Yesterday was the most encouraging joy that we have had since coming to Cameroon in 2014. It started by going to a Kwakum church in a different village. The pastor has been our language partner for a number of years and since we’ve started Oral Bible Storying, has been our right-hand man. We usually attend his church a couple times a month and walk away discouraged because he preaches works salvation and often his teachings are far removed from the text of Scripture.
However, this Sunday he stood up and from memory recited all of Genesis 3 and then preached THE TEXT. He learned the passage at our last OBS workshop and then taught what it actually said to the people in his church.
Just that morning we had all received word that a young man from that village had been hit and killed by a hit-and-run driver. By the time his sermon was over, everyone in the crowded living-room said that they understood that death had its origin at the Fall. Death was a promise for every one of us and it was something to accept (even the death that took place a few hours earlier).
This teaching cuts against typical Prosperity Theology which says that death and suffering are a result, not of the Fall, but instead of a lack of faith. There was a joy in this crowded living room as adults and young people encountered the truth. The thorns that they deal with every day (I currently have cuts on my hands from them), women screaming in childbirth, and the gravestones that are in their front yards now all make sense: “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). They understand that sin leads to death.
I had a professor on college, Brad Buser, who said that his greatest ambition was to appear before King Jesus with a tribe of people in order to present them to Jesus as an offering of love. I see this same heart in Paul who said,
For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy. – 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20
As I sat there listening to this Kwakum pastor and friend (Bosco) preach the Word of God in Kwakum, this passage summed up perfectly how I felt. Bosco, you are my glory and joy.
Then this good day just got better when Bosco advertised the few literacy materials that we have put out. We still haven’t started formal literacy classes and yet the two small books that we have published sold out almost immediately after I put them on the shelves. The 20 people that come to OBS each weekend go back to their respective villages and sell the literacy materials, explain to people how the alphabet works, and then come back to tell me that they need more things to sell because the demand is so high.
Yesterday at church was no exception. Bosco opened a literacy book and read the simple story to the people. My goal is to have people able to read at a high enough level to understand the first New Testament book when it comes out. The zeal with which my Kwakum colleagues are taking, buying, and selling literacy materials is simply an answer to prayer. I can’t make this people motivated to read, but God can. I have been praying for years that they would want to learn to read and write and God has produced that desire in their hearts. I have little children come to the Kwakum literacy and translation center and literally beg me to teach them to read. They say,
“Aunt Stacey. We want to learn! We want to grow in our intelligence! Please teach us how to read!”
I am simply in awe at people’s interest. Again, this is my glory and joy.
Finally, the day ended with a young couple coming over our house to talk about marriage. I have never seen or heard of a marriage taking place among the Kwakum since we have moved here. And yet, this young man (Koo) has started coming to OBS workshops and has started to learn the Bible. His girlfriend, Mami, and I have been studying the Bible together for about a year. They are living together, but have learned in Genesis 2:24 that God’s design is for a man to “leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh”. They came over because they want to follow God’s design. We talked last night about what it means to leave one’s family for the sake of marriage (which can be a difficult thing to do in this culture). Both Koo and Mami said that if that is what the Bible says, then that is what they wanted to do. Koo asked at the end of our time together about a cultural practice among the Kwakum in dealing with marriage. He said,
“I know what our culture says, but I don’t care what it says. I want to know what the Bible says. I want to know if this practice is a sin against God.”
Less than a year ago, this same man was beating Mami and couldn’t hold a job due to anger issues. Now, he is often seen bouncing infants on his knee and giving up his seat in church for women (this is VERY counter-cultural). He and Mami plan to come back every week to talk about what the Bible says about marriage and say that they want to get married before the Lord for all to see. They are my glory and my joy.
I do not know what to say other than that the Lord seems to be pouring out his Spirit on our ministry. The other day my son asked me if I would want to be President of the United States and I told him that my current job was way more important. I am so thankful to be a part of Kingdom ministry in this place and am so thankful for the abundant joy that comes from the Lord richly blessing our labors. We are only on chapter 3 in Genesis and already the Lord is visibly at work through his Word. To God be the glory.