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Guest Interviews

Rev. Hananiah Zoe

Edited By NA

2060 07/26/09

Rev. Hananiah Zoe (RHZ) was born in Liberia and today he serves as the President of the "Ministry of Hope" there in Liberia. From 1989 to 1996, Liberia experienced a terrible Civil War that has left 240,000 orphans. The Ministry of Hope aims to provide hope for these hungry orphans while teaching them to lead successful, new lives. The Ministry of Hope also offers Christian education to children of all faith backgrounds from kindergarten through 12th grade. Rev. Zoe uses the positive approach to teaching, inspired by the Crystal Cathedral Ministries. Today, Rev. Zoe is interviewed by Sheila Schuller Coleman (SSC).

SSC: Well today I am very, very honored to interview a wonderful friend of the ministry all the way from Liberia. His name is Reverend Hananiah Zoe. He is president of the Ministry of Hope and I want the world to know what God is doing through this man. So Hananiah, will you join me please? God bless you, my brother. I love what you're wearing. Is it hot?

RHZ: I'm used to it. It's our traditional cultural formal outfit.

SSC: It's just beautiful, absolutely beautiful as is your smile. God just shines through you and so does Jesus.

RHZ: Thank you.

SSC: So you're from Liberia. Can you tell me a little bit of the history of Liberia?

RHZ: Liberia means "land of the free" and it all started in 1816 on December 18 at the Davis Hotel in Washington D.C. when Francis Scott Key, Henry Clay, Bushrod Washington, (who was a nephew of President George Washington), James Monroe and Andrew Jackson got together. These men all came together to brainstorm about what needed to be done to help give birth to a freed and independent country in the ocean of colonies in Africa so that the freed slaves or negroes from America could go back to a home that was free. So that's the brief history of how Liberia was birthed.

SSC: And they speak English in Liberia, right?

RHZ: Yes, Liberia is an English speaking country even though there are sixteen different tribal groups but English is the lingua franca - the national language.

SSC: Really? That's amazing. Now there's a back story to your story, which we will get to in a minute. Your father-in-law, your spiritual father was Gus Marway. He also happened to be a friend my father's. Can you tell us about Gus?

RHZ: Bishop Augustus Marway was born in the rainforest of Liberia. It happened when his mother went out during the famine season to look for a root we call cassava. While she was out, that's when the birth pain was triggered; she was all by herself and my father-in-law was born right there in the bush on the leaves.

He grew up through some very interesting teenage years. When he became naughty in the village, the elders would gather and grab him and give him real firm discipline which was putting hot West African pepper in his nose and eyes to discipline him. And many times Gus would run with the pain in the bush and cried out to the super God, whom our ancestors once knew but with whom we no longer had connection at the time. There were no churches, no one knew about Jesus. But he'd run out in the bush and call out to God and say "please change me." He wanted to be changed and it took the power of the gospel while missionaries from America visited the area so that's how Gus learned about the gospel.

SSC: So even though Gus didn't know God, God knew Gus.

RHZ: Yes.

SSC: And He went and He found him and took him by the shoulders and said you are My son.

RHZ: Yes.

SSC: And then what happened? Because Gus didn't stop there as a Christian, he went on and developed this amazing ministry, did he not?

RHZ: Yes, when he met the Lord as a young teenager at approximately 17-18 years old, that was the first time that he ever wore clothes. The first clothes he wore was a dress that was given to him when he got out of the village. But he enrolled immediately as a young man into kindergarten, got trained, graduated from high school and got on a boat, came to America and went to UC Berkeley where he left an amazing record of academic accomplishment. UC Berkeley refers to him as one of the all time scholars. And then he went to seminary and then back to Liberia.

And eventually the impact of the teaching's of Dr. Robert Schuller and possibility thinking, he took those teaching's to Liberia, which was in the ocean of what seemed to be impossibilities and dark tunnels, the possibility teachings from here that impacted Gus became like the light in the tunnel for Liberia.

And God used it powerfully to transform many in Liberia and the surrounding nations, and over a hundred and sixty-five churches were planted in several regions that once did not have the gospel.

SSC: Wow. That's just an amazing story and it warms my heart to know that my father's ministry had an impact all the way in Liberia and it's just..

RHZ: It still does!

SSC: It still is. And I really want to encourage and thank our donors because many of them have given their gifts. And it's been hard for them to give gifts especially in today's day and age but they've given, some of them a widow's mite but God has taken that and multiplied that. Not only has He used it here in the Cathedral and throughout the Hour of Power in America but all the way to all these churches, 175 churches and the whole ministry of hope in Liberia.

So I want to say thank you to our donors. Thank you very, very much. It's an amazing, amazing thing that God is doing through that. But then tell us how you got involved in this whole ministry.

RHZ: Well Bishop Marway, the late Bishop Gus Marway's first daughter, we got married. She asked me to teach her how to play guitar and eventually guitar lessons changed and became dating lessons. And the Lord brought us together and we got married with one focus and one vision within the Ministry of Hope. And actually, the Ministry of Hope was birthed out of the vision from here, Dr. Schuller. The hope in Liberia is an acronym for the Hour of Power eternal. So the ministry from here continues.

SSC: Now you were also chosen by Gus to take over the leadership of his ministry?

RHZ: Yes, it was a very humbling experience. It was in March of 2005 when he invited my wife and me, (his first daughter); in his bedroom and said kneel down. And we knelt down and he laid hands on Betty and me and he prayed. He said, "I transfer it on to you, the mantle of ministry that the Lord has given me." And about twenty-four months after that he went to be with the Lord.

So I'm very humbled and yet filled with thankfulness and excitement at even being here at the Crystal Cathedral. It refreshes and rejuvenates our vision.

SSC: Thank you, Hananiah.

RHZ: Thank you.

SSC: I feel a real kinship with you. A kinship because..

RHZ: Thank you, thank you.

SSC: ..both of us have had to step into the footprints of some giants, some spiritual giants haven't we? Right?

RHZ: Right.

SSC: And yet God is good and it is humbling and exciting and I just completely support you, my brother, in what you are doing. You went through a really difficult time, your country with a civil war. Can you tell us when and what all happened there?

RHZ: Yes between 1989 and 2003 Liberia was engulfed in a terrible civil war, which took the lives of over two hundred and fifty thousand people. The Islamic element of the civil war, the rebel group really took advantage to execute pastors and key leaders, Christian leaders. Many pastors were executed in a very gruesome manner. We lost many pastors. My brother was also executed, my biological brother that I'm next to, he was executed. As a result we have over two hundred and forty thousand orphans. But during this civil war we were praying instead of; at some point I was bitter but then the word of God, when Paul said in II Corinthians 5:13-17 "the love of God compels us." So we were compelled by the love of God to pray for even those who were persecuting us.

And a notable thing that God did was a leading Islamic militant general, General Muhammad Fufana went into the minaret, the highest part of the mosque during Ramadan to pray and as he went (SPEAKING ISLAMIC) which is "God is great," calling for prayers with thousands of worshippers pouring in. The General became mute and could not speak. It appeared as though his jaws were completely locked. He could not talk and the leaders led him down in the sanctuary of the mosque and asked him what's happening to you general? After a while of being in that state of shock he opened his mouth, and the first words he said was "Jesus is God, Jesus is the Son of God"

SSC: Wow! Praise to God.

RHZ: Yes, yes, what had happened to him was that he said in his own words that the Lord Jesus appeared right there before him in the mosque and said "I am the one that you are persecuting." And General Muhammad was very notorious for executing pastors and even as they were praying before the final bullets he would tell them "Go and tell Jesus, I General Muhammad kill you. He is not God." How awesome our God is and I was privileged after some time to work with him and disciple him.

And during one night when he was sharing his testimony just before I was to preach in an open air meeting in the town of Ganta, he said "in the next town," which is one of the key cities in Liberia Sannaquellie, he said "I killed many people" in so and so month, I think it was April. Right after that it dawned on me that he killed my brother in April. So that's where the real test of where Paul said the love of God compels us. That's where the real test came for me, mentoring and discipling a man who killed my brother.

SSC: Yes. Amen, thank you Hananiah. What an amazing story, only through Jesus Christ could this happen right?

RHZ: Amen, yes.

SSC: No other way than through Jesus Christ. And this terrible civil war left, I understand, about a quarter of a million orphans.

RHZ: Orphan kids.

SSC: Yes, and now your ministry is helping them.

RHZ: Yes, so the Ministry of Hope has taken on the challenge of establishing orphanages and schools for children who have no parents, most of whom were perhaps children of pastors who were executed or killed during the Civil War. So it's an excellent opportunity.

SSC: A quarter of a million children left orphaned.

RHZ: Yes.

SSC: And an 85% illiteracy rate in this beautiful country of Liberia.

RHZ: Yes.

SSC: And you and I are going to keep talking about how we can maybe partner down the road in that regard.

RHZ: Thank you.

SSC: Because of my doctorates in education and anything I can do..

RHZ: Oh great.

SSC: ..to help, I really feel called to partner with you, my brother. So thank you, thank you. Can I have a prayer for you?

RHZ: Yes.

SSC: Lord Jesus Christ, I just lift up to You this, Your dear, beloved son, our brother in Christ. You have called Him; You have put a mantle, a wonderful mantle of leadership on him. You could not have chosen better. Bless him, encourage him, surround him, bring him all the help he needs so he can fulfill Your dream in his life. Thank You, thank You, thank You, Amen.

RHZ: Amen.

SSC: God bless you.

© Copyright Hour of Power 2009. This interview was conducted by Sheila Schuller Coleman from the pulpit of the Crystal Cathedral and aired on the Hour of Power July 26, 2009.

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  1. youngeone writes:

    Thank you for speaking about your country LIBERIA, telling us about GODs GRACE AND MERCY in LIBERIA. How blessed we are in this present time of history ,through the internet and sattelite recievers to be able to know what is happening and to rejoice with you .I will certainly avail myself to know more about the changes and progress happening in LIBERIA. Thank you HOUR OF POWER for this interview.JMC.

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    07/27/2009 00:50:49

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