WOW, I can’t believe it has been 3 months since we returned from our time in Yaoundé, Cameroon. John and I have had a chance to debrief and assess our time in Africa. It is amazing that just a year ago a small team met in Yaoundé to explore the possibility of opening an extension of BEST in Cameroon. The Lord had given Nupanga a vision of expanding BEST into other French-speaking countries-the coup in Bangui just brought it to the forefront.
In October, John and I were invited to be a part of an international team meeting in Yaoundé where the vision of Best was cast, the goals set, and the steps necessary to accomplish the task. John and I were then asked to head up the project by getting the school operational by March 2014. This meant getting everything ready, i.e., the building prepared, classrooms, offices, furniture, supplies, and internet etc. for classes to begin March 3rd. After spending time in prayer seeking God’s guidance, John and I agreed and left for seven weeks in January.
We had the tables made by a local Cameroonian, purchased chairs, office desks, computers, printers, curtains and the internet hooked up, just about everything necessary for classes and professors. There is even a designated room for the library but the books are still in Bangui. Please pray for peace and security in C.A.R. The books cannot be transported until the road from CAR to Cameroon is open and safe to travel.
We were so encouraged when Bob and Kathy, Bill, Dennis and Willie arrived to help us. What an amazing team they were. One of the men was a painter by trade and the other had his own handy man business. This team just looked to see what had to be done and did it. As a team we bonded quickly and had a lot of fun working together. Some of the doctoral students came and pitched in washing floors and walls and doing whatever was needed. What a wonderful opportunity to build relationships, hear stories of their faith in Christ and work side by side for the sake of the gospel.
John’s highlight was seeing God’s provision-in less than a year the vision of Yaoundé came to fruition. We appreciate that God would see fit to use us to accomplish His purposes. It is also incredible to think how God prepares us way in advance for serving Him. John had been a building facilities manager for years at Comcast and now in his retirement he is using those skills to serve the Lord in Africa.
Lamentations 3:22 “The Lord’s loving kindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” This was a verse that was near and dear to me while we were there. It helped me through many times when I wondered “why am I here?” But I would awake in the morning with a renewed mind, fresh outlook and realize God’s faithfulness and compassion. God would remind me that He desires us to serve Him, obey Him and trust Him in all areas of our life.
Now as we look back we see God’s hand in everything-teaching us, enabling, guiding, protecting us and drawing us closer to Him.
For every frustration-God encouraged us-through His word, a sermon or a missionary.
For every challenge that seemed almost insurmountable at the time-God conquered those challenges.
For every roadblock early on-God removed them.
For every trial-God gave joy.
For the difficulties of daily living in a 3rd world country-God gave us laughter AND a whole new appreciation for missionaries and the daily struggles and challenges they face, not to mention cultural differences.
For every learning experience in cultural differences-God granted mercy and opened our eyes and mind.
He reminded us that He made each one of us unique and He loves our differences but desires that our differences be meshed together. God taught us how to balance our time to complete the work necessary in a culture where relationships take priority over timelines.
Sometimes we are slow learners. God reminded us that this was God’s project not ours, His timing not ours and without Him we can do nothing.
I think the highlight for me, Marilyn, was our last day when the students had arrived from their various countries. What inexplicable joy to see them reunited, laughing together, excited to be there, and to see a deep seated joy in spite of the pain and suffering they experienced and the horrific events they lived through in CAR. Praise the Lord a missionary in Yaoundé held a Trauma Recovery class for all the students and staff. Many students have left their families behind so they can complete their studies, graduate and return to their families, their countries, their churches and their ministry serving our Lord. These dear pastors and brothers and sisters in Christ seek to share the gospel of Christ to those living in darkness. As I observed and spoke with them I was overcome with joy and deeply humbled by their steadfast faith.
Thank you for your faithful prayers. It was your prayers that carried us through many days. John has been asked to go to Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo to search for a location for BEST’s expansion into that country. Prayers for a successful and safe trip would be appreciated.
Thank you again for your partnership in prayer.
Love in Christ,
John and Marilyn