Brighter Day Update

I finally managed to reach my friend Aminu in Nigeria this morning (after having the line go dead three times in a row) and got a bit of an update on the refugees on the Mambilla Plateau.012-friday-2-pm-prayers-in-gembu

The people there have now gotten out of the “Why Worried” Hotel, and have found themselves different places in the town of Gembu where they have resettled. A great deal of thanks are owed to Robert Ngalam, the owner of the hotel, who hosted them when their need was the greatest.

While their homes and possessions were mostly destroyed in the fires, they still have the land around their old homes, and they are now preparing to go out to the farms and begin the season of hoeing and planting. Their cows were out in the pastures as well, so they have been back to check on them.

Pastor Aminu says they are adapting well to life in the town. Their children will need some help now, however, with respect to their schooling. All of their books and school supplies were destroyed in the attacks, and will now need to be replaced. Plus, virtually all children in Nigeria need to wear uniforms in order to go to school. This means they will all need to buy new uniforms before they can begin attending school in Gembu as well.

Government workers have inspected the damage in the burned-out village and will now report back to their superiors. The people believe that something will be done by the government there to help them, since the government leaders there are reputed to be fairly decent. The difficulty sometimes is that the amount given by the government may be “cut” by those handling the funds, so that when it gets down to the people who actually need it the amount is sometimes less than is needed.

Meanwhile, I asked about the House of Prayer in Gembu also. Pastor Salihu is reporting that the work there is coming along, slowly but surely. Many Christian Fulbe in the town of Gembu would be afraid of coming out publically as Christians by attending worship there because there is a great amount of oppression and opposition to Christianity there, but they are slowly becoming stronger and more courageous.

Thanks for your prayers for these good folks. If you would like to give aid in more tangible ways please let us know here and we will let you know how that may be done.

(P.S. The picture is the main street in Gembu on Friday afternoon when the Muslims gather for prayers. There are so many they spill out onto the street.)

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Early Pioneers

I was talking to one of my sons recently about how our support-raising was going, and I said it was coming along slowly but surely. It is humbling, I said, when I think of all the folks who are generously giving to help us to minister in Cameroon and Nigeria, and he asked me whether I felt any pressure to do well there.

I said, no, not really. We really do want to do very well in the work there because of all the people who are giving towards the work, but I do not feel pressure, only a great deal of uplifting support. It is the prayers of the people, and the power of God’s Spirit, which will enable great things to happen, and will give mundane events eternal significance.weber

One cool thing I have been doing here is reading a book by a fellow named Charles William Weber, a history professor at Wheaton, who wrote a book called International Influences and Baptist Mission in West Cameroon : German-American Missionary Endeavor Under International Mandate and British Colonialism.

The very neat thing about this book is it highlights the lives and work of Carl Bender , Paul Gebauer, and George Dunger. These three men and their wives were early NAB missionaries in Cameroon and Nigeria, and in my previous work on the history of missions on the Mambilla Plateau I have heard of all of these men.

What made them special in those early days was the very “modern” outlook they shared concerning the stance the missionary ought to have with respect to the peoples being evangelized. They had all attended our denominational school in Rochester, and probably imbibed a good part of their thinking from there.

In a nutshell, we can say they agreed with Jesus – that if you try to pour new wine into old wineskins it will burst them apart. So they did not try to make the tribal peoples they ministered to into good Europeans or Americans, but sought to plant the gospel on native soil. This perspective no doubt contributed to their success, and to the future success of the Cameroon Baptist Convention.

I am glad to say the Fulbe work is travelling along the same lines. The Fulbe are a wonderful people, and the Christians among them are committed to remaining who they are as God has made them, but now in the kingdom of light.

(P.S. About the book –  the price is prohibitive at $158. Happily, our Taylor Seminary Library has a copy, which is where my wife got it for her class.)

Yawwa

Yawwa! We are in language training!jamila-jeff-fadima-aminu-at-majidu-farewell

My forays into language learning have been mixed at best. I remember taking High School French in Grade 8. I got a good grade, but did not know the language at all, so I switched into German to see if I would improve much. I took German to the end of Grade 11, and actually learned a little bit.

In my first year of university I started learning biblical Greek, and did well enough in that to keep it up as much as I have been able in the years since.

Now Sonya and I have been trying to learn Fulfulde, the language of the Fulbe people. We are learning it from a book I ‘stole’ from Gembu when we lived there in 2009 (this was when we figured we would be the last missionaries there) (I guess if anyone wants to be reimbursed they can talk to me about that . . .:-{0 ). Learning a language from a book is not the best way to do it, but it is the best we can do right now.

I am hoping that getting this bookish background will help us when we finally get on the field and are immersed in the culture there. Sonya is at a bit of a disadvantage here, since I have already lived in the villages and have been able to hear the cadences, learn the greetings, and have even picked up some of the vocabulary.

I already knew, for instance, that “Yawwa” is an expression of approval and joy, and have used it lots in daily conversation with my friends.

Now we are waiting for the day when it will be all caps: that we’ll say YAWWA! on our arrival in Cameroon. Thanks for supporting and praying along with us on this journey.

Black Day Update

After a week has passed, the dust has settled a bit on the Plateau, where our friends had had to flee from their village after their homes had been burnt by a large gang of young men.

They made their way safely to the city of Gembu, where they have been housed at the Why Worried Hotel. This is where I stayed in 2010; it is owned by a Mambilla Christian brother who has offered it to these refugees free of charge.

Meanwhile, the local government has given aid in the form of food and clothing, and food and other supplies has also been coming in from other Fulbe Christian communities. Our own church, Wiesenthal Baptist, has raised just over $1600, which will also be used for food and medical supplies.

My friend Aminu reports that the people do not appear to be overly traumatized, but in as good as shape as can be hoped. Their immediate needs have been taken care of, so it is their long term disposition that is the question now.

One concern they have regards the justice system there. They fear that the young men responsible may somehow go unpunished, which would encourage more of the same to take place, thus making the Plateau even more unstable.

So, while we are thankful that our friends are safe, and thus far well cared for, we pray that justice would be done there. Thanks for your payers.