Reverse Racism

We think of racism as something people experience here in North America if they happen to be ethnically different from those around them. Our NAB Church is of German background, as is my own family on my mother’s side. Mom has told me that during the Second World War her family did not speak German (which is why she never learned) because it was a bad thing to be known as a German person in Canada at the time.

aminu-mosobaBut racism exists in Africa as well, sometimes in odd forms, which I sometimes don’t quite know what to do with. For one thing, it is mostly reverse racism – which means that white people are sometimes treated better than others.

I remember coming into a restaurant on my own one day for my supper. There was only one other man there, a Nigerian fellow. The owner knew me so when I came in she walked over to my table and took my order. Unbeknownst to me, however, she had not yet taken the order of the Nigerian gentleman, and he proceeded to complain, in no uncertain terms, that he was the victim of racism since he had been neglected in my favour.

Not only was this embarrassing all around, but the fact was, he was right. He had been neglected for me. There was not much I could about our hostess, but I did invite the fellow over to be my guest for supper, and am happy to say we had a very nice time of it. He educated me some more about how Nigerians feel about westerners in general and missionaries in particular.

The last time I was in the airport in Yaoundé, trying to come home, our plane trip was cancelled (hydraulic problem in the plane), and myself and the doctor I was travelling with had to spend the night in the airport. Some folks managed to get out and grab a hotel room, but I don’t think we were as experienced travelling in Cameroon as we needed to be.

Anyway, the next day in the airport we were surrounded by tired, frustrated, and sometimes angry Cameroonians who had also spent a very difficult night in the airport. My friend and I (he is from the U.S.) were chatting with some older ladies, and they asked us where we had spent the night. When we told them they were very surprised, since they just assumed that white people would have been given some kind of grand escort to a 5-star hotel. It was good (in an odd sort of way) to be able to tell them that we had been treated just as poorly as everyone else.

As I look forward to going back to Cameroon to live I am thinking of these things, and of all the cultural things we will need in order to adjust well to living there. And of all the prayer we will need from our supporters back here in order to do that well.

October Update

It has been a very busy last several weeks – and the end is not in sight. But an update is in order here I think.

Over the weekend we hosted our second son, John, as he is travelling to a new job in Whistler, B.C. He reached there safely this evening (thank the Lord), so now we have one child in each of the four Western Provinces. From west to east: John is in B.C.; Cari is still here in Alberta; Robert is in Saskatchewan; and Daniel is in Manitoba. Our original plan (our “druthers”) was to have them all together in Winnipeg, Manitoba, but sometimes the ‘best-laid plans of mice and men gang aft aflay.’

We have been busy packing some of the boxes that White Cross will be shipping for us at the end of this month. All the books that I’ll be taking are packed up, plus some bedding and other household things that we’ll need there. Sonya is mostly taking care of the household stuff, so I know it is good

I have been doing a lot of preparation for the month of October as there are three Missions Conferences happening here in Alberta. The first one is this Saturday down south, in Lethbridge. As part of the Alberta Baptist Global Operations Team (aka the ABA GO Team) I will be giving the keynote message, plus leading a workshop on International Partnerships.

The weekend after that I will be doing the same thing at Brentview Baptist in Calgary; and the next weekend after that I will doing the same thing yet again at the GEM (Greater Edmonton Missions) at Steele Heights in Edmonton.

While Sonya will be talking to churches and individuals in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, I’ll also be preaching in a couple of churches in the Edmonton area: at First Baptist, Leduc this coming Sunday, and then at River of Hope Church in Devon at the end of the month.

So . . . my friends, your prayers for all these events, and our travel on the roads (our first snow came this past Friday) are so much needed and appreciated. Thanks and God bless you!

A Day on the Road

I remember134-boys-bike-in-great-shape one time journeying with my friend Pastor Timothy, going to minister in a remote church.

We were travelling by motorbike (“machines”), and Timothy arrived an hour late to pick me up. He was on foot, having gotten a flat tire on the way. He needed money to fix it, so I handed over some cash and, after the flat was fixed, we set off on a very rough road.

By the time we reached the Donga River the tire was flat again and needed to be re-repaired. Another twenty minutes was spent doing that and we were on our way again. We arrived at the church an hour late – but no worries: they were not even finished their announcements! (Sometimes a long church service can come in handy.)

donga-river-crossing-1I preached a sermon on how the Baptist Convention there could be great in God’s eyes (which was a pretty decent sermon as I recall), and afterward while we were hosted by the pastor and his family Timothy arranged to have the tire completely changed.

We finally got away from that little place a little after 3 pm and then, wouldn’t you know it, ten minutes outside of that little place we ran out fuel! I couldn’t believe it, but there you go. TIA.

So I handed my last N150 (a few dollars’ worth) over to Timothy and he gave it to the first guy we saw on a machine heading back the way we had just come. It took a long time for the fellow to come back and Timothy began to get a bit antsy about him absconding with our funds, so he eventually hitched a ride with someone he knew and followed along after him.

Meanwhile, I wanted to walk along in the direction we were travelling but Timothy forbade me because he was worried I might meet up with thieves along the road. So I sat down by the machine and waited it out.

After what seemed like a long time Timothy came along with the original fellow, puts some gas in the tank, and off we go again

At the river I was kibitzing with a fellow on the shore who asked me if I had money. He knew I was a Reverend man, but did not believe me when I told him I had no money. So I asked about the state of the Christian witness in that place that he would call a white pastor a liar. When I told him where all my money had gone he thought that was hilarious and had a good laugh at my expense.  I must admit it did sound funny when I told it like that.

Timothy later told me the fellow I had been laughing with was one of the very thieves he had been worried about. Then it was my turn to have a good laugh.

A Typical Vision

Here is a story (in abbreviated form) that is quite typical of what is going on right now in the Muslim world.

For security reasons I cannot show a picture of him, but I have a friend named Linus who lives on the Mambilla Plateau. Linus was the son of a village elder in a large village on the Plateau, “living the good life” (his words). The village was mostly Muslim when he lived there, and his family was also Muslim.

There were a few Christians there, though, and they wanted to have a pastor come and minister among them. So the pastor came one day, and my friend Linus was sitting on a rough bench in the village square plotting together how to kill the new pastor because he was converting Muslims to Christianity.

As they were plotting together Linus was suddenly thrown to the ground and went unconscious. His friends had no idea what had happened to him, so they took him to the hospital. The doctors did not know what had happened to him either, so they wrapped him in white sheets and declared there was nothing they could for him.

While Linus was lying there he had a vision of an angel, which he thought was an evil angel, so he tried to cast it away. The angel told him, however, that he was the angel of the Lord and that he should listen to the gospel of Jesus.

So he believed the gospel right then and became instantly well. The angel said he would return to his people to be an evangelist, so he resolved to do just that, regardless of the cost. He has indeed been beaten and dragged on the ground, but this has not deterred him, and his testimony is a riveting story for these people.

I went with Linus to visit some new Christians one time, way out in the bush, and we came across a Muslim man who wished to know what we were doing out there in the middle of nowhere. As we talked Linus began to share his testimony with him, and at the end the man declared that before then he had been speaking in ignorance, but now he had come to know the truth, so he also wanted to become a Christian.

According to the word of God: “. . . young men shall see visions . . .”

The Packing Process!

Through the blessing of White Cross , we have begun the Packing Process! (I know this because I am sweating and tired already!!)img_5675

Mr. Bert Harsch, who seems to be the major domo of the White Cross here in Edmonton (under the direction of Dr. Keir Hammer), called us up last month to let us know a shipment was going out to Cameroon in mid-October and we could tag onto that if we chose. Naturally there is a cost for White Cross shipments, since ships do not transport big sea containers for free, but Bert has also generously donated the cost of our boxes.

I decided to start with a bottom row of books, since that is the easiest thing to start with, and I have a few of them to go. (The opposite of St. Paul; he had his books come after him, while I will send mine ahead.) Being a pastor working in small towns and rural settings, I knew I would not be close to good theological libraries – and of course I started out before everything could be found on-line over the internet – I have been collecting (?? not sure if that is the right term) books for about two decades.img_5676

Not all of them will go with us of course. While I like the feel of a book in my hands, and can use them much better than looking at a computer screen, they are too heavy to transport them all, and I expect that a lot of what I will need will be found in the library at the seminary in Mbu.

When we lived in Nigeria and I taught at the seminary in Ndu, Rev. Dave and Mary June Burgess had already been there for ten years. They were retiring back to the United States the summer of 2009 (our older boys travelled with them when they came home). Dave had made the seminary in Mbu the best one on the Mambilla Plateau, and probably the best one in Taraba State. Prior to that he had been working at the same library I’ll be at in Ndu, Cameroon for (I think) 29 years. They have named the library after him, so I am positive that library will also be in extremely good shape.

So the packing has begun. Because I am still working full-time as a pastor here at Wiesenthal, I do not really get overly excited about our mission. This process, however, makes the whole venture seem much more real and . . . well, yes – exciting!img_5678

Thanks again to Bert and White Cross. This is a wonderful blessing.

Praising God for Minnie Kuhn

When we lived in Nigeria in 2008 all of us got malaria at least once (except for our oldest, Robert, who somehow managed to stay out of the way of the mosquitoes).

I remember contracting it on a Tuesday night when I got a chill and a fever, and I knew already what it was. The next morning I walked up the hill to go to our devotional and described my symptoms to a friend across the fence. He said, “You’ve got malaria,” and I said, “Yup, I know it.”

Later that morning I went with our son Daniel to the clinic across the street (very handy for us) to get checked out by a Dr. Daniel. The doctor checked me over and sent me for blood work, after Daniel. Dan had tonsillitis, having already had malaria the week previous.

Meanwhile I was given a bucket of drugs (13 a day – Kai!) to take, and told to get lots of bed rest and “good feeding.” This last part sounds good but is not as easy as it sounds. When someone in Nigeria gets sick it is the duty of their friends to come and visit them. So I still had many visitors.

At one point the doctor told me his name, saying that he had been delivered and named by the missionary Minnie Kuhn, who will be known to many of our NAB people here in North America – and by literally thousands of people in Nigeria. I praise God that her work is now being carried on through men and women like this.

img_4355Pictured here is Dr. Wim and Marlene Munting – the wonderful missionary doctors who were serving in the hospital while we were living in Gembu. This was their farewell celebration in 2009.

“Things Just Come”

Sonya likes to say that “things just come” to her, and it is true. She is never at a lack for things to do, and is very good at seeing needs and trying to fill them. This week I am batching it at home in Alberta, while Sonya is filling a need in the province of Manitoba.

When we lived in Manitoba she was very involved with the camping program at our Lake Nutimik Baptist Camp, in the Whiteshell Provincial Park. She even served as the program director for a summer or two before we moved. Since she has been gone, she has kept in close touch with the new program director there, and has helped out most summers at the camp in one way or another.Mom's pix 057

This summer she has been helping out at Nutimik in various ways – this week she is out on a chain of lakes in the Park, canoeing with a group of high school girls. Sonya is a canoe instructor here in Alberta and loves to be on or in the water, whether it is a lake, river, or her favorite: white-water.

When we travel to Cameroon we know a few things that are going to happen, mostly with my position. I’ll be teaching, travelling, and continuing the evangelism ministry I have been doing the past seven years.444

Sonya’s position will be a little more ambiguous. While she will be travelling a lot more with me, and working more closely with the women in the Fulbe villages, she’ll also be working on “the things that just come to her.” And I am confident that, God helping her, she’ll do a great job.

Peculiar Humour

I find that people in Nigeria and Cameroon have a great sense of humour for the most part, and happily it sometimes matches my own penchant for sometimes strange comedy.

I remember visiting our partner village with Sonya one day when we lived there in 2009. Just as we were getting ready to leave a woman there walked by and said that she loves me and would like to my second wife!IMG_3339

This was a broad joke for the people there, and they were wondering how I would react to such a request. Well, I laughed along with everyone else, and then told her I was sorry, but I did not think I could afford a second wife. This brought more laughs – and then I went a bit too far and asked her if she thought she could make enough money to support all of us.

I was saved by Sonya poking her head around the truck, even though she had not really caught any of this. This is what happens in a culture where having more than one wife is quite alright.

The Bigger Picture

Our church subscribes to the Church Around the World newsletter, which gives relevant news stories about what is going on in the world with respect to the Church (sort of like the title says . . . ).

In the August, 2016 edition there is an article there about attacks on Christian villages in northern Nigeria by “Fulani tribal fighters.” In their attacks they have “burned Christian residents alive, torched animals and houses, and destroyed farms.”

Apparently Fulani terrorism is on the rise in northern Nigeria but it has been overshadowed by the Boko Haram terrorists – also operating in the north – who are now affiliated with ISIS. The story goes on to note that the president of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, is a Fulani man and the hope was that he would help to quell the violence. Instead it has only increased.

When we speak about the Fulbe we are speaking about the Fulani – the two words mean the same thing. Fulani is the anglicized version of Fulbe (which comes from the Fulfulde language).

I want to stress the fact that where Sonya and I will be ministering, we will not be in any direct danger – though we will still want you to pray along the lines of 2 Thessalonians 3.1-2: “And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people, for not everyone has faith.”

On the other hand, our Fulbe friends are in various degrees connected to some of the Muslim Fulbe in the north, and it is our fervent hope that their witness will serve to draw their fellow Fulbe to Jesus Christ.

Inflation Alert

I was talking to a friend of mine in Nigeria yesterday and he was explaining to me the price situation there. Most people will know that worldwide there has been a rise in oil prices from Nigeria and OPEC recently.

What might not be so well-known is the effect this has had on fuel prices in Nigeria, with the subsequent adjustment in food prices. IMG_2509

The Nigerian President Muhammad Buhari made the decision to take the federal subsidy off the fuel prices earlier this year, and that resulted in a drastic rise in local food prices which has seriously affected the poor people that I know about.

My friend tells me that a bag of maize in Gembu that used to cost N8,500 now cost N16,000 (CAD c.$34 and $65). You can imagine the hardship this has caused among the poorer people in the region. My friend says that there are many now who are going to the hospital, suffering from malnutrition.

IMG_2518I fear mostly for our brothers and sisters in the Needy Church in Gembu. My son Daniel and I used to go there to help distribute rice and other foodstuffs that had been donated by generous donors from Canada. We also loved to be in church and worship with them when we got the chance (which was not too often).

Please pray for our poorer brothers and sisters there, not only among the Fulbe, but all of the tribes on the Plateau Mambilla who are suffering right now.