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.
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.)