While preparing to leave Liberia, we made a short detour to stop at the Ocean11 resort. This property was originally given to Baptist Mid-Missions by the president of Liberia. An American missionary, Clark “Jake” Jacobson was a former Vietnam veteran and remained in Liberia when the other missionaries had evacuated because of the Liberian civil war. Jake was killed by members of the Liberian army when he refused to give them access to the facility. He died protecting the Liberian people there, including Pastor James Togba, who was our key contact while I was in the country. The Liberians in the BMM compound fled to the nearby Israeli embassy, where they were protected.
Today, the facility is owned by the Liberian churches. As you can see, it is a prime beachfront property. They have rented it out on a 99 year lease to Lebanese owned business Oceans11, who have constructed a small resort with a first class restaurant, pool and recreation facilities. The Liberians use the proceeds to fund the Jake Memorial Baptist College, named in honor of the man who gave his life for Christ and Liberia.
I don’t remember hearing about this story. As a Regular Baptist, reflections on our history often focus on what happened here in the US. It is good to remember the missionary heritage that is also part of our legacy… the sacrifices made, and lives given. We must consider the models like Jake’s we have in our past as we look to our future. Gospel ministry in’t always “safe”–but it is important to remember that when we serve we are in the hands of God. May the Lord give us people willing to suffer for the cause of Jesus Christ, who enables us to do all things in His strength (Phil. 4:13).