Thankful for Our Ministries with Liberia

Jim Szakacs and LEDI Award Recipients

Thankful for Our Ministries with Liberia

By Jim Szakacs*

The work of The Nehemiah Mission of Cleveland was recognized October 21 during the annual Liberia Economic Development Initiative (LEDI) banquet. I was honored to be one of four Cleveland-area executives to receive the 2016 International Life-Changers Award for our contributions to the re-development of Liberia in West Africa.


I accepted the award on behalf of Nehemiah Mission, the North Coast District, and the East Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church for our combined efforts to restore Liberia, and to provide aid for Cleveland-area Liberian refugees. Since the launch of our Ganta Initiative in 2015, The Nehemiah Mission of Cleveland has raised more than $40,000 for various projects including improvements at the Ganta United Methodist Mission Hospital, and scholarships for children at the Ganta United Methodist School.

The East Ohio conference was well-represented at the banquet, and in my speech I praised the substantial work done by our conference 3Cs, and by Nehemiah Mission staff, who have astounding hearts for the people of Liberia. The staff at our Cleveland office is directly involved with mentoring and tutoring the children of Liberian refugees, who were brought to the city during the 14-year civil war in Liberia.

Improving the education of its citizens is crucial to the re-development of Liberia, LEDI President and Co-Founder Rufus N. Darkortey stated in his address during the banquet, which this year raised funds to build libraries in Liberia because there are currently very few in the entire country.

The others who received awards during the banquet at the Club at Key Center on Public Square were Jeffrey K. Patterson, CEO of the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority, Gerri M. Presti, executive vice president and general counsel for Forest City Realty Trust, and Dr. Yvonne Pointer, writer/speaker, activist and philanthropist.   We each also received proclamations from Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, Ohio Governor John Kasich, and Ohio Congresswoman Marcia Fudge.

*Jim Szakacs is executive director of The Nehemiah Mission of Cleveland.