CAMEROON STORIES

Fire!

Boko Haram, the terrorist group whose home turf was in Nigeria made its way into Northern Cameroon in 2013. Village by village it made its way to the city of Maroua forcing the Cameroonian government to close this Region to missionaries and ex-pats. The government did not want Boko Haram to kidnap foreigners and hold them for ransom under threat of death. We were already planning to leave Maroua and Cameroon because the government cancelled our temporary resident status and were not allowing us to appeal. Interestingly enough, one week after we left Maroua Boko Haram kidnapped a French family of seven who were visiting our Region.

This exit forced us to come up with another strategy for training our national house church pastors and church planters living and serving in the northern regions of Cameroon. Thus, the fledgling beginning of what we now call Regions In Need was put in motion. After returning to the States to regroup and rethink our mission strategy, I made a trip back to Cameroon to put this new plan to work.

Along with two of the young men I had trained and worked with while we lived in Cameroon, we traveled by the night train from Yaounde to Ngaoundere, a large Muslim city a few hours south of Maroua. This city was to be the meeting place where the house church pastors and church planters from Maroua and the other villages, towns, and cities in the north would meet with me for more training, encouragement, and to talk strategy.

The only place large enough to house our small convention of sorts was a school building, as God’s providence would have it, about 50 yards from a mosque full of very irate people who were very much upset with the fact that believers were meeting on their turf. Without alot of concern for how this was going to work itself out we began the training with around 70 in attendance. Soon, however, we were concerned. The mosque launched their first attack in the form of trying to drown us out using their loud speakers which they relied upon every morning to wake up the city of Ngaoundere with the Mulim call to prayer. Their powerful speakers made it almost impossible for me to be heard but we kept going. A couple hours later waves of people from the mosque began pouring into the meeting room—walking around, talking, and disrupting—but we kept on with our program. Finally, they left and the speakers were quiet.

We thought we had prevailed but then as I was speaking I noticed smoke starting to pour into the room from the open windows and then I saw the flames. Unhappy with the results of their first lines of attack, the people from the mosque came up with a new plan—they had heaped piles of dried grass up along the outside walls of our meeting room and set them on fire. At this point, I was wondering if maybe we should just wave the white flag and call it a day—but the men and women in front of me were not going anywhere. They just prayed, sat quietly, and asked me to continue with the training. They were not going to concede ground to Satan, the enemy of their souls and their Savior by letting his spiritually hard, blind, and captive people win this battle to silence the Gospel thereby silencing the only message that had the power to free them. More than that, they were not going to run from the fire so as to dishonor God’s Name before His enemies.

In the end, our prayers were answered. The building filled with smoke but did not catch fire. The training continued and after several hours of attacks the people from the mosque—weary, hungry, and thirsty—finally surrendered and went home leaving us in peace. More importantly, God’s Name was glorified as His people instead of running from the fire—remained for the glory of His Name and the gospel hope of those who set it.


Civil War (Jan 2019)

In 60 years of living, including 11 years as a street cop, I have only had guns pointed at me one time that I know of and that was last week in Cameroon while on a training trip to the Northwest Region village of Bambili. I can’t tell you how many guns because I could not see all the men surrounding my two companions and myself as we were making our way into the heart of Bambili Village to minister to a group of about 80 widows at Antioch Baptist Church. The men surrounding us were Anglophone Separatist rebel fighters who were also en route to Bambili to reinforce the rebels who had taken control of the village of about 15,000 people a few weeks earlier. They had seen us before we saw them and had quickly and quietly moved into position along a bush road hiding in the tall grass and trees. Once we got close enough they encircled us—still remaining concealed.

Initially, all we were aware of was a man with a gun who, stepping out of the grass behind us, ordered us to stop. Another armed man then appeared in front of us blocking our path. As the first man demanded to know who I was and why I was there Pastor Ezekiel, one of the pastors taking the training and the pastor of the church we were traveling to answered for me. He explained to the men that I was there to minister and speak to a very large group of widows that lived in the village. The rebel patrol did not believe this because, as they argued....”no missionary or pastor would have the courage to be walking on this road to Bambili Village at this time”. Therefore, I must be a spy—probably working for the French government which supports the Cameroon government. But finally, after much back and forth debate and ice-cold stares they relented, lowered their guns and allowed us to pass.

We did make it to the village church where we met with the widows some of whom were new believers and many more who were still held in the grip of their traditional false religions. I preached the Book of Ruth to them emphasizing that God, in Christ, offers hope to widows with no hope and a future to widows with no future. The message was received well and will be followed up by our national partners working in the village as church planters.

Once we said our good byes we made the hour long hike back to our school location to have supper and settle in for the evening before curfew. Shortly after it got dark I heard the sounds of gunfire and people running for cover not far from where we were. Inside the house, we all moved away from open windows for fear of stray bullets being fired by either army troops or rebels . Then everything was quiet. We went to sleep and woke up the next morning looking for yet more bullet holes in an already bullet riddled house. Such is the new Cameroon—a Cameroon that has slipped into civil war—that I experienced this past January (2019).


Escape (Feb 2016)

In the middle of February 2016 with only a month to go before leaving Cameroon so we could get Nancy back to the U.S. for surgery I decided to make one last hike into the mountains. Perhaps I’d run into one of my Fulbe Muslim friends or catch some of them at home in their mountain homes and be able to say good bye. This might also provide an opportunity to share the gospel with them one last time before we left our home in the village of Ngymbo.

A few miles into my hike I did run into a man but he was not a Fulbe. He stepped out of the tall grass growing along the road just as I was passing by and called for me to stop. Not expecting a problem I stopped to greet him and then was quickly surrounded by two more men. As these three men, all bigger than my 6’ 1” frame, surrounded me they grabbed me by my shoulders and arms so I could not get away. My protests over this treatment were ignored and my attempts to break free were not successful. Then I realized…..I was in trouble.

It wasn’t but a few minutes and the three men were joined by another man on a motorcycle. They wanted to force me onto the motorcycle in between the driver and another man behind me with a knife but all of a sudden someone on the hill above the road began yelling out my name, ”Pastor Mark—Pastor Mark”. It was a Fulbe man whom I never remember having met. As soon as my captors heard him yell they relaxed their grip on me as they looked at him and I was able to break free. Once free I ran down the road with the three men and the motorcycle in pursuit. Realizing I couldn’t outrun them I jumped off the road and headed into the thick dark over grown forest knowing they wouldn’t follow because they were animists who would be afraid of the “forest gods” they believed in.

Finally, after almost three hours and five miles of trekking through streams and over a couple mountains, I made my way out of the forest and into our village safe and sound—saved by a Fulbe Muslim whom I did not know but who apparently knew about me. I learned later that these men probably intended to kidnap and then transport me across the Cameroon-Nigerian border to hold me for ransom or sell me to the terrorist group Boko Haram. But, God had other plans for me for which I praise Him. I also praise Him for using an unknown (to me) Fulbe Muslim tribesman to give me the opportunity to slip away and escape from those who wanted to harm me.


My Trip To The Dentist (Maroua, Cameroon 2013)

Last Thursday afternoon I was getting hungry waiting for dinner so I grabbed a handful of peanuts, shoved them into my mouth, and started crunching vigorously. About three seconds into my munching, I chomped down on something a whole lot harder than any peanut I have ever encountered before. It was so hard, in fact, that it broke one of my molars. Turns out that one of those peanuts was not a peanut at all but actually a small brown stone that looked, to a 53 year old guy not wearing his glasses, like a peanut. Well what do you do in Africa when you have shattered the back end of one of your meat-chomping molars? You go to the dentist of course.

So the next day Fidele and I made the mile walk along a dusty makeshift road to whom I was told was the best dentist in our neck of the woods. As a plus, he had also attended dental school……somewhere. Once there we walked into a small waiting room and waited about half an hour. Then it was show time. Fidele explained to the dentist why I was there as the dentist speaks a blend of Fulfulde and French while I barely get by with English. The dentist motioned for me to get in a chair and then he went to work. Tilting my head back as far as I thought it could go, he motioned for me to open my mouth and then he proceeded to take a small silver hand tool with a point and stuck it into the gaping hole in my broken tooth. Not being tied down or otherwise restrained Fidele must have thought the rapture was occurring and he was being left behind as I must have risen a good three feet out of that chair. Of course the dentist being a non-dispensational Muslim and not having read the “Left Behind” series thought no such thing and after stuffing me back in the chair uttered something that sounded a lot like “Allah have mercy”. All of a sudden realizing that Americans don’t quite have the same pain threshold as Africans the dentist yelled something in Fulfulde to his assistant who resembled, to me without my glasses, the black version of Osama Bin Laden. Hoping he was instructing him to load up a shot with Novocain before heading back into my mouth I was surprised and really concerned when the assistant took a strategic position next to me so as to better restrain me as the dentist made his next approach. With one arm holding my head in a sort of headlock and the other manipulating the silver tool, he once again stuck it smack dab in the middle of my broken tooth causing me more pain than I have felt since passing a kidney stone 14 months, 28 days, 7 hours and 25 minutes ago (But hey who’s counting?). Finally, the dentist decided a shot of pain killer might leave less bruising, cause less trauma, and be less exhausting than having to keep me in a headlock. Whew, I was happy for that until I saw him loading up the shot. You see, every dentist I have ever been to in the States used these really tiny short needles when administering Novocain but this baby had to have been two to three inches or more. Anyway, with his assistant getting ready to grab a hold of my legs and the dentist putting me into another headlock he proceeded to threaten me with the hypo making motions for me to open my mouth. Wondering if the reason the needle was so long was because he might just run it through my cheek I submitted and the rest is history. I didn’t feel a thing after that. In fact, that one shot worked so well I couldn’t feel my nose or see out of my left eye for the rest of the day.

So what’s the moral to my story? Well, if you’re thinking it’s to avoid getting your dental work taken care of in Cameroon—it’s not. In fact, it’s been four days since my visit to the dentist and my tooth feels just fine. No, the moral is to watch out for counterfeits—whether they are rocks masquerading as peanuts, false teachers pretending to be preachers, or the fleeting, temporary, and fruitless pleasures of sin. The damage they will cause will be far greater than you ever thought possible and the pain experienced in dealing with and hopefully fixing the damage far greater, deeper, and possibly even more traumatic than you ever imagined.


The Move To Cameroon’s “Far North” (2012)

After weeks of preparation both spiritually and logistically we, the Waite family and our national partners—two brothers named Fidele and Parfait, began the long, hot, bumpy, slow, did I say "long", and ardious journey from the bush village of Ngyen Mbo to the city of Maroua in Cameroon’s Far North Muslim region. 

What was supposed to be a 470 mile drive over really bad, rough, rain-gutted and rutted roads actually turned out to be an 1150 mile drive due to bad directions, a mis-guided guide, an inaccurate map (because there are no accurate maps of Cameroon), and a detour due to sections of road completely immersed or just plain destroyed by rain.  We left the bush on an early Friday morning and arrived Tuesday evening.  Not bad for a little over a thousand miles.  We may have made it in on Tuesday morning had we not been stopped and detained at almost every police checkpoint along the way which, amounted to about 25.  You see, most of the police here make a little extra by stopping travelers and not letting them go without paying a small "token of appreciation" for driving in Cameroon.  We call this a bribe.  But, if you are of the sort who won't pay the bribe, as are we, then you have to wait until they get tired of you parked on the road in front of their checkpoint.  Other than the police, rough roads, the long unexpected detour, and getting hit and almost run off an enbankment by an SUV who hardly even noticed and didn't stop our trip was fairly uneventful.

Once in Maroua which is in the extreme north of Cameroon we stayed the night with Fidele's family.  The next day we moved into our rental and began settling into our Muslim quarter.  It is a nice house with running water and electricity.  Wow!  Who would have ever thought you'd see a bunch of white guys hooping and hollaring about running water and electricity?!  Of course, there are brown outs and black outs throughout the week and when the electricity goes so does the water.  So we still have to keep buckets of water around just in case.

Maroua is much hotter than Ngyen Mbo.  Last week our warmest day was 118.  This week it has cooled off some down into the 110 to 112 area.  The nights don't cool off much and with very little wind it makes for some challenging sleeping.  Just about the time you get to sleep, say around 0400, the Mosques all start their wake-up calls as they summon their faithful to the morning prayer service.  Living in a part of town surrounded by Mosques on all sides and only a few sandy blocks away makes this time of day pretty lively as the Imams, not so different than some of their Christian "pastor" counterparts, see who can put out the most lively and relevant chant so as to attract more Muslims from the other mosques.  We'd probably call that "goat-stealing".  

Once we're up and running, have spent some time with the Lord getting oriented for the day, eaten breakfast, and taken care of daily chores, Nance and the kids start their homeschooling routine while I meet with Fidele and Parfait to plan out our day of passing out tracts, evangelizing, visiting Fulbe villages, finding more villages to visit, going over plans for our missionary training school which starts in about three weeks, and canvassing the neighborhoods around us looking for "pre-sheep", that is those "other sheep" Jesus must and will bring to Himself according to John 10:16.  During the week I also teach Bible and Greek to my kids (can't neglect their spiritual training just because we are busy being missionaries) as well as review and discuss theology and Bible with Fidele and Parfait as they will be the main teachers of our school here.  

On Sundays we worship together with Fidele, Parfait, and another from their family.  Sometimes I preach while other times we listen to John Piper, John MacArthur or C.J. Mahaney.  Bethany, Rachael, and Parfait lead our worship time and then we all enjoy praying in English, French, Fulfulde, and even Tupuri.  

I usually take time out of every day to run 6 to 7 miles and a couple times a week ride my bike to some of the villages out of town.  As I run or ride I pray and look for opportunities to talk with and hand out Gospel literature to Muslims.  I meet many this way and as of yet have not had anyone refuse to take the literature.  While I am out running Nancy and the kids are making contacts with shop owners and people in our neighborhood.  They are all interested in why an American family has moved into their quarter.  

All-in-all, we are enjoying life in Maroua.  We are looking forward to our new school starting and to how God will use the students to further His work of reaching Muslims with the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Our role in this school is more that of watching and simply guiding as this work is in the final steps of being handed over completely to Fidele, Parfait, and other faithful men to now run.  By the way, our school down in Yaounde is doing very well with its first class of almost 20 students.

Well, I think this will do it for now.  I hope you get a better picture of what we are doing and how we are doing it.  Thanks for your prayers and please continue to pray for us.  We realize more now than we ever have before that nothing of eternal significance occurs apart from prayer. 

Persecution 

The following was written by M.D. Waite, who visited Cameroon in the Summer of 2012. This post is part of a series of posts entitled, “Cameroon Stories”. Names an places have been changed for safety precautions. Please enjoy.

“Adam, because you have become a Christian, you must choose between three punishments. We will take your cattle, or we will take your wife and children, or we will take your mountain compound.”

The Fulbe Chief over Adam’s family gave him this grave ultimatum. If Adam chose his cattle, his former Muslim brothers would seize his cattle and his way of supporting his family. If he chose his wife, they would take away from him his wife and granddaughters living with him, and separate his daughters from their own husbands. If he chose his compound, they would take his family’s home. Adam refused to recant, and took the time the Chief offered to think about these
consequences.

Adam, a former Muslim Imam, has been following Jesus instead of Muhammad for the last seven months, facing ridicule for this decision. This, however, was the first “official” Fulbe declaration of judgment for his embracing of Jesus Christ.

The Fulbe Chief who issued this declaration of punishment on Adam has no civil authority to do any of what he threatened; however, the threat is still a very real. This Fulbe Chief is using these scare tactics, wagering that the government will not step in and protect Adam. The Chief is abusing his authority in order to shame him into compliantly surrendering his family, cattle, or house.

My family has been discipling and working with Adam, and has encouraged him as he refused to deny the faith or his Lord. The challenge that my family, as missionaries, faces is guiding these brand new believers through suffering as Christians in a country where the government promises freedom of religion, but may or may not be able to secure it. The reality of the Chief’s threat caused Adam to transfer ownership of all of his cattle to his son, to protect them from seizure by the Fulbe.

After his meeting with the Chief, Adam went home to his family of new Christians, standing firm in the faith and trusting the Lord. The Fulbe Chief also returned to his home and two days later, found his eldest son mysteriously dead. In the African culture, the spiritual cause behind a person’s death is viewed as much more significant than the physical reason. The Chief is no doubt linking his threats of
God’s child, Adam, with the death of his own child.

While the ramifications of this persecution certainly affect the lives of Adam, his wife Eve, his granddaughters Sarah and Rachel, and the rest of his children, it is even further reaching. Adam has several Muslim Fulbe friends who have listened to his testimony and agreed that Jesus is better than Islam, but these men are not ready to publicly take a stand for fear of consequences. These Muslims are watching, studying Adam, his family, even the death of the Chief’s son, and especially the local church.

The bringing together of Christians raised in Christian homes with Christians raised in Islamic homes is no simple endeavor, in any country or culture. Some believers in Cameroon are even under the impression that Muslims can never be saved. However, one small local church whose pastor and several members attend the Bible institute my dad leads, is beginning to reach out to this family. This church lies
at the base of Adam’s mountain. We pray God will forge an eternal bond between his church at the base of and at the top of His mountain in the Cameroonian bush. We pray that the Muslims will see and take note of God’s people caring for one another in the fire of adversity.

As God unfolds Adam’s story and His redemptive story of the Fulbe people, pray with us for Adam and his family to persevere in their faith. Pray for the church partnering with them in their suffering. Pray for their persecutors. Pray for my family, as they encourage and help these believers.


A Fulbe Church Service

 

The following was written by M.D. Waite, who visited Cameroon in the Summer of 2012. This post is part of a series of posts entitled, “Cameroon Stories”. Names an places have been changed for safety precautions. Please enjoy.

The warm, sweet milk steamed from my plastic mug which warmed my fingers. Hard to fathom being cold in Africa in July. The rainy season rages during the summer months and brings with it cold, damp weather.

We had just made the 40 minute drive to the base of Adam’s mountain and then climbed the 45 minute brisk hike up his mountain. The dirt path up the mountain is dangerously slippery and has brought many a visiting hiker to his or her knees. Adam’s family, however, makes the climb with relative ease. . .in flip flops. Sharp blades of grass abound along the trail, often as tall if not taller than the average man, and cobras are a regular site.

Dad, Lucas, Faithful, Emmanuel, and I made it up the mountain and walked into Adam’s small Fulbe compound. Several months ago, Dad met Adam and shared Jesus with him. He was teaching my Dad the Fulfulde language, and after a month of lessons, Adam decided to follow Jesus and leave all of Islam behind. It is miraculous and a work of God Almighty that he embraced Jesus as his God, Lord, and Savior. Muslims in general and in Cameroon are particularly hard
toward the gospel and Adam was a Muslim Imam for several villages. When he embraced Christ, he resigned this prestigious office among his people and faced much ridicule from his former Muslim brothers. Former friends threatened to poison his family or burn his compound to the ground while they slept.

Adam has not left his new faith, but has rather led his children and grandchildren to the Lord, and they have followed. Eve, Adam’s wife, has deeply embraced Jesus with a fervent joy for her Savior.

Eve brought a pot of steaming, sweet milk with enough mugs for all of us who had made the cold climb. We sat in a bedroom adjacent to the kitchen. For a mud hut with a dirt floor, this house was very clean and comfortable. The Fulbe sweep their dirt floors which take on the appearance of concrete over the years.

Sarah, Adam’s granddaughter brought in a loaf of bread to go with our sweet milk. It was Sunday, and this was our weekly service with Adam’s family. We all sat around the bedroom, Adam sat on a stool in the doorway. Sarah, a thirteen year old girl who has joyfully turned to Jesus, led us in a Fulfulde song.
“My Lord Jesus He loves me so much! My Lord Jesus He loves me so much!”

Simple words, with a profound message, contrasted even more by the
fact that 10 months ago this entire family followed Muhammad with no concept of Jesus’ Lordship or love.

Emmanuel, the Cameroonian student whom my Dad is mentoring and training to become a leader in the work among the Fulbe, was responsible to lead the service. Teaching these baby believers the importance of relationship and fellowship with each other and with God is no simple task, when they only have a concept of Islamic worship. But these believers have the Holy Spirit and love Jesus, and He is working in them. Sarah declared to us that she would never marry a follower of Muhammad but only a follower of Jesus. This was something the Holy Spirit, not us, had taught this Fulbe believer.

After singing, Emmanuel asked Adam to open our time together in prayer. Adam prayed in Fulfulde, and then we turned to John 11. We listened to John 11 in Fulfulde, and then Emmanuel expounded on the chapter and explained it to this house church. Eve nodded over and over again that she understood and love what she heard. After his teaching, Emmanuel asked the group if they understood or had any questions. We concluded with prayer. Adam was fighting malaria, and we prayed for him. Sarah asked us to pray for our own sister Ray who could not be with us on the mountain because of a fever.

After prayer, we visited and fellowshipped with these precious saints. Adam told us that he had heard of our visit to Bobo 2 and how the Hajji had rejected us and the gospel. Adam shared with us that the Muslims in the area were upset with him and were now calling him a “Pastor” because of his sharing about Jesus. Adam gave two copies of the Gospels of Luke and John away to Muslim acquaintances and said
“Test these books! They are true.” Sarah told us that she was glad to follow Jesus and wants to follow him for the rest of her life.

The Lord calls forth His people through His gospel and suffering, and the reward of these wonderful believers did not come with out a cost. Our Lord suffered for them, and has received the reward of his suffering in these precious possessions of His. On a much lesser scale, though still real, my family members in Cameroon have suffered to bring about the gathering of these believers. The leaving of family and children, facing health trials from the living conditions of West Africa, threats from angry Muslims, weekly climbs up dangerous mountain trails, and the daily struggles of operating in a completely foreign culture are some of the trials that the Lord has used in my family to bring about their valuable ministry on Adam’s mountain.

The work of missions is only romantic in biographies and sermons, not in real life. The work of overseas, frontier missions is comparable to a deployment to a warzone and should be viewed as such by the church. Christ’s kingdom advances through the preaching of the gospel, the blood of those called to die for the gospel, and the sweat of those called to live for the gospel.

Pray for Adam and his family and the church the Lord is forging deep in enemy territory. Pray for the workers God has called to suffer and claim His loved ones.


Visit To Baba Tu

The following was written by M.D. Waite, who visited Cameroon in the Summer of 2012. This post is part of a series of posts entitled, “Cameroon Stories”. Names an places have been changed for safety precautions. Please enjoy.

First Visit: Introductions

We hiked up Baba Tu, because the failing truck transmission couldn’t handle the steep climb and heavy load in the back. 15 people inside the cab and in the bed of the Dodge was just too much. We parked the truck and walked the final mile up the washed-out gravel road. Our destination was Baba Tu, the Fulbe compound sharing the same name as the mountain. A friend had warned us before departing that Baba Tu was a village serious about Islam and devoted to Muhammad. The 80 year
old patriarch of the village was devout enough to have even made the hajj—the pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia—earning the Muslim title “Hajji”. We expected the village would be hard towards the gospel, yet hospitable and friendly towards us their guests, seeing as how the eldest son of the Hajji had invited us.

 

Dad had met and become friends with Yusif, the eldest son, in Bamenda. Yusif invited Dad to bring his family and friends up the mountain for a visit. And this is what we planned to do for this day. Our team consisted of Dad, Mom, my 4 siblings, 5 visiting American pastors and friends, 4 young Cameroonian evangelists (Faithful, Watchman, Emmanuel, and Hopeful), and myself.

Reaching the top of the last steep hill, we turned right onto a muddy cow trail that led to the village. We stepped lightly, avoiding cow pies and mud filled potholes. In spite of this, seeing the village through the trees was a beautiful site. Six mud structures, with wooden roofs, made up the Hajji’s compound and the main center for all of his son’s outlying houses on the mountain. Two of Hajji’s sons, met us and welcomed us into the village. They quickly and hospitably escorted us to the center building and meeting room for the village. The meeting room in this building was plain, all mud walls, not larger than 20 feet by 20 feet. Couches and benches lined the walls. One
lone coffee table stood next to the prominent couch along the center of the rear wall. Perched above this seat were calendars from years past, with colorful pictures—the only decorations in the room.

Hajji, wearing a tan robe, and white hat, entered in, following 20 children. He greeted us warmly, “Ouseco! Ouseco! (Welcome! Thankyou!)”
For the next five to ten minutes we sat and smiled at the Fulbe in the room, while Hajji’s sons gathered the rest of the village to come and greet us. We were the first group of “White Men” to have ever entered the village. The Fulbe do not disdain what we call “awkward silence” in the States, but rather embrace it. We sipped our water and talked amongst ourselves, and then smiled and tried to make small
conversation with Hajji. He had a large and ready smile, and the grey stubble on his face was longer than the hair on his head.

The rest of the village, including the Islamic teacher called a Malum, crowded into the meeting room. Then we began introductions. I stood up and greeted the village and introduced the visiting pastors and friends from America. I explained that we had come to visit Bobo 2 because we loved Muslims, and because God loves Muslims. I said, “God wants you to know about Isa (Jesus), and so we have come to serve you and tell you about Isa.” Watchman and Faithful, two of the Cameroonian believers with us, whom my Dad is training and discipling, translated for us and sought permission to provide medical help to the children in the village. Hajji granted us permission, and this is where we began. We all left the meeting room. Mom and Joel, one of the American visitors, began the medical checks. The rest of us visited with the villagers. After 30 minutes, everyone reassembled into the cramped meeting room. Children sat on the floor. Old men sat in chairs in the corner. Women wearing vibrant and colorful Fulbe dresses sat on benches. While some had heard the gospel before in school or in the city, this was the first proclamation of the gospel inside the borders of this mountain village.

In an effort to let the Cameroonian believers lead in the discussion of spiritual things in the villages, my dad has trained them to be the ones who do the preaching. This, Faithful and Watchman did with great fervor, proclaiming the way of the Lord. Although I did not understand the Pigeon English and Fulfulde being spoken in the meeting room, I could see in the faces of the older men a great disdain for the message. In fact, in the middle of the time together, Hajji and the Malum stood up and told us it was time for them to pray. They excused themselves. Faithful and Watchman continued. We listened and prayed. Shortly after, the younger men explained in a gentler tone that they too needed to leave and pray. They told us before leaving that they would discuss our message with the older men and bring back a response to our teaching after they prayed. We waited in the meeting room, while the seven Fulbe men, washed themselves and began to pray to their false god. All of us had felt the hardness of their hearts during the message and now eagerly waited and watched them outside following the Malum in their prayers. Dad gathered us to pray together for this village, as they themselves prayed. “May the Lamb have the reward of His suffering”, he prayed.

Ten minutes later, the men gathered back together in the room. Everyone took their seats. The younger men who could speak English, spoke on behalf of their elders, inviting us to return to the village. We felt a drastic change of attitude in these men. The Malum was smiling, something he had not previously done. The explained that they had been Muslims for a long time and would need time to consider the claims of Jesus. They clearly invited us to return and share more about Jesus and the gospel.

That day, we left as friends, encouraged and glad to have seen a change in the hard hearts of these Muslims. We departed shortly after this, in order to escape torrential rain quickly approaching the mountain. Fatima, a 13 year old girl carrying her baby brother, walked with us from the compound down the muddy cow trail. Before leaving she told us that she followed Jesus. We were delighted and asked her about this. She explained that she also followed Muhammad. We explained to Fatima that Jesus and Muhammad are walking in two different and opposed directions, and that she could really only follow one. She understood, yet she was still willing to try following both. We prayed with Fatima and then left Baba Tu.

“Visit to Baba Tu”
Copyright 2012 MD Waite


Second Visit To Baba Tu

The following was written by M.D. Waite, who visited Cameroon in the Summer of 2012. This post is part of a series of posts entitled, “Cameroon Stories”. Names and places have been changed for safety precautions. Please enjoy.

Second Visit: Rejection
Two weeks after our first encounter with the village Baba Tu, our team
decided to make good on their previous invitation and pay them another
visit. Our American visitors had left but my brother, an Army
Medic, had now arrived in Cameroon for his first time. We wanted to
introduce him to the village and let him help with further medical
checks of the children. We decided that on this visit we would take
fewer people and use motorcycles instead of trying to get the truck up
the steep mountain again. We had our two motorcycles and called on a
motorcycle taxi driver named Moses, who was actually from Baba Tu. The
night before, he happily agreed to meet us at our house the next day
and take a passenger or two on the hour drive up his mountain.

We awoke and began preparing for our trip, only to receive a phone
call from Moses saying he could not take us up the mountain, offering
us no reasonable explanation. We decided that 3 of the Cameroonian
students (Faithful, Watchman, and Emmanuel) with Mama, Brother and I would
still make the trip with our two motorcycles.

Faithful drove his bike with Watchman and myself as his passengers.
Emmanuel drove the other bike with Mama and Brother riding behind him. We
left early and had limited time to make this trip because the rain
consistently falls in the afternoon, making the roads treacherous for
motorcycles with 3 people riding. It was a beautiful morning and we
had a pleasant ride, affording time for prayer before reaching the
village. I thought about Fatima, the young girl who had told us she
wanted to follow Jesus, but also followed Muhammad. I prayed for her,
and for the rest of the village, that Christ would work there.

We reached the village and two of Hajji’s sons were herding cows along
the trail. They greeted us and welcomed us. They pointed us towards
the village and one walked with us part of the way to the compound.
Neither of them would walk us into the village, however. We entered
the village, and greeted Hajji and all of the children who came
running around us smiling.

We began the formalities, entering the meeting room and waiting for
the people to gather. Hajji came and sat right next to me, smiling
and greeting us. Then he stood up and left. One of his grandsons,
Saif, a young man in his twenties was the only man present and so by
default he represented the village. After a few minutes, he politely
told us that no one else would be coming so we should begin our
program. I explained to Saif, the children, and the few women
present that we had returned to bring my brother to check on the
health of the children, and that we desired to share more of Isa
(Jesus) with them. The people gathered received this well, though
Hajji was no where to be seen. The adults quickly instructed the
children to go outside for Mama and Brother to check them and treat them.
Brother helped a new born baby with a horrible rash all over her body.
Mama treated a young girl with pink eye. We brought several
toothbrushes and toothpaste to give away too.

While this was going on, Saif took me for a walk around the
compound. He showed me the cows and horses that Hajji owned, a sign
of the man’s relative wealth by Fulbe standards. He pointed out his
father’s compound up the mountain a little way from his grandfather’s.
Saif also asked me to get him to America. I explained I came to
help his village and tell them about Jesus, but that I was not in a
position to take him to America. This disappointed him, but it led to
a conversation about Jesus and the gospel.

“Jesus came to take people to God the Father, not to take people to
America and give them money.” I said.

Saif listened to the gospel from me without expressing offense. He
listened and asked for a Bible in Fulfulde, which I said I would give
him before I left. We then walked together to where the rest of the
group was and he began talking to Watchman, who is fluent in Fulfulde.
They went over the gospel again.

While they discussed Jesus, Faithful pulled me aside and had bad news to
share. While I was visiting with Saif, Hajji had spoken to Watchman
in private and had told him, “If you are here to convert these children to another religion, I do not want you coming back to our village!”

Watchman said to Hajji, “We are not here to preach a religion about a
relationship with God through Jesus Christ.”

“STOP! Do not preach the gospel to me! I want you to leave and do not
want you to come back,” said Hajji.

Faithful and I discussed this and decided that it would be best to wrap
up our medical checks, say goodbye to Hajji and express our love for
the village. Hajji’s attitude toward Watchman did not make sense to
me, because he had been very friendly and cordial to me. . .at least
to my face. I realized that by his cultural honor code, he had to be
this way to me the American visitor. He expressed his true feelings to
Watchman, a Cameroonian. Watchman and I walked up to Hajji’s house
and called out that we were leaving and wanted to say goodbye. Hajji
came out with a friendly attitude and shook my hand, holding it in his
for a moment as he thanked me. “Ouseco! Ouseco!” He walked over
with us and thanked Brother for his work with the children. Hajji asked
Brother if he had a medication he could use for an illness. We did not
have the medicine but offered to bring some on our next visit. Hajji
cordially made it clear he did not want us to come again even with the
medication.

“Goodbye.” We waved to the children, and I spoke with Fatima before
we left. Saif said he would like to come and visit us, and I
invited him anytime. I also invited Saif to come and visit us too
with her cousin Saif. She said she wanted to and said she had been
thinking about what we had told her last time about following Jesus.

We hopped on the motorcycles and made the long drive back home. I had
plenty of time to think and pray on the ride back. A lot made sense
now as to why Moses would not drive us to Bobo 2, and why the men were
not available during our meeting. Hajji had made the decision that
Jesus and his gospel were not welcome in Baba Tu. Jesus went to Bobo 2
anyway.

When the gospel goes forth, it will either soften hearts or harden
hearts. For some in Baba Tu, the gospel is softening their hearts, and
we pray that Jesus is calling them forth as his possession. For some
it is hardening them, and they are now responsible for hearing the way
of salvation and rejecting it. Pray for Baba Tu.


Cameroon Stories: ABCs Of Cameroonian Transportation 

The following was written by M.D. Waite, who visited Cameroon in the Summer of 2012. This post is part of a series of posts entitled, “Cameroon Stories”. Please enjoy.

The ABCs of Cameroonian Public Transportation
A – Airports
Navigating Cameroonian Airports closely resembles navigating the
Memphis Zoo. . .at night . . .with all the animal cages open. I think the Zoo would
be easier. Walking and talking obstacles abound who would quickly
take advantage of the foreign visitor were it not for the careful
watch care of our good Cameroonian friends.

The adventure begins once you step out of the car in the short term,
airport parking. As soon as white skin is exposed to onlookers, the
street merchants and hopeful job-seekers descended upon us like hungry
vultures. Keeping track of suitcases becomes a full time job while
unpacking a large groups’ luggage. The job-seekers will just come up
and grab the suitcase from you if you’re not careful. Only after will
they demand outrageous payment for their services.

When we secured all bags out of the car and made it out of the parking
lot, and up the stairs, a huge crowd of people waits across the street
busy with taxis and motorcycles. Crossing the street proves to be
like crossing the Nile, dodging crocodiles and hippos who refuse to
stop or even slow down for pedestrians.

Finally, across the street, the real fun begins. Pushing and shoving
our way through the crowd, who refuse to willing move out of the way,
we finally came to the airport. Once inside, the scene is not much
different than outside. Fresh merchants now fall on the already tired
traveling prey. After telling these salesmen, eager for a deal, “NO”,
we look for the airline check in counters.

Before reaching the airline check in counters, visitors must first
negotiate with police at a security check point. This check point is
less for security, and more for an alternate source of income for the
officer on shift. For our guide to enter with us through the gate,
the officer demanded he personally keep and safeguard the man’s ID
card. Afterwards, the officer demanded this man give a gift for this
painstaking task.

After checking in, the traveler proceeds through security, but first
must pay a $20 fee to leave the zoo.

B – Busses
Yesterday, I left Douala for Bamenda at 10:20 A.M. on the 8 o’clock
bus. The bus driver loads his 40 passenger’s suitcases, bags,
barrels, and chickens on top of the 20-seater bus. Well, actually all
the driver does is turn on the bus and watch while his crew loads bags
and people onto and into the bus. The question of the day from Crew
Member # 1 was, “Are there 5 or 6 people sitting in that row of 4
seats?”

The clock strikes 9; the bus is running, the bags are packed, the
driver is nowhere to be seen. He is bound by honor to leave his
passengers seated in the bus in order for street vendors to each have
at least three chances to solicit each passenger into a purchase.
These vendors are the closest thing to next day delivery from Amazon
that you will see in Cameroon, bringing their wares directly to the
bus window. They have everything you could imagine (and more) wanting
on a six hour bus ride. Purses, toothbrushes, belts, sunglasses,
grocery bags, t-shirts, and jeans, are just some of the wares.

After giving his merchant-amigos the chance to make a bargain, the
driver returns to his bus, beeps the horn several times, and then
disappears again. Even though every seat in the bus is filled with
one person, and sometimes two, there always seem to be stragglers, off
visiting with a complete stranger. After hearing the beep, these
stragglers enter the bus to the great dismay of all. The process of
fitting multiple rear ends into limited seats begins, but never fear,
Cameroonians are excellent at Tetris!

Finally, everyone is seated, and the driver returns. In the back
seat, an old man in a robe is holding a chicken in his lap. It is 90
degrees outside and the man next to me is wearing a winter jacket. A
woman is standing by the bus door, and begins to preach to us:
“Brothers and Sisters, I greet you in the name of the Lord Jesus
Christ and wish you a safe journey. . .now you must look at my cook
book, buy it, and be blessed.”
The driver pulls out of the bus station.

This is going to be a typical bus ride in Cameroon.

C – Cycles
Motorcycles are the bread and butter of internal Cameroonian public
transportation. Operating 24/7, these motorcycle taxi gangs, are
always aiming to get one more person or object on their 150 cc bike.
I have seen several impressive displays of “motorcycleship” including,
one guy who had a broom handle across his handlebars with 12 dead
chickens all hanging from their heads. Another feat was the
motorcycle taxi carrying no passengers but rather having another
motorcycle tied onto it and hanging over the rear wheel. One
passenger is amateur for these professionals who frequently carry two
to three adult passengers, not including the children they hold in
between them and the handles. Perhaps the most death defying ride was
the one where the cyclist had two passengers and was carrying a 20
foot ladder. They placed their heads through the rungs of the ladder
so as to see and keep control of their lengthy cargo.

The cyclists all like to decorate and name their bikes. Various names
include “God Save Us”, “Plan with God”, and “Obama”. Decorations
include customized and colorful shin guards, and upside down American
flags. The upside down flags is less out disrespect and more from
ignorance.

These drivers can be cutthroat to the unaware pedestrian. They are
known to simply run over walkers who may be in their way. The
transportation food chain is aggressive in Cameroon, because cars are
known to run over motorcycles who may stray into their path.

All in all, cycles are a breath of fresh air to the Western traveler
making use of them in Cameroon.


Cameroon Stories: Horse, It's Whats For Dinner

The following was written by M.D. Waite, who visited Cameroon in the Summer of 2012. This post is part of a series of posts entitled, “Cameroon Stories”. Please enjoy.

Walking into the kitchen, I saw the right rear leg of Trigger, the aged horse. There it lay, draped in a faded and frayed white sheet on the cold tile floor. Mere hours before, a friend had slain Trigger and skillfully used a machete to butcher and quarter his body. This honored leg now found its rest, sharing its fragrance with us all. Our friend honored us by giving us this prime and large cut of horse flesh. Trigger’s hard and now brown back leg muscles flexed with the fur and skin peeled away. Flies circled the clumps of hair and dried blood still stuck to the sheet. “Horse, it’s what’s for dinner!”
Such is kitchen life in Cameroon, Africa for my mom and three younger sisters.

When the African Sun rises above the hills and mango trees, Mamma,
and the girls have already been awake for an hour. There are no microwaves, toasters, or dishwashers in Mbengo, Cameroon, but there are several mouths to feed. There are refrigerators, but the power is out often enough that the fridge is more like an airtight cupboard, than a refrigerator. Well, not even airtight because ants have found their way in. The closest thing to a supermarket is the village Bar, a five minute walk down the road. In between the bottles of beer, the owner stashes butter, eggs, and a jar or two of Tartina (the Cameroonian version of Nutella). All of this poses unique and sometimes overwhelming challenges.

Acquiring more substantial groceries means a 45 minute drive into the town of Bali. In Bali, Mamma goes to her friend Janet’s Mercantile. Janet’s closely resembles the country store in Little House on the Prairie. Janet stands behind the counter and gets her customers what they order. In Cameroon though customers mingle with drunk, bar patrons, and lines are nonexistent. We, “the White Men” as we are
called just have to walk up to the counter, say hi, and give our order.

All the groceries, including the dozens of eggs, are nicely packed into extra small, black plastic bags. The store owner then offers the customer the privilege of purchasing larger grocery bags, which in most cases is a good idea.

Preparing the groceries is the more grueling and time consuming task.

Armed with an arsenal of hunting knives, cast iron pots, a miniature propane oven, a red tea kettle, and mixing bowels, our kitchen team fights three main battles per day. The ladies make the task of baking three loaves of bread from scratch look easier than me driving to Walmart and going through the checkout line. In a world where there’s no ice and the fridge doesn’t work, keeping meat cold poses opportunities for ingenuity. For example, one night, to keep the beef for the next day cold, we packed three bottles of cold Coke around it. I’m pleased to say that you should not try this at home because it did not work, and the German Shepherd enjoyed a nice, warm steak in the morning.

Daily chores involve going to the well and drawing bucket after bucket of water to fill the 50 gallon water barrel in the corner of the kitchen. In the rainy season with muddy feet, the team scrubs the blue tile floor with a towel and squeegee at least twice a day. Boiling water to pour through the coffee pot with a broken automatic
drip mechanism is also an essential part of life during this season with more wet than dry.

In this world of a literal “daily bread” food preparation, the joys of kitchen duty can overwhelm a person. With all the mangos you can eat growing in the backyard, and with fresh horse meat, what more could a chef ask for? Thank the Lord for the skilled women in my life who tirelessly amaze us meal after meal under Cameroon cooking conditions.

Presently, a hen is walking around the garage, waiting to offer itself for dinner. It will first make a six hour bus drive in a basket with our team.

The end.

P.S. Trigger tasted like an old chicken.