Wednesday, February 21, 2018 8:35pm-1:35pm CST
Hallelujah! You can certainly say that word for many reasons but as I write it is because I have found a working electrical outlet in the gate area at the airport!
It is approximately 108,000 seconds before I see my lovely wife! Yea! To give some perspective I have been gone for about 2 million seconds so you can see we are in the home stretch. We left the hotel around 6 and arrived within 20 minutes or so. We did have to stop to put some air in the front right tire. Arrived and went in with no problems. Had to wait about 45 minutes before I could get my boarding passes. Have them for Douala/Paris, Paris/Detroit and Detroit/Dallas. Went through customs quickly and was able to get to the gate almost immediately. It is over 3 hours before we fly out but I will be able to get a lot of stuff done on the computer between now and then. I have got to get a LOT of stuff done on the computer prior to my surgery next Thursday. I have never been down, even from a surgery, for more than a day or two so I think I am in for an experience. The picture on the left below is of Martin as he was fixin to leave the hotel. The one on the right is of the French preachers at the seminar last Thursday. The seminar always flies by and this was no exception.
I have stated on more occasions than I can count of the importance of the seminar to the growth of the church in this country. We are seeing great progress in the analytical skills of the preachers. If I remember correctly, one of the quotes I gave you spoke of a more peaceful church than in the past. I would argue that Cameroon has what I call a shouting culture. The concept of rebuking, for example, is seen as something that is done with a forceful voice rather than a loving one in which you are trying to correct. It is difficult to change culture. Now, oftentimes there is no need as certain cultural mores are neither good nor bad. For example, in Cameroon it is a sign of disrespect for a preacher to preach with his hands in his pockets. Frankly speaking, I pay no attention to where my hands are when I preach. To argue that the seminar is the totality of this ministry would be a big mistake. We are working in the field of evangelism, building up local congregations, roofing church halls, purchasing study Bibles for preachers, practicing benevolence to our brethren who are in situations that appear to be without hope, support of a few preachers, conduct village seminars, train sisters to teach children and much more. I think I stated this a day or two ago but I firmly believe that we need to work our way out of a job in any and all foreign works. The ultimate responsibility of the work of the church in a given country lies within that country. You realize, of course, that all mission work is opinion. What I mean is that Jesus gave a broad generic command to evangelize the world with no specific methodology. That means that my view is an opinion and nothing more or less. I do believe that you have some basic teachings such as Galatians 6:6 that lay the support of a preacher on the ones that he is teaching. That is not to say that we cannot ever help a foreign church but here is a big fear of mine: we have had an uninterrupted American presence in Cameroon for over 50 years. At what point do we say that we have done what we can do. There are those who would expand the reach of the American church in Cameroon and in my humble opinion, that will only retard the maturing process of the church.
Let me address the future of the church and understand that I realize I have stated many of the things I will say in past reports. I have a high level of confidence in the church in Cameroon as it stands now. Am I saying that the church in Cameroon does everything correctly and has no need to improve in their walk with the Lord? Absolutely not! What I do believe is that God is more powerful than many of my brethren in Cameroon believe. They are of the opinion that the following equation will produce church growth: God + Cameroonians + American money = a growing church. Make no mistake that the money part of this equation is paramount in the eyes of many. I, however, believe the following equation: God + Cameroonians + a limited and dwindling American influence = a growing church. When I look at the mission work I am familiar with in the world; I can see that in many venues the church in America has spent millions of dollars in a country with little to show for it. If we want the church in Cameroon to flourish at its best; we need to slow down in our participation. Now, am I saying that I plan to leave Cameroon tomorrow? No, but I also do not plan to replace myself. I have had American and Cameroonian brethren ask that question and it infers that there needs to be an American presence in Cameroon. There is a Greek word for that; balderdash! (Possibly it is Aramaic). God is sovereign and the key to church growth is a membership that is dedicated to Christ. Without that, you can throw as much money as you want at a particular country and your return will be minimal. My mission is not to be negative but rather positive; Paul said in Philippians 4:13 that he could do all things through Christ. Was that only true of Paul or is it true today. I believe we have a nucleus of brothers and sisters who have a passion for the Lord and His Kingdom. I further believe that the next generation is going to see a great change in the church in Cameroon and it may well coincide with a lower degree of input from us. Once again, I am not saying to shut down the work in Cameroon from an American standpoint. I am saying let them take the lead and I believe that they will if we get out of the way.
Thursday, February 22, 2018 8:00am-1:00am CST
It is approximately 68,000 seconds before I see my beautiful (and I do mean beautiful) wife! My mission last night once I boarded was two-fold. 1) Enjoy the best meal since my last flight and it was not disappointing. The main course was deeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeelious and topped off with a marvelous piece of chocolate cake! 2) Try and sleep for the balance of the trip. I think I was fairly successful but I woke up many times so probably got around 3 hours. Flight landed ahead of schedule and I am blessed because Air France is on strike today. Fortunately, I am flying Delta and even though they are partners it appears that they do not share everything in common. After exiting the plane took a train to the terminal I am flying out of and went through security. Flight is scheduled to take off in 2 ½ hours. I forgot to tell you the following last night: on the way to the airport I asked Jean Claude if Linda would rub it in on her siblings that she had had ice cream and ate at a restaurant. Well, she had already rubbed it in! I am going to sign off and see if I can get on the internet.
We are down to 43,000 seconds! I was able to get on the internet and got caught up on email. Boarded and took off on time. Had another impeeeeeeeeeecable meal. I think that on each flight they try to improve on the past one. That is virtually impossible to do; kind of like Linda getting sweeter. When you are already 100% sweet you can’t improve. I am reminded of coaches that tell their players to give 110% which only lets us know why they are coaching and not teaching math! I watched a movie on the plane and after working on this part of the Howdy will work on a sermon. Also, will edit my report and look at my PPT for March 11.
About 14,000 seconds! I can hardly wait. Landed a bit behind schedule but blew through Customs faster than ever before. This is the first time that I have landed in Detroit from overseas so possibly it is always this fast. Got my bag and rechecked it and headed to the gate. It was a long walk but still arrived 10 minutes before time to board. I got used to the big planes with a minimum of 8 seats across and 2 aisles. This has one isle and two seats on each side. The trip has been good and will land on schedule. My son Michael is going to fetch me. I will close with stating how deeply grateful I am to our Heavenly Father for the physical ease of this journey and more importantly, the interaction we had with our brethren. As already stated, Richard, Lori and I believe it was a prosperous journey. I will not, however, leave you out of the equation. I realize that you have been praying daily and for that I am profoundly grateful. Also, to each of you who ministered to Linda in any way I say THANK YOU. Lord willing, I will send this tomorrow.