Friday, October 21, 2016 8:45pm-2:45pm CST
I have decided to start out on a serious note and will start the “fluff” in a bit. If you know anything about ministry; you know it can be encouraging and discouraging. Each time you baptize someone into Jesus you are encouraged. Each time someone says no to the Lord you are discouraged. Each time you do something that you know pleases the Lord, you are encouraged. Each time you sin, you are discouraged. Each time you see a congregation faithfully following the Lord; you are encouraged. Each time you see a body of God’s people who are not following Him; you are discouraged. We read in Numbers 32:9 that the 10 unfaithful spies discouraged the people. We know that as a result they would have 603,548 funerals in the next 40 years. In Joshua 1:9 the Lord tells Joshua not to be discouraged because He will be with him. In II Chronicles 20:15 the Lord tells King Jehoshaphat to not be discouraged as he came against a vast army. Why; because the Lord would be with him. As Paul wrote the Ephesian brethren he told them not to be discouraged because of the trials he was suffering (Ephesians 3:13). Paul says in II Corinthians 4:16 we do not lose heart (become discouraged) because of the trials we face. We read in Hebrews 12:3 that we look to Jesus so we will not lose heart in the midst of wicked people. Well; I said a lot to get to the situation with the church in Ebolowa. I will not go into great detail regarding its history for it would take many pages. Bottom line is that the church lacks leadership, discipline and courage to serve. It reminds me of the church in Sardis which Jesus proclaimed to be dead. As you know; He says that even within this dead church there were some who were faithful. My fear in Ebolowa is that the few faithful will not be able to overcome the weak and fallen. This is why I brought up the issue of discouragement in my second sentence above. Paul will tell the brethren in the churches of Galatia that he feared that he had wasted his time on them (Galatians 4:11). You and I have put a great deal of work into the church in Ebolowa and I fear for it. I have no idea of how well my message was received tonight because you never know at the time. I do want you to join with me in prayer for this body of believers.
Here is the day as it unfolded. Got up at 7 although did not have to leave until 10. Spent more time than usual in Bible reading and prayer, especially prayer as it relates to the church in Ebolowa. Slept well and the power stayed on throughout the night. We took machines to the church hall as there were supposed to be two prospects to study with. Unfortunately, they did not materialize. We then spent much time talking about the problems regarding church growth on the French side and the problems within the church in Ebolowa. Jean Claude and I then climbed machines back to the hotel and then climbed a couple of other machines to a grocery store to buy a few things for tomorrow. We ate lupper at 2 in his room once more. It was very nice. Oh, at about 1pm the power went off but the Lord was so kind that it came back on within 90 minutes. I then worked throughout the afternoon on some things that Jean Claude and I had discussed regarding the future growth of the church in Cameroon. We left for the church hall at 4:55 and once again, there were supposed to be prospects but they never showed up. Although we did not have a single study today, I do not feel as though it was a wasted day. Tonight, I spent much time with the church in speaking of their need to be individually involved. The service was very nice and afterwards we had a meeting. During the meeting, some serious rain fell for about an hour or so. Also, some wonderful thunder. Two of the brothers have autos and we were able to get a ride home. However, the hall is elevated and I had to walk down a treacherous incline that was filled with soggy mud. Took my time as I didn’t want to get my pants dirty. For those of you who know me I am very particular about the way I look. Washed off my sandals in some rain by the roadside. I recently bought my first pair of sandals because I have Planter Fasciitis. These have arch supports and I am soooooooo glad I brought them. Oh, right after I preached the power went off in the building and it did not come back on so the meeting was held by candlelight. I knew that the hotel had a generator and was hopeful that it was ‘kicked on’ and it was. You will recall that we had a generator in Yokaduma but it would not run the A/C or Fridge. This is a powerful one and I am in bright light as I write with the A/C purring along.
- I realized that I am taking “running water” for granted in Cameroon. You see; when I started working in Ghana and I came to a hotel; one of the first things I did was check to see if the water was running. Oftentimes it was not. Let me share one story from back in 1992 or so; I checked the water in the rooms and it was not flowing so I went to the manager of the hotel. I said: “The water is not flowing” to which he replied: “it’s coming”. I then said: “when will it arrive” and he replied: “8:30 or 9:00 tonight” and I said OK. I went back to my room and our preacher, Richard Blaisdell was on the trip with me. We started playing 2 handed Spades and every hour or so we would go check the water. Well; by 9:00 the water had not arrived so I went down to the manager and said: “the water has not arrived” to which he said: “it’s near!” Well, 5 days later it was still on its way! We have been blessed with running water on a consistent basis for so many years and for that I am thankful.
- I pray that my opening salvo did not discourage you. When I look at the overall work in Cameroon I am quite satisfied. I, like you, want everyone to be a Christian and every brother and every sister to be committed to the Lord. It just doesn’t work that way.
- I did something this morning that I have only done a handful of times in my life. I turned off the A/C because it was tooooooooooooooooooooo cold!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
- Below are two pictures from my hotel room. You can see on the left that when I said the bathroom was small, I was not joking. Below is a panoramic view of the church hall in Ebolowa.
- Yesterday I mentioned that some things are the same in the States as here. For example, each night Linda sprays our bedroom for bugs and we do the same here. Jean Claude just finished spraying my room and in 20 minutes I can go inside.
- Oh, speaking about being spoiled. The internet has sent my HOWDY each day the first time. When I first started writing the emails, later the blog; I had a connection that sometimes was 9.6 which is really slow. You prayed when you hit PUBLISH and sometimes the reply from the Lord was yes and other times no.
There was a double whammy regarding transportation in Cameroon today. First, a bridge from Yaounde to Douala collapsed so there is no car or bus traffic between the cities now. If you want to go by car you will have to take a roundabout way that will take 8 hours normally but longer now because so many are on that road.
Second, many were taking the train because of the bridge failure and there was a derailment and at least 53 are dead, 575 injured and 14 trapped. The initial report was 3 dead and then 10 dead so the number may increase even more. Please pray for their families. When we first heard about the bridge Jean Claude and I were going to take the train but that is no longer an option. Also, Simon Parfait who is the preacher at Nkoabang where we are working on Monday and his wife were injured. Not serious and we know of one other brother who was on the train but escaped any injury. This is an horrific tragedy so please pray for them.
We plan to leave for Yaounde at 6:45 in the morning. Will work with one of the Yaounde area churches on Sunday and Nkoabang on Monday. We are both doing well and thank you for your continued prayers.