Liberian Civil War Survivor Graduates from MTS–Michigan
Submitted: June 2010
By God’s grace, Joe Kolliesuah survived the 1989-2003 Liberian civil war. He came to Moody Theological Seminary–Michigan in 2006, and graduated in May with a Master of Divinity degree. He plans to return to Liberia with his wife, Zinnah, to serve in pastoral ministry and equip pastors with the theological training he has received at MTS–Michigan.
Joe grew up in the 1950s on the Firestone Rubber Plantation near Monrovia, Liberia, where his father worked as a laborer. When Joe accepted Christ as a student at the University of Liberia in 1989, he began to understand that “God has called us, and we are here for one reason: to serve Him. From that point on, I began to experience the love of Christ and to share my faith on campus.”
But only a couple weeks later, civil war broke out. “Things were very tough and many Liberians were killed, including many of my friends,” Joe says. “Even on campus, the rebel groups would attack, and we would run for our lives.” On several occasions, rebel fighters threatened Joe at gunpoint, and he once had a gun barrel pressed against his head. “But God’s grace and protection were upon me. Each time, I was released, and I am here today.”
Despite intense fighting and limited resources, Joe took courses and led student discipleship groups off and on for many years. After he graduated in 1999, he served as a traveling evangelist at Liberian universities. He and his wife moved to the U.S. and settled in the Detroit area in 2004. Joe’s previous ministry experiences led him to seek more training, and he soon began coursework at MTS–Michigan.
“MTS has been very good to me and has prepared me for ministry,” Joe says. “I am confident that I have a better understanding of the Word of God than ever before. MTS gave me theological training and taught me to properly interpret the Bible. But MTS also taught me how to grow toward God, not just in head knowledge but in my heart as well. I was taught to love people.”
Joe is deeply grateful for the MTS–Michigan professors: “The professors here are some of the finest in this country. They are intelligent, they have hearts for the Word of God, they are loving people, their doctrine is sound, and their teaching is based on the Word of God.”
“At many points in my seminary education, the coursework—especially the Greek and Hebrew—was really tough,” he says. “If it had not been for the support of the professors and staff members, along with my wife, I could not have completed my studies. This school has become precious to me. I love it. I would tell anyone considering seminary, that MTS would be the best place to come.”
When Joe and his wife return to Liberia later this year, he will take the lessons he has learned at MTS–Michigan and apply them in his ministry by training other pastors. “I can use what I have learned here to be used by the Lord in Liberia,” he says. “There are many churches in Liberia where the Word of God is not taught accurately. Some pastors are trained, but some are not, especially in the rural areas. Not that I have an answer for everything, but I want to find out how I can help in an area that is lacking, however I can serve.”