138 Berkshire Dr
Williamstown, MA 01267
14 May 2001
Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. It must be a surprise to hear from such poor correspondents! We are very excited to share some special news with you. We believe God is calling our family to spend the 2001/02 academic year as missionaries in Cameroon where Coty will teach at the Cameroon Baptist Theological Seminary.
Perhaps the last time you heard from us, Coty was in the Economics Department at Williams College. How did we end up heading to Cameroon? Since moving to Williamstown, MA in 1989, we have been active at Community Bible Church. Coty was asked to preach for the first time in the summer of 1990. Since 1996 this has been a serious commitment, preaching about 18 Sundays per year. Over the years he found his passion moving more and more towards the preaching ministry (for recent sermons, see his website: www.expository.org). This led to much wrestling with his sense of calling. Unquestionably he was called to preach; but was he to continue as a “tentmaker,” working as an economist and preaching as asked and as time allowed? Or was his call to full-time ministry? He prayed much over these words of Martyn Lloyd-Jones: “The only man who is called to preach is the man who cannot do anything else. . . . This call to preach is so put upon him, and such pressure comes to bear upon him that he says, ‘I can do nothing else, I must preach.’” After attending the Bethlehem Pastors Conference in Minneapolis in February last year, Coty sensed God’s strong call toward full-time ministry.
The 2000/01 academic year has been a time of study and preparation for Coty. He put together an extensive self-study program, but also desired the wisdom gained from being intimately involved with experienced, godly leaders of a fine church. Coty asked if he could spend three months at Bethlehem Baptist in Minneapolis, where John Piper is the senior pastor – and much to his surprise, the answer was yes. Piper’s writings have had a major impact on Coty’s thought and understanding of ministry, influencing him more than any other living preacher or theologian. Coty went to Minneapolis in late November, spending his time studying with pastoral interns, participating in staff and elder meetings, and engaging in a variety of ministries. The family joined him in mid-January. God used this time in our lives mightily, teaching us, encouraging us, and knitting our lives together with many in the Bethlehem family.
It was through Bethlehem that we came to know about the seminary in Cameroon and its needs. While in Minneapolis, Coty considered participating in a June missions trip from Bethlehem to teach a three-week course at the seminary. Then a letter arrived from Wilfred Fon, the seminary’s president, saying that they could certainly use more teachers at that time, but their much greater need was for faculty for the entire 2001/02 academic year. Tom Steller, Pastor for Leadership Development and Missions at Bethlehem, shared this information with Coty, and encouraged us to pray about the possibility.
We did – and in April, Coty received an invitation to join the faculty in 2001/02, teaching courses on preaching, Old Testament, and . . . economics! We had no idea the seminary offered courses in economics, and see this as a further indication that Coty is uniquely qualified for this call. Last week, the mission agency of the Baptist General Conference – which has a long-term relationship with the seminary – accepted us as missionaries. We enclose their endorsement letter.
Cameroon Baptist Theological Seminary (CBTS) is the sole institution that trains pastors for the nearly 800 churches in the Cameroon Baptist Conference. Located in northwest Cameroon a few dozen miles from the Nigerian border, the seminary is far from the distractions of urban areas. Most students are very poor, and give up their source of livelihood to attend the seminary. Many do not even own a study Bible.
Wilfred Fon’s vision for CBTS is that it spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of the peoples not only of Cameroon but also elsewhere in the region. The seminary is God-centered and missions-oriented. Cameroon itself is home to approximately 500 people-groups, some with no witness to the gospel in their own language. As Wilfred wrote in April, “We are desperately in need of teachers at CBTS for the next academic year.”
We are eager to serve as a family in Cameroon. Beth may teach English and work with the female students and wives. She may also be involved in rural health training, similar to what she did in Kenya in the early ‘80’s. Whatever else she does, Beth’s primary focus will be the family, supporting Coty in his work and homeschooling our six wonderful children. Erin is now 17, a lovely young woman whose main interests are horses and music. She works at a horse farm and enjoys riding in shows from time to time. She also studies voice and helps to direct the Bennington Children’s Chorus. Jonathan will be 15 in June. He loves acting, and works with the crew that produces our church’s weekly broadcast on the local public-access TV station. He also helps write, produce, and co-host our church’s Kid’s Show on that station. Thomas, 12, also works with the Kid’s Show. He plays the guitar and loves sports. He is now a faster runner than Coty! Andrew, 10, loves biking, cooking, and playing the cello. Matthew, 8, plays the piano, sings all the time and loves sports. Joel, 6, is thrilled to be playing in a soccer league for the first time this spring. He is a dynamo – we love watching his joyful exuberance on the field. He is happy to know that soccer is big in Cameroon.
We are delighted to have the call and the opportunity to go. We hope, too, that our going will cause some of you to ask, “What is God calling me to do? Have I simply assumed God is calling me to continue up the career ladder or remain in this comfortable life?” Ralph Winter writes, “The development of your own career must not be your main concern, but the development of the mission cause. . . . Jesus, today, might have put it, ‘Seek first the Kingdom of God and your career will take care of itself.’ . . . You don’t lose if you go with God. But you have to be willing to lose or you can’t stick close to God.”
As we embrace this God-directed change for our family, we invite you to participate in our mission:
If you have any questions, please contact us at the above address. Thank you for reading, and for praying for this exciting call on our lives. We look forward to hearing from you.
For the glory of God,
Coty and Beth
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