Joy and Sadness

Four Houses Community, Buchanan, Grand Bassa County , Liberia

Life is a constant mix of emotions as we experience the good and the bad, the ups and downs, triumphs and tragedies. Such is the joy of new birth and new relationships and the sadness of death and separation. Whether in the life of a person or the life of a body of saints, it can feel the same. The Buchanan Restoration Branch was born in 2005 with the baptism of eight new Liberian saints and the ordination of three of them. The branch has moved from temporary home to temporary home in the years since, while growing to a body of believers that numbers more than 100. Life is very difficult in Liberia as the unemployment rate seems to forever hover in excess of 70, and sometimes 80%. The vast majority of the population lives at or below the economic status of poverty. But the saints of the Buchanan Restoration Branch have persevered through good times and bad and are now preparing to celebrate a new milestone. With the help of the East Gate Restoration Branch, in Centerview, Missouri, and the Conference of Branches’ Houses of Worship Fund, the saints in Buchanan were able to purchase one and a half lots in the Four Houses Community in the city of Buchanan and with the hard labor of the Buchanan saints, they have begun building their new church home.

Every bit of construction has to be done by hand, including digging the trenches for the footing and foundation, and in sweltering heat!
  • The concrete for the footing, all of the needed concrete blocks, the concrete pillars and the mortar for all of those concrete blocks must be mixed by hand!
  • The saints manufactured hundreds of concrete blocks, one block at a time, to build the walls of the church!

With the footing poured it is time to lay a few rows of concrete blocks and then pour the concrete pillars that will support the walls and the roof.

Most of the pillars are poured and it will soon be time to lay more concrete blocks for the walls. Again, every bit of this construction has been done by hand, no power tools or machinery of any kind!
Mixing more concrete!
Better view of progress being made.

The first Restoration Branch planted in Liberia, the Buchanan Branch has always been considered the “Mother Branch” of the fast growing Church of Jesus Christ, Liberia Restoration Branches. So there is great joy and optimism for the saints in the Buchanan Branch while the saints in the other Liberia branches also celebrate the accomplishment of their “Mother Branch”.

But as they labor and celebrate the birth of their new and permanent church home, they find themselves mourning the loss of their Presiding Elder, J. Augustus Artis. Bro. Artis passed away on January 16, 2021.

Bro. Artis, with the children of the Teah Town Restoration Branch in Teah Town, Sinoe County, Liberia, on one of his many missionary trips to spread the Restored Gospel in Liberia.

Bro. Artis came to the Restoration in 2008, baptized by Elder Wilfred Myer, Presiding Elder of the Buchanan Branch and confirmed by Elders Doug Patterson and Hensley Mbanaso. In 2010 Bro. Artis was ordained to the office of Deacon and in 2014 he was ordained to the office of Elder by Seventy Chris Pedersen and Seventy Hensley Mbanaso. A few months later, he was chosen by the branch to serve as their Presiding Elder where he served until his passing.  Bro. Artis, along with Elder Samuel Cooper Jimmy, Teacher Milton Zeon and Deacon Solomon Garpue, have labored diligently to strengthen and grow the Buchanan Branch, while also serving the saints and branches throughout Liberia, and converting many more to the Restored Gospel. Bro. Artis and his missionary companion, Teacher Milton Zeon, often traveled to branches in Sinoe County and River Cess County to assist the local priesthood in strengthening the saints and growing those branches.

This is the “road” that must be endured when traveling between Buchanan in Grand Bassa County and the branches in Sinoe County. This 240 km stretch is the Buchanan Greenville Highway.
As a passenger, you are expected to climb down off your perch atop that mountain of cargo and push your “taxi” through one mud hole after another if you want to arrive at your destination. And no, that does not reduce your fare.

It is hard to conceive just how difficult it is to travel in Liberia, but that arduous challenge did not stop Bro. Artis from repeatedly making those difficult trips. 

Bro. Artis baptizing a new and joyful saint!
Bro. Milton, left and Bro. Artis, right, teaching the gospel to saints in Zoewulum, River Cess County, Liberia
Bro. Artis giving the gift of the Holy Spirit to a newly baptized saint in Teah Town, Sinoe County, Liberia.

Bro. Artis also played a major leadership role in organizing the Bamozogar District which covers four counties in Liberia. The Bamozogar District is about to reach a new milestone in organization and celebration during their District Conference scheduled for the first week of February in Zoewulum, River Cess County, Liberia. Bro Artis’s presence and ministry will be sorely missed at the Conference. The Zoewulum Restoration Branch is hosting the District Conference in their new church home. 

Bro. Artis was born November 22, 1952. He is survived by his wife, Wleejay and two sons, Desmond and Sam. Please keep Bro. Artis’s family and his church family in your prayers.  

Bro. Artis never missed an opportunity to share the gospel to both young and old! He loved the Lord’s work and the Lord’s children.