Sunday, March 15, 2015

Introducing the Bakoum Language Committee

By Stacey

Yesterday was one of the happiest days of my life.
Four years ago, during our visit to Cameroon, we met in a room at city hall and heard a handful of people explain why they wanted the Bible in their language. Yesterday we met in the very same room this time with over a hundred leaders in the community and watched them take concrete steps to that end. They elected leaders, they brainstormed about how to raise money for the project, and miracle upon miracle, they agreed to work together for the good of the project. They dreamed up what they could do once their language was written down: they could finally write down the songs that make up such a huge part of their culture, they could preserve their history as people and they could even write letters to one another. You could feel the excitement.
On all counts, God answered our every prayer. The people who have already proven their commitment to the project (through the giving of their time and finances) were elected into positions of leadership. Mine and Dave’s presentations were understood by the group and they accepted what we had to say. And there were truly peacemakers among the group that keep people’s strong opinions in check (namely our friend Jean Yves). Many people told us that they have been waiting for us to come back and they thanked us over and over again for our willingness to help them.
We truly serve a living God who hears and acts on behalf of his people and his kingdom.  Praise be to God.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Launching of Bakoum Language Development Committee Tomorrow: Please Pray


By Stacey

Well tomorrow is the day. It is the launching of the language development project for which we have been praying and preparing for years. If all goes as planned, we will have this 6 hour meeting at city hall with over a hundred representatives who have been selected from each Bakoum village.  Jean Yves, the Cameroonian brother who is helping us mobilize the community, will be here tonight and will preside over the meeting. I am going to pick up a Cameroonian-style dress I am having made later today. All that to say, this meeting is a big deal.
 

At the meeting we hope to…
Get them dreaming. I will ask them what their dreams are for their language (whether that be writing pamphlets regarding health or agriculture, sending one another letters, writing down their history, opening a museum, etc). We hope that their dreams will get them through the years of hard work ahead of them.
Present them with a list of the steps it will take to develop their language (ie. determine the best dialect, come up with an alphabet, etc) and a tentative timeline.
Present our criteria for a language partner
Present our first of our monthly linguistic surveys (this one will cover language vitality)
They will elect their delegates: president, secretary, etc.

Potential Difficulties…
Living and working among this people for a couple of months now, we foresee the following challenges:
Not playing well with others. The other day we attended a funeral and observed people fighting and yelling at one another about…EVERYTHING. For instance, how to lower the casket into the ground, what to say/not to say before the body was buried, and so on. People have gotten mad at us because we visited their enemies house in their village. And this is not to mention all the passionate feelings people have that they are the ones who speak the real Bakoum. We expect sitting through a 6 hour meeting filled with arguing and disputing. It is safe to say this is a contentious people (they need the Bible!).
Too much talk and not enough action. Everyone says that they want to contribute to the cause of the development of their language, but there have only been a handful of people who have invested their personal time and money to see make it happen.
Electing the wrong people. Those who are elected will be the people that we will be working with for years and they are also the people who can make or break this project. We fear that the most powerful people will pursue these positions, not in order to do the necessary work but in order to just have another title.

Prayer Requests…
Pray for peacemakers among the Bakoum to intervene at the meeting and create order.
Pray that the people who are elected would be those who are passionate about the development of the language, who will work hard and who will be people of their word.
Pray for us. We will have all four kids with us on stage as we seek to give technical presentations in French for hours. Pray that they will behave appropriately for the setting and that God would guide us as when to speak and when not to, what to say, etc. Pray Dave and I would glorify the Lord.
Momentum. Pray that this launching would create much enthusiasm among the people and pray that this enthusiasm would never die. We are hoping to have them doing surveys for us monthly and hope to create sub-comities which will be charged with literacy among the villages, fund raising, writing and publishing materials, and so on. Pray that this project would be the hot topic of conversation in the fields and around the wells in the villages. Pray this momentum and interest would carry the project all the way until the Bible is read.  

 

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Life in our New Village

 
by Stacey
Well it has been almost a month since we moved into our new house and we gradually moving from the “survival / getting set-up” mode to the “language / culture acquisition” mode. I must say that we are ever so happy to see the “just trying to make it” phase fade off into the background and are thrilled to begin to spend our days in concentrated study.

So how is it?

Thankful
Overall, I would say that we are just really thankful. We are thankful to have a home that is not a source of frustration and stress but instead is a comfortable place where we can study and be together as a family. We are thankful for the beautiful palm trees, the sounds of exotic animals and the women wearing brightly colored clothing carrying what they just bought at the market on their heads. I am thankful for all the neighborhood kids that come over wanting to play soccer with one of their flip-flops on our front porch and run around in the dirt with our kids. We are thankful for the opportunities we have to read to them French story-book Bibles as we pray they are understanding something. There are also few things I enjoy more than sitting with ladies in the village watching them cook and learning some vocabulary words from them. I love to see their eyes light up when I pronounce one of their words correctly. The only thing that rivals that joy is the joy of acquiring and analyzing a new language (Dave says I am a nerd). I am so thankful to get to spend time with my husband debating over which sound we think we heard in our language session and trying to determine what in the world a particular tone could be.
In addition to these joys, Dave and I both have started teaching at our church. The other night I was teaching at a woman’s prayer meeting giving an introduction to the attributes of God when I was interrupted by a loud baby goat wandering through the living room. I can honestly say I have never been interrupted by a baby goat in the States – there are so many things here that just crack me up. All in all we are thankful to be here and delight in many aspects of this life that the Lord has given us.
But only the Beginning
Me and Kyra at a Bakoum church service
However, we just have so much to learn and sometimes it is a bit overwhelming. I had thought that making friends would be easier seeing that this culture is relatively warm and outgoing. I am beginning to wonder our region might be an exception to that. Our pastor recently explained to us that since we are a “higher class” (since we are white…blah) the relational ball is in our court and that it is our responsibility to initiate and pursue relationships. This is just plain hard. It is like expecting a child who does not yet know how to speak or care of themselves to go strike up a conversation with the clerk at the supermarket. It feels like an uphill battle.
Also communication is hard. We are learning Bakoum through our second language, French. So far it has been going fine, thanks to the Lord, but it is nonetheless mentally exhausting. And like I mentioned we are teaching at our church, which is an honor, but it is hard for us to teach in French and we wonder if more than a handful of people in the congregation can understand anything but Bakoum.

How are the Kids?

When we first moved in, I told Makyra to go use the restroom then come to dinner. A few minutes later I found her wandering around NOT doing what I asked her to do. When I asked her why she was not using the restroom, she looked at me baffled and said “Where is it mom?” I do not know if it was more pitiful that she did not know where it was (after being in our house for a couple days) or the fact that she was standing right in front of it. All that to say, the transition to our new neighborhood has not been a super easy one for the kids.
Another concern for us is that we now see a resistance in them to speaking French (except Kaden). This hesitancy seemed to happen overnight and we are praying that this is a phase that will pass as speaking French and/or Bakoum is crucial for their relationships here. As we mentioned before, we had put them into a French preschool only later to pull them out (they were speaking French with no problem then). This last week we decided to try a different school in the community two days a week (in addition to home-schooling them and having a French tutor come over twice a week). So far the kids love the school…that is everyone but Elias…
Kaden and Boris
Elias is staying home with Dave and me as he continues to need a lot of discipline and instruction sometimes it seems on a minute-by-minute basis (which is not what he would get in a class of 60 children, 1 teacher, and a couple stray dogs). Oh we love this child dearly and at the same time are amazed at how little fruit we see in our labors. Please pray for him on every level: rebellion to authority, deliberate acts of hatred and destruction, and oh the screaming. We have great hope in our Lord and yet are sometimes discouraged in the day in day out parenting. I will say however that he LOVES life here which is a blessing (who does not love mud and chickens?)
Makyra and her kitten friends
As for Kaden, he continues to mature day-by-day and even spends hours with our friend Boris working with him in his corn fields (I am praying he will grow up to be like Boris). Kaden has lots of friends in the neighborhood and continues to have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. He also asked me the other day why I did not wear my blue earrings. When I told him I did not have anything that matched them, he said he would go buy me a shirt, but only if he could take the earrings to make sure he got the right shade (who is this kid?).
Makyra is never seen without a kitten in her arms. Djandja and Sprinkles have brought that girl hours upon hours of entertainment and joy. Makyra is truly our only easy-going child. She is cool with going to school. She is cool with staying home. Whatever. However, I often have to encourage her to keep on task during homeschool because she’s so mesmerized by the dust particles in the air (it’s like glitter mom!)
Zoey continues to be at the same time the most intense person on the planet who constantly needs to be told to calm down and a source of happiness and joy. She is our little helper and would rather do dishes and build shelves with us than play with her brothers and sisters. She is a pleasure.

The Project Advances

Our first ever language committee meeting will be held on March 14th. Representatives from every village will be there including many government officials (over 100 invitations were sent out). We will write another post with more information and specific ways to pray soon.  



The end of a 7 hour women's meeting


Me learning body parts in Bakoum


Sprinkles



Reading to the neighborhood kids


Cute neighborhood kids playing with blocks


Half the neighborhood showed up to watch Dave do Kyra's hair



Our market

 




Monday, February 23, 2015

"He is just a bad kid"

By Stacey

I had a church history professor in seminary who said that Pelagius did not believe in original sin because he never had kids. Had he been a father, he would never in a million years say that people were born basically good. I could not agree more.

That’s Just the Way it is…

I think the new air that we are breathing here in Cameroon may have a slight twinge of fatalism in it (although that depends on the people group). For example:
“Can you come pick up so-and-so and take them to their village to die?” (um, how about the hospital?)
“Why keep our kids clean? We are the ‘dirty’ people group.”
“Why really invest in our kids when it is highly likely they will die young anyway?”
 “Your son, he is just a stubborn, difficult child. Period.”
So, when I hear these things my American and (I am pretty sure) my Christian side totally rejects them. All I want to say is “Fight it! Fight death, fight the haunting thoughts of your kids dying and enjoy the days you have with them, have a power encounter with that stubborn three-year-old and win it. And even if you do not see fruit, fight it anyway and die trying.”
And, as it relates specifically to parenting, I think the Scriptures have very concrete reasons why we should not throw in the towel even when we do not see any changes in our children.

If God saved Paul, He can save my child.

When I hear once again what my son has done to provoke the neighbor kids or how many spankings he got at school only to have him say, “I did NOT sin!” I wonder if he will ever change. The truth is, if it were up to him, he would not. He is dead to God, blind to his sin, is a lover of darkness and even premeditates sin on his bed. He is simply enslaved (like all of us start out) and cannot free himself. I can say with confidence, that if it were up to my son, I would have NO hope right now. But I do not hope in him. I hope in the God who took a persecutor of the Church, knocked him down and blinded him, only to save him and use him as a missionary. When I look at my son, I am hopeless, but when I look to God, I know that there is nothing impossible with him.

Christian Parents do Rub off

And even if he is never saved, I know that we can influence him for good. Paul says to spouses married to unbelievers…
For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. - 1 Corinthians 7:14  
A lot could be said about this passage, but one thing we can draw from it is that children of at least one believing parent are considered “holy.” I do not think this is referring to holiness before God on judgment day, but instead an outward conformity to God’s moral law (even if their hearts are not in the right place). So, because I am a Christian, somehow the Lord in me can rub off onto my child and make a positive impact.

Spankings Drive Away the Folly

I do not necessarily understand the connection between spankings and a change from foolish, godless behavior, but there is nonetheless an undeniable link. “The fool says in his heart there is no God” and this is the folly that the rod drives away. According to Proverbs, there is a lot of hope that when we are faithful to discipline, the child will become wise:
Discipline your son, for there is hope - Proverbs 19:18 
Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him. - Proverbs 22:15 

At the End of the Day, I Am Going to Heaven

In just a little while, I am not going to be seeking to convince any stiff-necked child that stealing is wrong. I will no longer be grieving over their sin and pleading with them to listen to the wisdom of their parents. No, I will be done parenting and will be in a place that is filled with the knowledge of the glory God. I will not have to turn to any little person and say “know the Lord” because everyone there will know him and want to serve him. Paul says, “Let…those who mourn [live] as though they were not mourning… For the present form of this world is passing away.” 1 Corinthians 7:29-31. So, for the time being, we pray and plead and grieve but we do it as if we were not mourning because we can practically see the New Jerusalem.  

To conclude, let us not be fatalistic with our children. The Lord purposefully saved Paul when he did so that he could show us that he can save anyone. He also is using us as Christian parents in the lives of our kids to make them holy and further the old-fashioned “rod of correction” is God’s means used to drive out their rebellion. And when all is said and done, we will soon enjoy an eternity of rest from the labors of parenting. What hope there is in being a Christian parent who serves the living God!

Monday, January 26, 2015

The Overemphasis on Balance

by Stacey

Heights by great men reached and kept
Were not attained by sudden flight,
But they, while their companions slept,
Were toiling upward in the night.
- Longfellow
 

We are experiencing many new adventures as first-term missionaries and in recounting them we often hear from our loved ones that we need to make sure we are not pushing ourselves too hard. Being the kind people that they are, they do not want to see us burn-out and go back home with remnants of what used to be a marriage, messed-up children, and the Bakoum people left without a Bible. We are thus often reminded that we need to be balanced, make sure we are getting enough rest, guard our personal time, and the like.
Did Paul Work too Hard?
Simultaneous to these conversations, I am reading through 1st and 2nd Corinthians and I wonder if Paul, the great apostle-missionary, would give me the same counsel. Page after page, I see him laying down all of his rights for the benefit of those whom he is serving and he is telling me to “imitate him." Here are some examples:
He was always trying to please the nationals: “Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.” (1 Cor 10:32-33)
He spent himself on the souls of others:” I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls.” (2 Corinthians 12:15)
He labored and suffered and was often near death: “Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one…with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death…” (2 Cor 11:23ff)
He went without sleep and the necessities of life: “In toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.” (2 Cor 11:27)
He daily felt anxiety for those under his care: “And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.” (2 Cor 11:27)
Quite honestly, when I compare my life to his, I am struck by my lack of zeal to see souls saved. I consider my life easy as I do not go without rest or the necessities of life. I have food, I have clothes, I even have kittens. I have not had one sleepless night and honestly the state of the church here is not as much a point of anxiety in my life as it should be. I read the life of Paul and I am all at the same time confessing my lack of zeal and totally inspired to push myself harder for the souls of others.
Why then the huge discrepancy between the radical life of Paul and the call to not “push ourselves too hard”?
A Question of Motivation
I think one reason is that people are concerned that our motives could be misguided. For example, if one is caught up in a “if I don’t do X,Y,Z today, then the Kingdom of God will not advance” frenzy, he is not resting in Jesus’ promise that every soul the Father elects will come to him. It is King Jesus who builds his Church and neither the gates of Hell nor the failures of his missionaries will prevail against it. In the same way, if one is going hard in Kingdom work under the guise of humility while fantasizing about his future biographies, it is his own glory he is seeking and not God’s. And finally if one’s identity is so intimately wrapped up in what he does for the Kingdom that when he is in bed with malaria he falls into despair, then this is a tale-tale sign of a misunderstanding of the peace he has with God in Christ. So, yes, there can be internal impurities in a life of external service.  
Love: The Motive that Justifies “Imbalance”
But I must ask the question, “Were these the motivations of the apostle Paul?” Was he laboring and toiling to make a name for himself or to become “more” justified before God? No! Instead his motive was love for the Lord and for others. He refers to people under his care as his children, he claims that he has fellowship with Christ in the midst of his sufferings, and he says that he endures everything for the sake of the elect. How then can we criticize a life like this one when his motives were so pure?
Let Us Spur On One Another
And so, whereas I do think there is wisdom in making sure to get enough rest and the like, I wonder if the church today may emphasize balance too much. After all, Hebrews does not tell us to spur one another on to more rest and plenty of exercise, but rather calls us to encourage one another to love and good works. So, I put forth the following challenges:
·        Do not Overemphasize Counting the Cost. When someone shares with you their dreams in serving the Lord do you emphasize counting the cost to the exclusion of the power of God and the sufficiency of his grace? Do not immediately start listing obstacles and difficulties (that is SO discouraging). Why not instead start listing all the times that God has proved faithful in your life? Or how he split the Red Sea? Or how he sustained Paul in the midst of his suffering? Why not remind them that the Lord has given them the Spirit of power, love and self-control? Do not be the wet blanket, but instead seek to fuel their zeal with the fact that nothing is impossible with God.
·        Correct the Motivations not the Actions. If someone is going hard in service to the Kingdom, go ahead and ask questions about their motivations (being careful of course to not assume impure motives). Do not hesitate to make sure that they are still being faithful to read their Bibles, spend time with their kids, love their spouse, and pray. But unless there is a chapter-and-verse command that you can find, do not call them to slow down in their service to the Lord. Their zeal might be the work of the Spirit.   
·        Adopt More of Paul’s Imperatives and Lose a Couple of Your Mom’s. In counseling our brothers and sisters in Christ, do we counsel more like Paul or like Mom? (I am not saying there is never an overlap). For instance:
Mom’s Imperatives: Be careful, make sure to get enough rest, take care of yourself, be careful, brush your teeth, go have some fun, be careful, make sure to call home, be careful, take your vitamins, be careful…
Paul’s Imperatives: Endure everything for the sake of the elect, set your mind on things above not on earthly things, remember that the sufferings here are only for a moment, how will they hear unless you are sent to them?, remember that Jesus will raise up your tired, scarred, corruptible body for a new one, do everything in love, do not be slothful in zeal, rest is coming, do good works, pray without ceasing, I wish you would remain single for the Kingdom, discipline your body and keep it under control so as to not be disqualified after you preach to others….
Being a mother, I am not saying to neglect the Proverbs or common sense, but being a Christian I cannot help but to encourage others to walk down a path that could be very costly to them for the sake of the Kingdom of God. I think that is what the Bible does.
I am not saying that there is never a time to call a brother and sister to “slow down” but let us be very careful to not stifle something of the Spirit. His ways, his leadings and his people rarely make sense at first glance.  

 
 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

When I Am Not Moved (a Poem)

by Dave




We had an excellent opportunity to go to a city called Bamenda last week and have a short retreat. We had an American pastor, and for the first time in almost 2 years, we experienced corporate worship in English. And an amazing thing happened. I felt nothing! I knew that this should have been a great relief and joy, both emotions I saw on the faces of those other missionaries around me. But I just felt cold and unmoved. I spent the week reflecting on what to do, and did find myself worshipping in the end. And I wanted to write out some of my thoughts and realized that as I constructed my phrases, they rhymed. So, here is the first poem I have written since I had to write them in high school. I pray that it encourages you.






The lights are dimmed with hands raised in the air,
and I must have sinned, 'cause I just don’t care.
I have been moved to tears in other times,
while we were singing these exact same lines.
Torn between distraction and feeling bored,
the commandment remains: “Worship the Lord.”
What should I do when my heart is not moved?
Sing anyway.

My Bible rotation has brought me back,
not to Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John or Acts.
No, it’s Numbers that I should be reading,
when it’s narrative I feel I’m needing.
Even with drooping eyes, and head and hands,
I’m reminded again of God’s commands,
What do I do when I don’t want to read?
Read anyway.

And sometimes I feel so far from our God,
when I want to pray, but I start to nod.
When vigilant watch I should be keeping,
like the disciples, I find I’m sleeping.
But I don’t want to make the same mistake,
Jesus told them they should have stayed awake.
What do I do when I just cannot pray?
Pray anyway.

I am not content to stay where I am,
living as in a barren desert land.
Nor is God content in me being me.
It’s new-creation change he wants to see.
And why not begin with the Lord’s commands,
to read and worship while raising my hands?
I find when the singing and prayers are done,

The change I crave has already begun.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Feeling a Bit Like Moses…How you can Pray

By Stacey
But Moses said to the LORD, "Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue." Then the LORD said to him, "Who has made man's mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak."
Exodus 4:10-12  
 
We are spending a couple days in the capital in order to get all dressed up and meet with “elites” who have incredible sway over our people group. Being an American who greatly values equality, I have been a bit surprised at how hierarchical the culture is here. For instance, in order to create awareness for our project, we do not go pass out flyers in the streets but instead meet with the most powerful people among the group and ask them to promote what we are doing to the rest of the people. Thus, if we are granted the “OK” from the powers that be, the entire group follows. Conversely, if we make a bad impression, in the words of our Cameroonian co-worker, “we might as well go home.” These meetings, then, make or break our project.
That being said, we find ourselves asking our friends if we can borrow their clothes, learning how to use an iron, and praying that the Lord would help us know when to shake people’s hands and when not to. We have a meeting tomorrow with one official, and if he grants us approval, we will then seek to meet another elite in Yaoundé. We are feeling a bit out of our league and more or less feel like Moses when God called him to speak in front of Pharaoh…and thus we are asking people to pray.
Please pray…
  • That we would not step on any cultural toes (that we would remember to use the formal French “you,” that our appearance and how we conduct ourselves would show respect).
  • That we would communicate our vision well in French.
  • That the Lord would “be with our mouths and teach us what we shall speak.”
  • That the government officials would not be suspicious of our motives but that they would trust us.
  • That we would find favor in their eyes and that they would both promote and fund the project.
  • That we would represent the Lord well and bring him glory.


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Wild and the Weird

by Dave
We thought it was high time for a blog demonstrating the crazy things we encounter here in Cameroon. Hope you enjoy!
Because we are staying in the forest, we often get hunters coming through our camp. This guy was quite proud of his most recent hunt where he bagged two blue faced monkeys. On a side note, I have not slept since taking this photo.

 I am not really sure what they were getting at, but this is not what I want to see on my laundry detergent. 

You may have already seen on Facebook, but we had our first green mamba at our new house. We killed it. By "we" I mean that I handed a 2x4 to a Cameroonian and he bludgeoned it to death and then took it home to eat it.

 This is called Jack Fruit. Each fruit is about the size of my head. 

 I do not remember what this fruit is called, but Kaden was really excited about it. When you cut it open on the inside you find something that has both the consistency and taste of vanilla pudding.

 I already knew that pineapples did not grow on trees, but I had no idea they could be red!

Cool moving plants!

This is a line of ants that were (fortunately) not walking towards our house. These ones bite and have taken over the homes of many people in our camp for a time. I am told it is just best to leave them to it and when they are gone the floor is completely swept free of any debris.


Saturday, December 27, 2014

A Translator’s Angst

By Stacey

With over a hundred languages without a Bible translation here in Cameroon, you can imagine that choosing ONE people group was a hard decision. But the decision has been made, we are going to, by God’s grace, translate for the Bakoum people.
And in the meantime, we are living among a neighboring tribe called the Baka….who also happen to be without a translation of the Bible. It is hard to step out my front door in the morning and not be faced with the reality that these people need the Word. Let me share with you two simple stories…

Missionaries are Not Enough
The other day one of our Baka friends here notified us that a woman in a neighboring village had passed away. This led to a conversation about where her soul might be. I briefly shared what the Bible said, that there are only two options of where we spend eternity: in Heaven or in Hell and our only hope for being righteous enough to go to Heaven is to be found in Christ. He listened and then had to go. I was sure that he did not “get it”(it does not help that French is neither his nor my mother tongue). I had a French Gospel of John with me and I wanted to give it to him, but quickly remembered that most of the Baka were illiterate. Alas.
Granted there are a handful of missionaries along with a handful of national believers here, but the people group contains about 50,000 people. Is this group of a dozen or so people enough of a Christian witness? Do believers themselves contain all that is necessary for the life and godliness of their neighbors? I do not think so. Only the Word of God holds that place.
Spiritual Disciplines…without the Bible?
In talking to a missionary friend the other day, I asked about the state of the Baka church and if she thought that it was mature enough to stand on its own without the presence of missionaries. She more-or-less said no. I asked her, “Why not? Can they not feed themselves spiritually?” To which she replied, “How can they feed themselves spiritually without the Bible?” How could I have taken for granted something so obvious and so basic? Of course people cannot grow nor govern a church without the Word of God.
Frustrated
So, all that to say, I am frustrated and I feel like the Baka ministry has run into a roadblock. Yes, there is a small church planted, which is great. But now what? How will the church grow numerically and in maturity? Can the missionaries who planted the church move on or do they need to stay with the church in order to disciple them…indefinitely? What happens when the missionaries die or have to go home to the States? Can a church really be sustained and grow without the Word of God?
Do I feel guilty for not translating for this group of people? No. We could only choose one group, which would automatically exclude all the rest. But I think I am little by little beginning to feel the frustration of my fellow missionaries in trying to build the church without the God-ordained tools.
So Now What?
I do not know what the Lord might do through this blog post, but all I know is that he tells us to “open our mouths for the mute” (Prov 31:8) and that is what I am attempting to do. I think a good start might be if we all would take a minute to place ourselves in the shoes of the believers here and imagine seeking to live a Christian life without a copy of the Scriptures we can really understand. Or maybe imagine what a handicapped state your home church would be in if they only had the Bible in French. And I trust that in these moments, the Lord will put it on your heart, as he has mine, to pray that he would send out more Bible-translating laborers into the harvest.

Send out your light and your truth - Psalm 43:3

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Is This Really Happening?

by Dave

It has been an intense couple of weeks here in Cameroon. We have visited a total of 19 villages and talked to innumerable chiefs and villagers. This has been an…interesting window into the culture as we struggle to not make fools of ourselves and also to understand what is going on around us. Here is a taste of some of the more wild adventures:

1. Drunk Man with a Megaphone

In one village I spoke with the chief and several notable members of the community. Several of the men there were drunk and one of them had a megaphone. He did not speak into it, but used it to make strange noises (including an electronic beep version of “When the Saints Go Marching In”). At one point he was angry because he did not feel like others were listening to him so he laid his megaphone at the feet of the chief (after removing the batteries). At the end of the meeting he told me he was not happy and that they had not heard the last of him. Also in this meeting I was accused of being a spy here to steal the secrets of the Bakoum people.

2. Artist Oops

I returned to a village the other day for a meeting and was invited into the home of a chief. In his living room someone painted things all over the walls. They were simple things like palm trees and the like. I asked the chief (using the formal French ‘vous’) if he was the artist. He looked at me in astonishment and said “It was the children!” Oops! I tried to make a face that seemed to indicate that I was impressed that children could paint such beautiful works of art.

3. Falling

We have often been reminded that we need to show our authorities respect here in Cameroon. So we are careful to dress up for important meetings, make sure to use respectful language, and not cross our legs (a sign of disrespect). After an important meeting with a government official Stacey walked out of Town Hall and fell to the ground like a child and started bleeding. Fortunately she was at that point surrounded by actual children that all took to laughing at her hysterically. It seems that God has once again chosen the weak things of the world to spread his message.

4. WITH!

A man followed me to my car after one village meeting shouting over and over again “AVEC!” (it means “with” in French). I turned to him and he started talking barely coherently about wanting to go with me (like to my home?). The man that I was with honked the horn from inside the car and encouraged me to just get in. He said that the man had already had a bit too much to drink (it was around lunch time). He unsuccessfully tried to get into the car as I was pulling away, but made it back to the village safely.

-------

With all of our mistakes and missteps, God has blessed us with encouragement during this time as well. Here are a few encouraging examples (if the language committee details confuse you, check out Stacey’s most recent blog: Change of Vision):

1. Sub-committees
We have been asking each village to form a sub-committee (a small committee in the village that in the end will send members to a larger language committee). This is the first really tangible step that the villages can take towards the goal of developing the language. And without a developed language we cannot translate the Bible. Just the other day I received a sealed and signed document that says that one village has already formed their sub-committee and assigned specific roles to each member! And then Sunday I received another. And that only a week after we brought the idea to them!

Prayer Request: Pray that the other villages would follow suit. We cannot move ahead without having first formed the language committee.

2. Point People
There are two regions that we are working with: Dimako and Doumé. I have asked the mayors in these two cities to give us the name of a person that could act as the point person. We now have two men, one for each region, that have committed to help us. One of them told me the other day that he is really passionate for this project and he would be willing to give it all of the time he is able. The other acted as a mediator in a really hard meeting and seems to really be a peacemaker. Praise the Lord!

Prayer Request: Pray that these two men (Simon and Onésime) would be faithful and hard working. Pray that the community would unite around them.

3. The Pol

The other day we attended a meeting that was a mixed audience of Bakoum people and Pol people. We addressed the Bakoum people to try to get them excited about the project. At the end of our presentation I mentioned to the Pol people (who also do not have a Bible translation) that they could start forming a language committee too. To be honest I did not expect much. But just the other day a Pol man that was at the meeting approached me and said that they had already started forming their sub-committees. He asked what would be their next step. This is particularly exciting because there is potential that we could get the Pol people on the right track towards a translation while we are here too.

Prayer Request: Pray for the Pol people. Pray that they would organize, develop their language, and translate the Bible. Pray that God would provide the resources they would need for this, as Stacey and I are going to be occupied with the Bakoum.

With the craziness and the encouragements we find ourselves often asking "Is this really happening?" And the answer is: Yes! God is working even through our weakness. Pray that he would continue.
----


Another Prayer Request: As a more serious reflection on the comic events, please pray for the affect of alcohol here in Cameroon. These are only two of many experiences we have had with drunk people. I think this will be a major hurdle for us in our ministry.