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The Rev. James Mazdeh: Praying for another day

The Rev. James Z. Mazdeh served for 18 years as a pastor in The United Methodist Church in Grand Bassa County outside of Monrovia, Liberia, before retiring in 1997. A UMNS photo by Kathy L. Gilbert.

By Linda Green*
March 27, 2008 | MONROVIA, Liberia (UMNS)

For the Rev. James Z. Mazdeh, life is much different today than it was when he was in active ministry.

"Whatever God provides, I eat it for the day and pray for another," he says.

Mazdeh served for 18 years as a United Methodist pastor in Grand Bassa County outside of Monrovia, the capital of this West African country. Before retiring in 1997, "I went all in the district preaching the word of God and baptizing them in the name of Jesus Christ," he says.

Now 86, his life has changed. "When I had more strength, I farmed. But now I couldn’t make it," he says through an interpreter. "I have no strength and power to go in the bush and cut bush and plant. I just sit down."

Mazdeh relies on a quarterly pension of US$60 from the United Methodist Liberia Annual Conference, and his wife sells goods in a small market to generate some money. Sometimes they have to rely on help from their children.

"I have nine children," he says. "Some of them are here (Monrovia) and give a small something to me. But those who are in the country farm cassava, and they bring cassava, rice, to me, and I eat it."

Mazdeh’s plight is shared by many other retired United Methodist pastors and church employees in Liberia. The church is developing model systems for providing pensions to pastors, church workers and dependents in Liberia and other countries. More information on the Central Conference Pension Initiative is available at www.ccpi-umc.org.

"When I was young and strong, I used to go everywhere and find ways and means" of making a living, Mazdeh says. "But now, there is no way to go up and down, and I just stay. Whatsoever God will provide in one day, I eat it, and pray for another day."

*Green is a news writer for United Methodist News Service in Nashville, Tenn.

News media contact: Linda Green*Nashville, Tenn.*(615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.


The Rev. James Mazdeh and David W. Paye

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