Saturday, June 11, 2011

MissionTrip Update.....Part 1

First of all, thank you for all your prayers on Mark Daniel's, John Horn's, and my behalf as we ministered the Gospel in Cameroon. I also appreciate very much all the encouraging comments you offered to Nancy regarding our trip while we were away. I want to briefly bring you up to date on our activities while in Cameroon and what our needs are as we head down the final 3 month stretch before moving the whole family to Cameroon. Because there is simply too much to say in one email I will break these updates up over the next few days so you can get the whole enchilada so to speak in bite size pieces.

Whereas, we preached and ministered in several churches during our 20 day stay in Cameroon the highlight of the trip was our trip to the "Far North" to share the Gospel with the Fulbe. God graciously provided us with opportunity after opportunity to do this beginning with a 15 hour train ride from Yaounde to Ngaoundere. While on the train Mark Daniel and John Horn, both Army vets, took the opportunity to engage Cameroonian Army personnel, who were also traveling, with the Gospel. They shared their own personal experiences in Iraq as well as handed out Gospel tracts and Mark's book "Jesus' Deployment To Save Sinners". All of the soldiers were happy to talk with Mark and John and receive these Gospel materials. Then later on during the journey we took the opportunity to play the New Testament in Fulfulde using one of the Gospel Proclaimers that was donated to us by a ministry in Albuquerque, NM. The response was overwhelming. As the people in our car began to hear the New Testament being read in their own language the crowd around the Proclaimer grew with people wanting to hear what most had never heard before--the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We also went through the train car handing out tracts as well as the Jesus Dvd in Fulfulde to those who had the means to play it. Before we reached Ngaoundere we had given away many of our tracts and Jesus Dvds. Not a single person refused to take a tract or Dvd and as word spread throughout the train of what was going on in our car several people came to us asking for Gospel materials.

Once in Ngaoundere, preparations were made for the ca. 400 mile trip to Maroua in the "Far North". We rented a Toyota truck with a front and back seat as well as hired a driver and then proceeded to pack our things which, besides personal effects, also included 50 CDs of the New Testament in Fulfulde, 100 Jesus Dvds in Fulfulde, and over a hundred Gospel booklets. Then we packed a seven man crew into a five seat truck and headed North. The seven men included, besides Mark Daniel, John, and I, our driver--John, our Fulfulde translator--Watchman, our guide--Clifford, and Fidele--our contact whose home is in Maroua. The only road to the Far North is considered by the Cameroon government to be very dangerous for travelers, especially Westerners, due to bandits. God graciously provided us with protection and we had no trouble at all. The other issue of concern when traveling into the northern part of Cameroon is the Cholera epidemic which is now continuing into its second year. There are of course many other risks involved with taking the Gospel into an unreached Muslim people group but that is one of the things God uses to reveal His greatness and infinite value to these unreached people. As they wonder why three Americans would leave their families, travel over 6000 miles, and risk being robbed or killed by bandits, as well as becoming the victims of such diseases as Malaria, Cholera, and a half dozen other serious maladies just to come and tell them about Isa (Jesus) they get the idea that this Isa must be very important.

Arriving in Maroua in the late afternoon, we were blessed with rain which cooled the high temperatures coming off the Sahara Desert considerably. We met Fidele's family and enjoyed a Cameroonian feast prepared by his mother Christine. We also were able to go to his church and meet the elders whom we were able to share our vision with. We provided the church with many theologically solid books written by John Piper, C.J. Mahaney, and Wayne Grudem that Southern Hills Baptist Church in Copperas Cove, Texas provided for us to give out to pastors and churches. I also met up with an old friend from my last trip back in September of 2010 who we quickly recruited to pursue the work of following up on all the solid contacts we would make in the next few days. My friend Alexis who is a Cameroonian preparing to go to China next year as a post-graduate student readily agreed to do this for us. Finally, the next day we left for a large Fulbe town outside of Maroua. Once in the town of Bogo, we prayed asking God to direct us to the right part of town to begin sharing the Gospel. We headed for the market, parked the truck, got out and fanned out. Clifford and Watchman took the Proclaimer and began playing the New Testament in Fulfulde while the rest of us began engaging other people along the street with the Gospel literature and the Jesus Film Dvds. All were interested in what we were handing out and what we had to say. Surprisingly, we met some who spoke enough English for us to talk with and of course many knew French.

The highlight of this day in the market was meeting the chief of a Fulbe village whose village was located outside of town. He immediately wanted us to come to his village to talk with his elders and the Imam who lived there. Wow! This was just too good to be true. As everyone loaded back into the truck I asked the chief if I could ride with him on the back of his little 125 cc Chinese motorcycle to his village--Waro Mango. He motioned for me to hop on and away we went down a road that quickly turned into a trail just barely wide enough for the truck to follow. Finally, after about twenty-five minutes of dodging trees, other motorcycles, and people heading back and forth to Bogo for market we made it to Waro Mango. He motioned for us to enter a small thatched roof hut made of sun-dried mud bricks and sit down. So we took off our shoes, went inside, sat down, and waited as the chief returned with many men including the local Imam from the Mosque. Once everyone was seated the chief pointed to a small wooden chair and one of the men placed it in the middle of the hut and then motioned for me to sit in it. Once in the seat I noticed that all eyes were on me. Thus, with a nod to Watchman our Fulfulde translator I began pulling out some solar powered light bulbs and explaining how to use them in their village which of course has no electricity. After giving them to the chief along with a beef stick, I asked them if they would like to hear the words of Isa in the New Testament. They all nodded in agreement so John and Clifford fired up the Proclaimer and began playing the Gospel of John chapter four about Jesus meeting the Samaritan women at the well. While the Proclaimer played the men all listened attentively and outside the hut women and children were gathering around to hear it as well. But then the Proclaimer which, is solar powered ran out of juice and in the dark hut we could not keep it going.

Unable to restart the Proclaimer I began to tell them the story of Isa beginning with Creation and moving through redemptive history all the way to final judgment and the eternal state. As I shared the Gospel with these people I struggled trying to think of how to teach them so as to make the Gospel clear. Simultaneously and silently praying as I spoke God provided the words and much to my surprise even the Imam from the Mosque was attentively listening and did not offer any challenge when I stepped on pretty much every so called Muslim time bomb there is in explaining for instance that Isa is the Son of God who came and died for the sins of sinners. Apparently, these Muslims haven't read all the books written by scholars explaining why missionaries shouldn't do this. When I finished the men in then hut asked us to come back again to talk more of this Isa. Before leaving John and Mark Daniel handed out candy to the children as well as tracts to those who could read them. We also "snapped" a few pictures of the chief and his wives and kids before leaving. Sadly, because we did not have any Christian women with us we were not able to engage the women and children with the Gospel. Next time this will be a priority and Nancy as well as our daughters Bethany, Rachael, Esther, and Peter can't wait to go to Waro Mango.

Well, this is enough for today. I will send out more updates over the next few days. I welcome your responses and especially your prayers for Alexis as he follows up with the chief and the village of Waro Mango.

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