Dear Family and Friends:
Beth, Erin, and Andrew leave Ndu in about an hour, and the rest of us will follow at 6AM tomorrow. Beth will spend the night in Bamenda, and we plan for our two vehicles to meet in Bafoussam around 9AM and drive the remaining 5-6 hours to Douala together.
We've had a very full last few weeks. As many of you know, I had an attack of kidney stones on Tuesday, May 21 that sent me to the hospital in Banso. After 24 hours on morphine and valium, with 7 liters of fluids fed me through an IV, we returned Wednesday night. But I ended up missing three of the last four teaching days of the semester, which was hard for some of my students. Then on 2 June, I had a second attack, but this time was able to control the pain with Percoset, so did not have to go to the hospital. But missing 4 days at the hectic end of the semester pushed my work back quite a bit – I ended up being the last teacher at the seminary to submit grades.
Nevertheless, despite missed days, the semester went exceptionally well. Students responded very well to all classes, particularly Marriage and Family, Revelation, Pleasures of God, and Biblical Eldersihp. We thank you for your prayers. Here are some student comments on our marriage and family class:
(from a student whose wife is not a believer) Marriage is really ministry, which is an opportunity for me to show Christ’s love for my wife to win her for Christ. . . . From sharing with my wife on this course, I can see that from her testimony she is enjoying our marriage afresh. Even myself, the patience I exercise and the forgiveness I forgive my wife gives me joy in my heart and makes me have clear conscience to minister to my family.
This course has taught me many things, but the most interesting . . . is about in whom to really find satisfaction. In my culture, if a man or woman is not married, he or she is considered as a second class person in the community. As a result of this I involved myself in marriage knowing that it is my wife or the marriage life that will give me real satisfaction and joy. But this did not happen as I expected. Instead, the marriage life became a burden and I sometimes regret I get into marriage so early. I have come to understand in this course that true satisfaction is found only in Christ. . . . I have started seeing Christ doing His work in our marriage as the Head.
I have been made to understand what children are. And I have been made to know my part as a paret in raising children. I then understand that with this gift from God I am charge to take care because they are special blessing from God. In many cases I have not been spending much time with my children but with the help of this course I have been spending time with my family either doing Bible studies or trying to memorize passages. It has been wonderful that the children can now pray during family devotions. I have catch the vision to be praying for my children and with the help of this course I am praying to start the children ministry in the church I am assigned to serve.
I have been made to understand what children are. And I have been made to know my part as a parent in raising children. I then understand that with this gift from God I am charged to take care because they are a special blessing from God. In many cases I have not been spending much time with my children but with the help of this course I have been spending time with my family. . . . I have caught the vision to be praying for my children and with the help of this course I am praying to start the children’s ministry in the church I am assigned to serve.
An important insight I have gained as a family head concerning child raising is that formerly I use to think the church and the school are the best places to help my children grow spiritually, morally, and academically. . . . But I have been seriously challenged/rebuked by this course to know that it is my primary responsibility to bring my children up by giving them time and attention/teaching them spiritually, academically, and morally through the Word and by my example.
The day that you start this course is the day that my wife started enjoying me, even both together with sex. Thanks.
This last comment comes NOT because the course was on improving married sex life, but from our teaching that the sexual relationship reflects the quality of the overall relationship between husband and wife.
Friday the 7th was graduation. Graduation at CBTS is a huge affair. All present students are required to stay to help with set-up and clean-up, numerous alumni return, many officials are invited, and of course graduates bring a large number of friends and relatives. Probably close to 2000 people attend the ceremony, which lasts about five hours. I spoke on 1 Timothy 4:12-16, “How to Save Yourself and Others” (this sermon will be posted at www.expository.org by 17 June), highlighting paying attention to one’s example of Christlikeness and the use of one’s spiritual gifts. After I spoke, they invited the whole family up front, took us to a little room behind the podium and dressed all of us in traditional Cameroonian outfits they gave us as a parting gift. It was really something. We came out and they presented us to the congregation, asking each of us to say a word. When Thomas said he plans to return to Cameroon as a missionary, there was thunderous applause.
After the ceremony, there were numerous receptions on campus and we made our way around trying to see all the students that had invited us to join them. Several of the receptions had traditional music and dancing, which was quite fun. Everyone wanted us to speak and they all wanted to feed us and take pictures with us. I doubt we've ever been photographed so much in one day.
Yesterday I preached at Emmanuel Baptist Church, which we have attended most Sundays, on “I will never leave you or forsake you.” This was a baptism service for 20 people, with the Lord’s Supper at the end, so we our last Sunday service in Cameroon was also one of the longest, at about four and a half hours. Again, we were asked to come forward and give our goodbyes to the congregation of about 500. The pastor spoke highly of us, and a retired minister gave a prayer on our behalf that moved me to tears. In the afternoon, we said a teary goodbye to our good friends, WorldTeam missionaries Shawn, Randy, Luke, and Scott Olson, as well as our new friends, SIL folks S and K (for those of you from Community Bible, S and K are good friends with Williams and CBC alum Julie Pak).
So here we are, our last day in Ndu. It is very hard to leave. We have sensed so strongly God’s purposes for our presence here, and have so many clear examples of God’s work through and in us. Each of us has grown in the Lord in significant ways during this time. And there seems to be so much more to do!
Yet, sad as we are to go, we are confident that the Lord is leading us back to the US at this point. Do continue to pray for His guidance as we correspond with churches in many different parts of the country. We want to go where God will use us most for His glory.
We much look forward to seeing many of you in the weeks ahead. We will be worshiping at Good New Baptist in Alexandria, VA this Sunday, the 16th, including the leading of some Cameroonian choruses. On Sunday the 30th of June I’ll be preaching on Psalm 67 at Grace Covenant Presbyterian in Mauldin, SC; during adult Sunday School and over lunch we’ll be showing pictures from Cameroon and talking about our time here. Our first Sunday in Williamstown will be July 21; the schedule for preaching and discussing Cameroon is not yet definite there. If you want to know those dates, let me know.
One of our students recently said, “The words “thank you” are not strong enough to express my feelings for what you have done here. If there were stronger words, I would use them!” That is the way we feel for what God has done through you. We want to say much more than “thank you” to each of you for your prayers and sacrificial giving that have enabled us to come here and to serve God in this place. We are overwhelmed with gratitude to God and to you for this opportunity. We praise God daily for three of you, so mention every one of you in our prayers regularly. Thank you, thank you, thank you, from the bottom of our hearts.
Praying that God would fill the earth with His glory as the waters cover the sea,