Reyna with the kids in Fiamah, Monrovia, Liberia

Monday, January 31, 2011

Gloriously Ruined and Seriously Disturbed

Hello, my name is Ruth Rivera and I am gloriously ruined and seriously disturbed. It is a great feeling. You should try it sometime. Let me explain.
Over the past year, I have taken two trips to Liberia, West Africa. If you are not familiar with Liberia, it is currently the 3rd poorest country in the world with most of its citizens living on a dollar a day. The country is rebuilding a stable society after fourteen years of civil war ripped the fabric of that country to pieces. For me, my visits to this beautiful land have put flesh to all my ideas of justice and empowering the poor. All of these things were nice ideals for me before, now I see they are my life's work and the calling of anyone who claims to be a follower of Christ.
For several weeks after coming back from Liberia, I struggled to resume normal life in American society. I felt guilty, I felt angry, I felt many things. But then I came across a statement by Kay Warren, wife of pastor Rick Warren and an advocate for AIDS patients across the globe, that described exactly how I felt: gloriously ruined and seriously disturbed. Yep, that's me. I realize that I do not want to go back to my oblivious comfort zone of Starbucks and jewelry parties. I want the faces and stories of my brothers and sisters in Liberia ever before me because they remind me that this world is so much bigger than me and so much bigger than America. And so I move on, feeling out of place more than I used to, feeling misunderstood alot, but that is OK with me, because I have seen things and met people whose stories I cannot forget. I don't want to forget. I want to share them with the world so that others might break out of their comfort zones and seek to be the hands and feet of Jesus to the poor.
As most of my friends know, I am establishing a non-profit organization here in the States called the Doors of Hope Educational Foundation that will partner with two groups in Liberia to sponsor the education of youth and former child soldiers. This vision was birthed out of my conversations with former child soldiers who told me that they are cast out by society and the help of these giant aid organizations rarely reaches them or provides education for them or their children.I have established great relationships with a pastor who runs a school there and with Joshua Blayhi who works tirelessly to rehabilitate former child soldiers and create new opportunities for them. I was privileged to meet these men and knew that I would do whatever possible to support their efforts and partner with them. And so I press on.
Here comes the disturbing and uncomfortable part for my readers. All of this work requires money, money which is not readily available when you live in a country with 85% unemployment and make less than a dollar a day to feed your family of five. My brothers and sisters there are doing everything in their power to lift themselves and their people up from the ashes of poverty and the ravages of war, but we here in America can support them so much by giving of our abundant resources. You might be laughing right now and think, HA! I do not have abundant resources. I know that these are trying financial times in America. They are for my family as well. But I am going to share an inconvenient truth with you. No matter how little you have, I seriously doubt that any of you live on $30 a month. No matter how little you have, you are greatly blessed with resources that are not even available to our brothers and sisters in Liberia or in much of the majority world. We are truly a privileged people. My friend in Liberia lives in a two room house that she shares with her brother and sister. That house sits in a row of apartments with one community bathroom at the end and one communal kitchen in the back. My friend goes to the market in town most days and sells secondhand clothes and shoes to supplement her brother's $20 a month salary as a pastor of a small congregation. I have no idea how they pay their monthly rent of $45 each month, but I do know that they only eat twice, sometimes only once, a day. Yet every time I call her, she says she is doing fine and she blesses God. Her gratefulness, joy, and faith truly convict me. How dare I complain about minor inconveniences in my life like they don't serve my favorite type of scone at Starbucks anymore or Facebook changed their format once again. Seriously people????
So I have been seeking to raise $10,000 before another planned trip back to Liberia in March to get this foundation off the ground and to help Cornerstone Academy in Liberia. I have boxes and boxes of textbooks and school supplies waiting to be shipped to Cornerstone. I am wanting to complete the incorporation process and sign all the papers in Liberia that will make us an official NGO there. I know 55 precious children who desperately need to complete their education to provide better opportunities for themselves and their families. I know 12 young men who are living at a compound on the edge of town where they are undergoing job training and psychosocial counseling. They all have dreams of finishing school so they will be respected and have better opportunities. $10,000 may seem like a large goal, and with 6 weeks left, I am far from reaching it. But I am very optimistic about it. I know that people will catch hold of this vision and do what they can to support it. To reach our goal, we still need $6,000. If 60 people would give $100, that goal would be met. If 100 people would give $60, that goal would be met. If 300 people would give $20, that goal would be met. I really believe in the power of doing small things with great love. I really believe that many people giving what they can can create the means to effect huge changes in a school in Liberia which will then affect the community and society as a whole. Please take a moment to consider how you can support your brothers and sisters in Liberia. You can donate through paypal to or you can send it to my address which is 2026 N. Mozart Street, Chicago, IL 60647. Just mark that this donation is for Doors of Hope.
I truly appreciate all the support that has already been shown for this effort. This has been and will continue to be an interesting journey. Some people have questioned me or my methods, and that is fine with me. Some people have astonished me with their apathy towards their brothers and sisters around the globe. I don't say that to shame anyone, I just have been truly puzzled by it. I know that what I am doing is for the Kingdom and is fulfilling Christ's call to do justly and to love mercy. It is hard to transmit the plight of someone in a foreign country and make it real to people here who might not be aware, but I trust that God will move in people's hearts where I can not. And so I press on. I am seriously disturbed and gloriously ruined. It is a great feeling. You should try it sometime. 


  1. You are doing a wonderful work, Ruth. Praying for you. Holly from WV

  2. Love this Ruth and echo your beautifully put sentiments! Can't wait for you to get there and get your projects rolling!

  3. When I'm done unpacking, Joss and I will have some change ready for you, Ruthie.

    Thanks for opening up your story to include others' stories. I will now share your story. ;)

  4. Thank you for sharing this Ruth! Can't wait to see you and for you to share this at ISU!