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Happy New Year, Liberia: But where is your vow?

By Moses Blonkanjay Jackson  Happy New Year 2014

As we bid the old year 2013 goodbye and rolled into 2014, fireworks rumbled all over the city
 in such a way that 2013 was been chased away. As I watched some of my kinsmen wave the old
 year away with seeming vehemence, I felt some ungratefulness.
 After all, wasn't it the old year 2013 that bore us securely through the vicissitudes of life
 and promptly delivered us into the arms of the New Year?

Howbeit, I was grateful to the creator that 2014 received me in the right state of mind, and 
moreover, in the House of the Lord. 

But as I reminisced, I considered how upon the ushering in of each New Year vows are made; and
 no sooner had February rolled in than the vows been abandoned. My retrospection took me back to 
2012 when a New Year sermon left an indelible mark on my heart. The preacher, instead of asking his 
congregation what their New Year's vows would be, he somersaulted into asking them, “Where is your
 old vow? The one you made to God last year?” 

The preacher lamented that many were again about to desecrate their lives by making promises and vows 
to God Almighty, that they could not keep. As this New Year rolled in“, he pouted, “some of you are 
going to lose your lives, receive banes instead of blessings, disappointment instead of appointment, 
sickness instead of wellness, and death instead of life, why?" he continued, “because you do not know 
the difference between the penalty or gravity for breaking a promise from breaking a vow. You will 
again in this 2014, suffer out of sheer ignorance”

Difference between a promise and a vow
A promise on the one hand is a one-way acquiesce that an individual prooffers in his heart to keep
 or take an action. It is based on generosity or a resolve that one makes to give somebody something,
 or to behave a certain way towards a construct or another person.
For example, if an individual was expecting his salary and promised to help a certain person and it
 was not possible, the other person cannot penalize that person; for it was not his or her fault.
 The money did not come trough because the person just re-prioritized because it was 
simply a oneway gesture.

A vow on the other hand is a covenant or a sacred divine agreement between or among parties, 
which if broken by any of the parties, has a consequence. For example, members of fraternities, 
and world leaders all take vows that if they break have consequences. When presidents, elected 
and appointed officials are sworn into office they are making vows.

Now God in his divine majesty considers vows to be sacred, and holds them with equal value from
all and sundry whether it is a president, a faternity member, an elected official, or a common
 In straight talk”, the preacher asserted: “if one breaks a vow he will bear the consequences.
 Instead of a blessing the individual will receive a bane or bad luck, which is the opposite of 

Bane for breaking a vow: Death of Ananias and Sapphira 
The preacher again transitioned to Acts Chapter 5. He narrated how a man nnamed Ananias and his wife
 Sapphira after vowing to God through Apostle Peter that they would sell their land and bring the
 whole money, chose to bring only a portion.

The Apostle simply asked two questions” Is this all the money?” they answered, “Yes”. “When the land
 was yours did anybody force you to vow to God you were going to sell it and bring the whole money?”
 The answer was "Yes." 
Peter simply condemned them that they had not lied to him but to God by breaking their vows and the 
penalty was death. They fell instantly one after the other as they came before the Apostle and died,
 sending a clear warning that nobody, whosoever, should “mess” with God by making a vow and breaking 

Blessing for keeping a vow: Success of the Great Warrior Jephthah In Judges 11, Jephthaha great 
warrior of God when faced with a challenging foe, vowed to God that if he were victorious in battle, 
he would give to God whoever came through the doors of his house upon his return.

To his disbelief when he finally won the battle and returned, the first person who came out of his house
 singing and dancing to welcome him was his only daughter who he loved so much and had done everything 
to ensure her happiness. 

The Great warrior, with a very heavy heart and broken spirit craved inside that “If only his beloved
 daughter had just waited a few minutes for somebody else to come outside." 
Now because Jephthah knew the gravity of breaking his vow, he sacrificed his only daughter
 to Jehovah God; and guess what, Jepththah, became one of the most successful leaders of Israel.

Where is Liberia’s vow?
The preacher averred that our nation Liberia has made many vows that have been broken overtime. 
“Do you remember the 14 year nasty civil war? While the carnage of the war, which are consequences 
of breaking our vows still linger, we continue to increase our bad luck by the minute”, he asserted.

A country, in literary sense is not an individual who can make and break a vow but its citizens can.
 When the settlers arrived in 1822, they vowed to uphold Christianity and to ensure all men were treated
 equal. We all saw what Samuel Kanyon Doe did to the Americo-Liberian hegemony when they 
broke that vow.
Do you remember also how Samuel Doe vowed to eradicate rampant corruption, and give every man
 his just share? Do you remember how Charles Taylor got after him when he began to prefer his Krahn
people for bigger positions over other Liberians until he walked into Prince
 Johnson’s net without much coercion?  Do you remember Charles Taylor who brought “Freedom Fighters” 
who instead of freeing the people fought them and kept them under similar situations that justified
 his coming? That was the past; but today do you see the same events unfolding?  
If you consider how all of these stories ended you will understand that od does not joke with vows. 
“Where is your vow?” the Preacher, who was by then sweating
 profusely, screamed.

Broken vows: Elected Officials
Having dealt with Liberia, the preacher turned his attention on the house of legislators. 
Representatives and senators usually make vows to God and to the peoples who are supposed to vote
 for them, that when they are elected, they will do certain things. While some submit themselves to
 the altars of Satan, and others submit to altars of Jehovah God, and they all make vows. 

When legislators because of political attachments refuse to see eye to eye and move their counties; 
when legislators refuse to visit their constituents to give them accounts of the wherewithal allotted
 to them; when legislators increase their own emoluments leaving poor teachers subjected to protest
 after protest to receive their peanuts; when elected, appointed officials refuse to increase the 
education bdget to improve the education of the children of Liberia; Do you see broken vows scattered
 all over te place?  I do.

Broken vows: Appointed Officials
When cabinet ministers are appointed and sworn in, they take oaths and vows. These vows are sometimes
 in the forms of the Terms of Reference of their portfolios which they “solemnly swear to uphold. If
 we look around today and hear the allegations from the oppositions about nepotism, ineptitude, 
corruption and gross disregard of the nation’s interest over personal interests; doesn't it seem like
 the Liberian nation is breaking its vow? The preacher boldly began to shout into the crowd, “What
 happened to the Total Involvement policy and Self Reliance? What happened to the Poverty Reduction 
Strategy and Vision 2030?”  You could hear a pin drop as sitting in that the church suddenly became 
scary like donning a full police regalia and calling for a street protest or a strike; “Lord have
mercy!” I said to myself as I sat waiting anxiously for the end of that 
divine but audacious sermon. 

Broken vows; Political Parties Platforms
All over the world in countries and other institutions, during elections period, political parties 
usually present to platforms which are supposed to be the yardstick with which they are to be held 
accountable; by so doing, they hence vow and enter a covenant to take actions to meet the 
aspirations of the electorates by the promulgation of their vows, their platforms.

Unfortunately, no sooner had these political parties won the elections than they begun to forget their
 platforms and make “about face.” Some political parties will vow to eradicate poverty but instead still 
have the people wail and live in abject poverty while they consume the wealth of the nation lavishly. 

Some will vow to restore infrastructure but instead continue to keep the people who elected them in 
devastated states. Some will promise concrete reforms towards quality education and governance, but 
instead will compromise the wherewithal to make education quality and governance askew. Some will vow
 to create equal job opportunities, but instead will award jobs according to inner circles and contacts.
 Some political parties will vow to fear God, but instead will totally disregard the fear of 
Almighty God who created all men equal.
“When these things come to pass and do not stop, surely” the preacher continued, “won’t bad luck will 
flow throughout the land?”

The Charge: Evaluate the Unity Party-led government
In conclusion, the preacher this time in a very soft tone as if not to be political, charged his 
congregation to critically evaluate the Unity Party-led government and determine if it is living up to
 the oath it took. “Assess the legislators to ascertain if they are have kept the vows they 
took or if they have broken it and bad luck-death, sickness, disappointment- is awaiting them”,
 he shouted. 

“To you members of my congregation, I charge you to check yourselves. Take the mole from your 
eyes before you look around. Before you make another vow, ask yourselves. Where is my old vow, 
and fix that vow before you make another one”

He concluded, “Let me declare to all Christians, Liberians, Government Officials, legislators, we all
 have a charge, a vow to keep, and a God to glorify; we have ever dying (poor and suffering) souls to
 save and set to the sky. This is the rest of the population that is not privileged to live the good 
lives we live. But before you consider those people, ask yourselves, where is the vow 
you made last year? Your old vow?”  

I walked out of the church thinking it was a bitter but well delivered New Year sermon. 

Mwalimu-Koh Moses Blonkanjay Jackson hails from RiverCess County, and is 
former senator of the Harvard Graduate School of Education Student 
Government. He is a YALE and UPENN Fellow Curriculum Fellow. 
Mr. Jackson can be reached at 0886 681 315/001 267 206 8695 or,

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