning, nice seats, clean cars, good food or restaurants to stop at along the way. There would be no bathroom stops unless it was the side of the road. We wouldn’t have power windows, power seats, power anything for that matter or even a stereo to listen to. Why were the guys so excited??? Don’t get me wrong – I was excited too. For almost a year now I have envisioned this day. The first time I will be able to go into a prison in Liberia and experience the open doors of ministry the Lord is giving us here. But these men have been doing this week-in, week-out for the past year. I struggled to understand their excitement.
Anyway, I talked briefly and made sure we had everything ready to go. Pastor Richards lead us in a heart-felt prayer of safety and protection and committed the trip the glory of the Lord. The prayer concluded and we were off.
The trip was difficult. For those of you reading this who have not traveled in the interior of Liberia, which is likely all of you, it is like nothing you have experienced. For me to say the roads are difficult does not do it justice. In America our road systems are not perfect, but try to imagine this. The roads have holes sometimes larger than our cars and they are everywhere. They call them “pop” holes because if you hit them your tires WILL pop. Small holes are everywhere and it is wet so you cannot really tell how deep the holes are. Sometimes it is safer to get two wheels on the side of the road in the grass because the roads are so difficult. Cars are coming at you from the front and speeding past you from behind. Motorcycles are everywhere and riding down both sides of the road, in the middle of the road, crossing in front of you, speeding past you, you get the picture! On top of that, people are walking down the sides of the street with large wheelbarrows full of merchandise and agriculture. They are walking with huge items on their heads, and coming back from long walks gathering water. There are kids, adults, and everyone in between. Trucks take over the road as they pass and you have to stay out of the way. Because of the heat outside and no air conditioning inside, you have to drive with the windows down. Every truck that passes could not even come close to passing an emissions test in America. They are truly helping create holes in our atmosphere as they spew black funnels of smoke from the sides and behind. Thank goodness there are no green organizations here! The country would have to be shut down. They are loud, angry trucks and splash red, dirty water everywhere as they roll through the holes in the road. If you time it just right, they may just fill your car with this water through the open windows. Our drivers were incredible though and we did not get a single splash on us. But Paye (one of our drivers) did stop the car at one point and when he was waiting for a truck to pass was drenched in mud…quite funny although I wouldn’t have been happy if it was me!
So we drove for what seemed to be forever and finally made it to the prison. Aaahhh! Finally to our destination and I was going to be able to enter a prison for the first time. We stepped out of the car and stretched a bit. Vanessa was holding Mattie as we entered the prison. Now – let me stop here. I fully believed that as we entered the prison we would be stepping into a holding area or waiting area of some sort. But boy was I wrong. We stepped into the prison and not five seconds later I looked and one of the women prisoners was sitting holding my child. There was no waiting or holding area – we were in the prison! Fear and panic began to run through me as I watched in horror, but then God really convicted me. What are we here for? Are we afraid of man, or are we afraid of God? Is God sending us here to preach His word or to sit in fear of what could happen to us. All of my fear, all of my stress and anticipation dissipated and peace settled in. It was as if God was holding my hand as we walked forward. The men in the prison all of the sudden did not look scary, but looked like young boys desperate for a fathers touch. I began to see through God’s eyes the love He had for these men – these wicked men who had committed terrible crimes. But they were no worse off than I. They were no more sinners than I was. God could forgive them just as easy as He could forgive me.
So we walked through a secondary fenced area and into the main outdoor inmate area. There were prisoners everywhere walking around every side of us. They were friendly and kind, smiling and telling us thank you for coming. Our guys began to get them organized into a small circle. About 25 men stood around as we began to speak. Bestman, one of Spirit Liberia’s guys, began to thank everyone for listening and began to speak about the word of God. He called on some of the men to read the scripture and lead an incredible devotional. I soon found out that the men in this outside area were the men that were trusted to be around us. They were men proving they had some good character and it was clear as Bestman spoke that the Lord was working in many of their lives. I was beside myself. I began to see why our men were so anxious and excited to come out here. THE LORD WAS WORKING ON THESE INMATES! It was one of the most spiritually beautiful things I have ever in my life experienced. Men, some of them of very shady pasts, with dedication to reading the word, following the scriptures and living for the Lord. I could not believe my eyes. All of my preconceived notions of prison ministry began to fade and a whole new love for these men was taking place in my heart as I stood and listened and watched.
Soon some of us were called into the main holding cells for the prison. Shad, Pastor Richards, Mark, and I went in. Inside these walls was a sight I will never forget. The prison was dark, not a single light in the entire area besides the sunlight that shone through small windows on top of the cells. There were six cells that housed almost 90 men. The cells were dirty, but not dirty like we see in America. They were pitiful. Men, almost 15 to a cell, lived day in and day out in these cells. They slept on the floors. There were no mattresses and no bathrooms. They had no blankets or TV’s, no chairs and no tables. Some of the men were in underwear. Each cell consisted of four walls and a bucket for a toilet. Men were sick and unkempt. They were not being fed enough, each one skinnier than the next. One man sat and told me that he had been in the prison now for almost a year and because of the lack of sunlight or light in general his eyes were not working well anymore. He could no longer read the scriptures we had given him. He wanted desperately to read the word, but he was no longer able.
Shad and Pastor Richards began to preach and it was as if the Holy Spirit moved down and took over the prison. Men began to intently listen and some told us stories of their lives, the sin they had committed, the families that they could no longer communicate with. There was repentance, salvation, and understanding happening at a pace I could scarcely hold on to. Men were asking for forgiveness, prayer, and telling me of the friendship they were creating with the GOD WE SERVE! The same God I serve is the God they were talking about. The same God I worship here in the states is the same God that was meeting their needs in the prison. They were desperate, but not hopeless. They were dirty, but being cleansed. They were suffering, but joyful.
Lives were being transformed in front of my eyes. Men wanted to tell me about how God was working and convicting and I could barely comprehend it. God was reaching the “least of these” among us through the hands of the men he has committed to my care. Men who did not come to me equipped for this work but men whom God had called for His service. Shad, Bestman, Pastor Richards, and Mark – all of them are men after God’s own heart. These men God has given me to train, equip, and ignite with a passion to serve Him. And yet today I am being taught as their student what it means to be used by a holy, all-powerful God. We serve a God that does not look at our strengths and talents, but who looks at our heart. We serve a God who does not look for the competent but the willing. A God who is searching high and low for those that love Him, and He found four willing and able men who love Him in an incredible way.
My first visit to a Liberian prison…it was everything I ever had imagined but for entirely different reasons. I was excited to go and be seen as a man willing to sacrifice for the Lord. I wanted to be able to see what God is doing first hand, but deep down I believed it would make me something special to be able to say I had been there. But I learned something completely the opposite. I learned that it was not a sacrifice, it was a pleasure. I realized that Christ came to earth to save men just like this; men who our society has written off as unchangeable, unreachable, undesirable. But God sees them as usable for His glory. And these men were used to change my life in one simple visit.
Now I know what it was that my men were so excited about earlier that morning. It was not about the drive, not about the fun, not about anything other than knowing that today we would experience God and the work He is doing in the prisons. These men are carrying the torch of the light of the Word into a dark and desperate place. How rewarding it was to see it first-hand.
In Christ,


Moving In!

The first few days here were spent doing some work around the house/office to get things in order for the family. The "swimming pool" which is just a big tiled hole in the ground standing with rainwater needed to be fenced in so that the little kids won't fall into it. While the guys were working to put the fence up Pastor Valentine from Full Gospel Church in Ganta stopped by. When he saw the project he stayed the rest of the day to help finish it!

While the other guys were working on the fence Pastor Richards and Paye painted closets so that we could unpack the kids clothes. The musty smell inside them was TERRIBLE!

The last major thing that needed to be done was installing the razor wire on top of the fence. So, they loaded 39 rolls into the car and this is what it looked like!

Uloading, it was inside and on top of the car. Check out that sky!

Installation was completed in 1 day.

This is the satellite that gives us internet service, thanks to our friends from Fresh Start Fellowship in Fairview Oklahoma!


Buchanan Central Prison

Friday, August 21st we made the trip to Buchanan Central Prison. It was an interesting trip. The last report we received talked about “a four hours bad road drive”. They were absolutely right! This trip should take about 1-1 ½ hours but it actually takes 4 hours due to the bad road conditions. We have never been out to Grand Bassa County before. It was an interesting trip, full of beauty.

The visit with the prisoners went very well. We were able to preach to the prison yard and then to the cells individually. This was Greg’s first visit to a prison in Liberia. It was an effective and productive trip. We distributed clothing to the inmates and they were VERY thankful. Each person was able to receive one item of clothing, for some it was pants and for others it was a shirt. There are 81 prisoners in total, 3 of them are female. We already have had some great testimonies from the prisoners and some wonderful discussion and questions.

We will be working to put together some agricultural help for this prison. They have prisoners that are ready and willing to work and have already had some good success with small gardens. Here in Liberia it is very common for people who own land that they are not using to allow local people to plant gardens there. This prison in Buchanan had done this very thing, planted a garden on some adjoining property. They had the blessing of the land owner but after the plants had grown and were close to maturity the land owner said he was not aware of them having permission to plant there. I am sure you can see his intention….to enjoy the harvest himself.

I am hoping that Greg will elaborate on this trip. He had some interesting conversations and this was his first opportunity to minister at the prison. Check back for a post from him.

Tomorrow we will be visiting the Kakata Prison. This is a prison we visit regularly. God Bless!

Driving! The white car we rented and in front is our Spirit Liberia car.

Bridge over "Flaming Tongue River"
Arrival at the prison, this is outside the fence.
Bins of clothes that were given out.
This man was alone in the rear of the prison and was HUGE! He has a really great testimony which Greg will tell you about. This was very encouraging!
Inside the prison.
Pastor Richards teaching

Greg, Bestman and Shad inside the prison


An Update....FINALLY!

Just arriving in Liberia! Left to right: Bestman, Shad, Greg, Pastor Richards and Vanessa

Sorry this has taken soooo long! I have a virus on my computer and it has caused some issue with uploading pictures.

We are doing well, the adjustment is definitely chaotic, but it is going well. We are rejoicing! God really paved the way. It was a smooth trip and He cleared our path and we literally had NO lines until we reached Liberia. Even when we landed here, they allowed me to take all of the kids out of the airport while they kept Greg to finish all of the paperwork and to get the bags. What an amazing blessing!

The guys had transportation arranged and we had a wonderfully warm welcome by the churches of Peace Island. Thank you all! When we arrived at the house there was a group here singing and welcoming us. It was special.

We are settling in and things are going well. We made the trip out to the Buchanan Prison. It was a great trip and I will post pictures from that soon.

We have the AMAZING blessing of internet connection from our house! Fresh Start Fellowship in Fairview, OK allowed us to have usage of a satellite which has given us delightfully fast internet service. Thank you so much! This will be so wonderful in helping us communicate with our family and friends.
Me and most of the kids outside the airport along with 2 ladies from Phoenix that are doing some great work here in Liberia!

Relaxing after a long day!


We made it

I just want to let you all know that we made it here! I will do a better post tomorrow! It is 9:30 pm in Liberia now and after traveling for many hours with 11 kids we are tired!!!!

Thank you all so much for the prayer!


When Faith Hits Reality

For those of you who are checking in to see where we are at with the move, be sure to check out Vanessa's blog she just posted before I am putting this one up. It is really a good post. As most of you know, Vanessa really is the one who is doing such an incredible job keeping everyone abreast of what is happening with us with this blog. I (Greg) seldom have time to post things on this blog, but I am working on it.

I have to say that I have such an incredible wife. Vanessa has been a blessing to me from the first day I had the undeserved honor of calling her my wife. God knew what he was doing - although I pray it has not been too hard on her!

I was spending some time praying this evening after everyone went to bed. This is such an incredibly exciting time for all of us. Doing the will of the Father is EVERYTHING it is cracked up to be. I cannot begin to tell you how many times over the past weeks as we have been preparing for our transition that the Lord has stepped in, made himself known, and blessed us to the point of tears. HE IS FOR REAL! And as our faith is hitting reality, GOD IS THERE.

I wanted to post quickly to just make it a public thing that I love my family to death. With all of the preparations that planning that has gone into making this move a reality, my entire family has pitched in, been a part of helping, shown incredible maturity and willingness to help. They are all wonderful.

As we have been preparing for this trip, it is so easy to see how we are doing on our packing. The bags get full, we weight them and get them as close to 50 pounds as possible and move to the next bag or trunk. Each of the kids needed shots, clothes, diapers (well, I think we have a few out of them now!), shoes, underwear (yes, we all still wear them), socks, and a thousand other things. We have had lists, and gone through each one with diligence and steadfastness. It has actually been quite smooth realizing that we had to pack for 13 people. But in the midst of it, the thing that has been the hardest, is keeping focused on Christ.

As I sit here tonight and write I have just finished praying, no begging God that I have not lost sight of the most important thing we had to prepare for...the spiritual battle ahead. It is my responsibility as the head of the home to make sure my family is ready. And many days I have feared that there is just not enough time to prepare. But God knows what he is doing, and he knows he is using damaged, unfit vessels for the work He has called us to. We realize how weak we are, but in Him we have strength to continue on. But the question remains - are we ready? We are not just going to Liberia to do some nice humanitarian projects that bless those we are helping and us in the meantime...we are heading into a warzone! The enemy is not happy and has made it very known to us over the past few months in ways that would have scared me off a year ago.

Liberia has the remains of a wartorn country from years of civil war, but God has brought us through the fear of the physical danger - HE IS IN CONTROL and will protect us. We are stepping onto soil filled with disease and sickness - but God has given us a heart full of love for the Liberian people that far outweights the potential danger of disease and sickness. We are going into an unknown culture, but God has given us hearts full of joy to live among these wonderful people of Liberia and become like family to them and learn from them. We are not scared of the physical dangers or sickness any longer. The Lord has removed that fear. But I continue to fear (in a healthy way) the spiritual battle ahead of us. I fear complacency, I fear compromise, I fear timidity and spiritual weakness. But I fear these things, and will continue to fear these things because I want to see God move through our family. I want to see Him glorified through our service. I want Him to know we love him above all else.

So why am I writing tonight? I am writing to plead with you to continue to pray for us as we go. We do not deserve the prayers that have already been lifted to our Savior for us. We have had so many people tell us they are praying for us. That is possibly the most humbling thing for someone to say to you. We cannot tell each of you who have prayed for us how much it means to us. We pray that God will allow us to simply see fruits from our labors worthy of the prayers that have been lifted to God for our family! And we pray that God will bless each of you that do continue to pray for us. We are walking onto the battlefield and you are right with us!

I want to close with something I feel the Lord is showing me... I have seen so many examples lately of men who have gone to the mission field and dragged their families along with them. The families suffer as the man goes about HIS MINISTRY and forgets about his family. God has called OUR FAMILY to the mission field. In fact, I see it like this: Vanessa and I have been called to begin to clear a airstrip for a bunch of planes that are going to be commissioned to take His message to the world. Our job is to do the hard labor of clearing the path for the planes to leave the hanger. Those planes are our children. And as we clear the fields and ready the planes, they are going to be preparing for the work the Lord has ahead of them. The better we do at clearing the field, the better chance they have at an effective "take-off".

In Christ,


It's almost time!

The passports are ready. Yep! All 13 of them :-)Of those who are still awake, these kids are excited, but VERY tired! It has been a huge task to get everything ready to go! They have been super helpful in pulling it all together. Great job guys! You are being an extraordinary example of the blessing that children are to a family.

This is the luggage. We mostly have large plastic trunks, which are great for this type of travel. They are inexpensive, lightweight and hold a lot. They also have a place for a lock. They are awesome! We have 27 bags not including carry-ons.

Greg, being the chronic over-achiever, had to create a stencil and spray paint the grass from the Spirit Liberia logo on each trunk. I have to admit they look awesome! He also made custom tags for all of the bags with the Spirit Liberia logo and our address in Liberia.

Well, that is it for an update! We will post again as soon as we can! Thank you all for your prayers and support. We love and appreciate you and we will miss you! God Bless.


Saying goodbye....or as they say in Liberia "bye for now!"

Two weeks ago we joined with our church family (Heritage Baptist Church in Avondale, AZ) for Sunday service which was the last time before we leave. They were such a blessing and encouragement! Pastor Jason commissioned Greg and prayed over him. We were still short on the funds needed for our travel expense and Heritage pulled together with everyone from the mom's and dad's to the little ones putting in their change and they blessed us with the full amount we needed.....and 70 cents to spare! God is amazing, isn't he?

Greg had the opportunity to bring the message and share his heart for ministry in Liberia. This picture is our "row". This was baby Matty's first time at Heritage.

They also took some time to pray over our family. Awesome!

After the service we all enjoyed a festive "Liberian style" meal! Everyone participated and brought Liberian dishes. Thank you so much everyone for taking the time to do this, especially to Patty who so graciously provided us all with links to Liberian recipes and for organizing it all!

The tables were beautifully decorated!

Everyone enjoyed a variety of Liberian food.
This is one of our display pieces that we put up when we present at churches.

The kids all had fun playing after the meal. What a brother! (This is Jacob and Liberty)

Just before we left we were able to get a quick family picture. Thanks everyone! We will miss you all very much.


Nearing the end.....

We have had the privilege of worshipping with a church locally here in Phoenix whose congregation is primarily Liberian (AFE- Africa Faith Expressions). We have greatly enjoyed our time with them and have been very blessed by the experience our children have had here in preparation for moving to Liberia. For those of you who do not yet know, we will be leaving for Liberia on August 16th! We are very close! This was our final Sunday service as a family here in the states for a very long time.
This is our family pictured with Pastor James Nyemah. He and his wife Lucy have become dear friends and we will miss them.


Buchanan Central Prison

This last week we were privileged to visit the Buchanan Central Prison in Grand Bassa County. This was the first opportunity we have had to minister in this prison. The visit was very successful and we are looking forward with great anticipation to what God has in store for ministry here. God is opening doors and we ask that you would pray with us as we walk through them!

The guys were warmly received and we have been asked to begin regular visits there. They have also requested to have Spirit Liberia sponsor some agricultural work to provide food for the prison. See below the prison report submitted by Brother Bestman.


Greetings Boss,

With God been our source of strength, vigorous prison ministry has begin this week. The long awaited Buchanan Central Prison Ministry was held successfully. Buchanan is the capital city of Grand Bassa County. It is about four hours drive from Monrovia and it is predominately inhabited by the Bassa Tribe which Mark Koffa and Pst. Richards belong to. After a four hours bad road drive, we arrived at this prison of seven small rooms with 84 inmates including two females. According to the prison authorities chart, crimes committed by these inmates include Murder, Man slaughter, rape, arm robbery, theft of property, drugs etc. Upon arrival we were warmly received by a Nigerian Major of the United Nation Military Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) and other prison authorities. The UN personnel commended the prison ministry team for coming to share what he called "the life of eternity for heaven". He continues by saying, the Christian community of Liberia especially the prison fellowship of Liberia has forgotten this prison. What the inmates need most in this post war Liberia is the Gospel of Jesus Christ which has the power to set people free from the bondage of sin. He appeals to Spirit Liberia Prison Ministry to consistently visit and preach Christ in the life of the inmates at Buchanan Central Prison and other prisons in Liberia. He also appeals for agriculture tools to enable Buchanan prison be self sufficient in terms of food. The message is that Christ Jesus paid for our sin Rom 5:8-10 was preached to the inmates and correction officers. 50 copies of NT was given out and 93 copies of Spirit Liberia gospel tracts were also distributed. Also food items were given out. It is our prayer that God will provide resources for constant ministry at this prison and other prison as well.
Have a godly week with the family,

Bro. Bestman Todawiah
Ministry Coordinator

Some of the "bad road" that was traveled!

Pastor Richards handing out Farina inside the prison.Shad giving New Testaments to the inmates.Shad giving Farina also.Brother Bestman giving New Testaments and tracts in the prison yard.Prayer inside the prison.Pastor Richards teaching and giving out gospel tracts.

Thank you so much for your prayer and support of Spirit Liberia. Please remember these prisoners as well and pray that God would cut to the heart with His Word, and that lives would be saved!



This bridge is located on the main road from Monrovia to Buchanan (between Margibi County and Grand Bassa County). We were able to minster at the Buchanan Central Prison for the first time this last week. I will post on that soon, but I thought this bridge was pretty amazing. Do you see the beauty in it? It think this is just amazing and beautiful in such a simple and primitive way. Remember, this is the main road between two major cities and this bridge is too narrow for 2 vehicles to cross, and also notice the holes in the floor!