How do you eat an elephant?
As the saying goes . . . one bite at a time.
But who actually eats elephants? Liberians, for one.
Our houseguest, Liberian Eric Wowoh, sat at our supper table two nights ago and told us how, when he was a young boy, he and those in his village captured elephants that came close to their homes. They dug several holes as big as a house and covered them up with brush, dirt, etc. Everyone in the village knew where the traps were. When a lost elephant approached the village they ran toward one of the holes; the elephant followed and fell in. Once the elephant was trapped, the villagers killed it with bows and arrows.
“What did you do with the elephant?” one of my children asked.
“We ate it,” was Eric’s reply. But, unlike Americans, everyone in the village and the surrounding area shared the elephant. It was cut up, smoked, dried, preserved, and stored to eat for the next year. Because of the scarcity of food, working together and sharing is an important aspect of Liberian life.
What you may find hard to believe is that Eric is in his early 30’s and was helping kill elephants, along with snakes, squirrels, and any other edible animal, only decades ago. In 1989, when he was twelve years old, at the beginning of the Liberian Civil War, his mother sent him on a two-day walk to fish for his family. After fishing for a few days, he and his friends arrived home to find his village had been taken. He was captured, tied up, and beaten.
Eric’s story is fascinating but much too long for me to elaborate. The condensed version is: He spent fourteen years in refugee camps where he became a Christian. In 2006, he was brought to the United States. The intent was for Eric to adapt to our ways and spend the rest of his life here. However, God had other plans, and Eric could not abandon his fellow Liberians.
The Civil War ended in 2003, but Liberia still has a high unemployment and illiteracy rate. There is no running water or electricity anywhere. As a matter of fact, most families do not have clean water to drink. The country has been destroyed and is destitute.
God is using Eric to change this situation and offer Liberians hope. This may seem like eating an elephant. But Eric helps to build his community “one bite at a time”, or in some cases, one cinder block at a time.
In 2008, Eric Wowoh started Change Agent Network, a non-profit organization that connects those in the states with those in Liberia. Through this ministry, Eric has built nine schools in Liberia and shipped at least five containers worth of items to be used by the Liberians. He calls this latter part of his ministry “Yesterday’s Trash, Tomorrow’s Hope.”
How is he accomplishing these insurmountable tasks? By following God’s lead, Eric is a bridge between the needy and those who have a heart for the lost and hurting and are able to provide. In this way, God’s people are coming together to spread God’s love and make a difference one person at a time just as Eric’s village came together to capture and eat an elephant one bite at a time.
For specifics on Eric’s ministry, visit Change Agent Network’s website here.
Eric’s story should spur us to see global problems, face them, and accept the challenge to help. As a community of believers, we can make a difference.