In November 2013, I took my first short term missions trip to Cameroon Africa. What a great experience it was. Our team’s objectives were to build the roof for a small church in the village of Mdintzi and minister to the women and children of the village. But I came to understand that God had much more for me to learn on this trip to Cameroon. What I found out during this journey was a rich history of the commitment by the North American Baptist Conference (NAB) to the people of Cameroon that began in the early 1890’s. Yes…that’s right, the early 1890’s. But let me first tell you a little bit about what was accomplished through our team before writing about the NAB’s rich history in Cameroon.
Our team of short term missionaries assembled for the trip by Darrell Schuh consisted of Darrell, Jim Weaver, Larry Evans, Ben Riordan, Phil Bremerman, and me from Elk Grove. Ladd Bennett, Bob and Charlotte Mayforth, and Jean Rosio completed the team as they joined us from other parts of the U.S. The ten of us met together for some strategic cultural training in Chicago before our journey across the Atlantic. We began our trip in Cameroon with a two day journey with several stops along the way to the village of Mbem. This was our home for the next 12 days while we worked with a team of young men from the Cameroon Baptist Convention (CBC) to complete the roofing project and minister to the women and children of Mdintzi. Our work site at Mdintzi was about a 40 minute drive by Range Rover from Mbem.
The roofing project went well. It included trusses that were made from furniture grade mahogany. Yes, that’s right...mahogany. Mahogany is one of the main sources of wood in Cameroon. The mahogany 2X material we used came from local trees not far from the work site that were cut to size by a chainsaw. We finished with a day to spare thanks to all the help from the group of young men from the CBC and the people of Mdintzi. The women and children’s ministry was also a great success. We all had a grand celebration together on Sunday as the village held the church services in the newly roofed building. I’m sure God was please with what had been accomplished as we united together as brothers and sisters in Christ. While we had accomplished what we had come to do, it became clear to me throughout our journey that God wanted to show me something more about the work he had done and is doing through the many NAB missionaries, both long and short term, in the country of Cameroon.
The best way to describe what God has done, and is still doing, is to say God has used the NAB and its missionaries to give many in Cameroon a hope. Until this trip I hadn’t known about the hospitals, seminaries, and churches the NAB has helped establish and supported in the country. The Cameroon Baptist Convention (CBC) is the fruit of many years working with Cameroonians to form their own church leadership. Now, the NAB has taken a partnership role with the CBC who has taken the leading role in evangelizing the country of Cameroon and providing health services. The CBC has become so successful that there membership is nearly three times the size of the NAB conference. God is good!
It’s not surprising that Christianity is growing by leaps and bounds in Cameroon. What I’ve found is the people have a sense of community that we as Westerners have difficulty understanding. We’ve been taught to be self reliant. They naturally have a deep family like community due to their tribal history. Their example of community gave me a real example of the oneness we are called to have as the church. Acts 2:44 is what I saw. They also have a freedom of worship that is difficult to describe. They really did cheerfully give at the time of offering during the church services. They danced before the Lord as King David did in the Old Testament because of the things God had done. They truly displayed grateful hearts of praise as they sang to God. It’s no wonder why Cameroon holds a special place in Darrell Schuh heart and the many others including myself that have experienced God there through his people.
I could go on and on about the three weeks of life change we all experienced in Cameroon and the blessing it was to us all. But I need to leave some room for others in 411. One thing that must be said as I complete this article is I believe everyone, some time in their life, should experience being on mission. You don’t even have to go to the other side of the world either. There are plenty of opportunities close by where you can engage in partnering with God as his hands and feet. There’s no telling how your life will be changed no matter what your age. One of our team members was born in March of 1933. (You do the math) So you seniors don’t have an excuse either. You just need to make the time to be open to the blessing of being the hands and feet of the Master.