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As always, it is hard to believe how much “life” has happened in the couple of months between newsletters! How has God been surprising you lately? Any curve balls, or is everything happening perfectly according to your plan and expectations? Nope? Me neither!
This school year at RFIS started with a pretty significant announcement. Our director (of 14 years I think) and her husband made the difficult decision that this will be their last year in Cameroon, as the time has come to move closer to aging parents. They will be missed tremendously, but we are all glad to have a full school year to say our ‘see ya laters’ and to prepare as much as possible for the inevitable transition. Equally (or perhaps more?) surprising than the announcement itself was the request that came a few weeks later, asking if I would be willing to accept the position as Interim Director for next year. Yikes! How is that for a curve ball?! It took me several weeks to agree, but I am now on a path I had not considered or expected. Though I have always figured I might move into a partially administrative role at some point, ‘Director’ was quite definitely not on my radar! Interestingly, that is exactly how I have often described the process of ending up here in Cameroon – that ‘Africa and Missions were not even on my radar.’ It is amazing how God can focus our attention in a direction that we weren’t even looking.
The other defining influence on our lives here this year has been the political situation here in Cameroon. Though our daily lives here in Yaounde haven’t changed much, the same cannot be said for many elsewhere. The unrest in the NW and SW regions that has been building since 2016 continues, with bullets flying between government troops and separatist militias in those regions and reports of atrocities committed by both sides. Many have fled to hide in ‘the bush’ (out in the rainforest and savannahs, in unpopulated rural areas) and
UNICEF’s August estimates reflect over 250,000 people internally displaced from those two regions. Cameroon also had presidential elections early in October which added another layer of tension and uncertainty as the country’s president of 36 years sought another term. Interestingly his strongest challenge came from within the Francophone population, not these areas currently experiencing unrest where very few even braved the polls. Their version of an inauguration (A Cameroonian friend called it the ‘I do solemnly swear ceremony’) should be happening early in November. Pray that the closure of the election season will bring a renewed openness to listen to one another and to seek diplomatic resolutions rather than the increased violence some fear.
It is hard, from an earthly perspective, to see how this can be resolved. The more my heart breaks for the people of Cameroon, the more I am compelled to cry out “Come Quickly Lord Jesus!” Throughout all of this, I have often been asked how people can help, or what the Church is doing, and I am happy to say I now have a concrete answer to share. In support of the Cameroon Baptist Convention’s efforts to aid those suffering as a result of this conflict, the NAB has created the Cameroon Crisis Relief Fund. In this season of thanksgiving, as we reflect on the many ways God has blessed us, would you consider giving a gift that would help those caught in the midst of this crisis? Follow this link for more information about how to give: https://nabconference.org/give/cameroon-crisis-relief/
As I consider those of you who will read this newsletter, I am once again struck by how enormously blessed I am. It is WAY too easy to lose sight of that and to grow overwhelmed by the heartache and disappointment of this world, but we don’t have to give in to that. We serve a God who is greater than the worst this world has to offer and can wipe away the most jagged of scars. . . a God who left the glory of heaven to walk among us and experience the suffering and loss of this world . . . a God who IS and CAN DO ‘immeasureably more than all we ask or imagine.’ (Eph 3:20) As we enter into this season of Thanksgiving and approach Advent, take a couple minutes to think about that. What is the greatest thing you can imagine? What is the most difficult task you can imagine? He is and He can do IMMEASURABLY MORE!