“The erstwhile Minister of External Relations, Jean Marie Atangana Mebara, who was sacked from government on September 7, has joined his colleague, Polycarpe Abah Abah, in the Faculty of Protestant Theology at Djoungolo Yaoundé as student pastor”
This act of ex ministers accused of serious crimes against their countries going to seminaries did not start today. After the Rwandan genocide many ex ministers ran to other countries and enrolled into theological colleges or seminaries. To some it may be a time of ablution due to their doppelganger while to others it seems a camouflage to solicit public sympathy. It is the zeitgeist nowadays that can easily win civic empathy. Even the US where the rule of law is very strong, public opinion could influence a case like was the case of Marjorie Knoller and her husband, Robert Noel. There is a fear public opinion may influence the government’s decisions against them. There are many questions asked by the public: should they be admitted? Should they be forgiven, should they be allowed into the school but not be accepted as ministers and many other questions. However, what does the Bible say?
The case study would be the example of Zacchaeus (Lk 19:1-10).
Zacchaeus was a Jewish Tax collector working for the Romans. He overtaxed the people for his own good. But one day he received Jesus into his life. To prove his repentance he gave half of his wealth to the poor and those that he defrauded he restituted to them four times. While one scripture or passage does not make a doctrine however, the said principle is frequent in the Bible. Restitution is a predilection theme in the bible (Ex 22:1; Num 5:7; 2 Sam 4:6) because God prefers a contrite spirit so that he would show mercy and not sacrifice (Mt 9:13). That is why Jesus was sent to save the lost sheep (Mt 15:24; 18: 11; I Tim 1:15). Jesus did not come to call righteous people to repentance but sinners (Lk 5:32). Therefore, there is nothing bad for them going into the seminaries.
However, even if they repented should they be forgiven for all the embezzlement they committed? Are you sure they have truly repented? Though it is impossible to read people’s minds from their faces one can at least infer from their actions. If they were convicted of any crime then let the rule of law prevails. If they have not been indicted, charged, and convicted of any crime it is wrong for the public to cry for sentencing. People have to realize that public opinion may influence the conviction of an innocent person. Since they are ex-ministers and rich, people feel convinced they embezzled. Then their case falls within Zacchaeus’ antecedency. Zacchaeus was never convicted but the people knew he had cheated them. These ex ministers have never been convicted of embezzlement but people feel they embezzled. It is a terrible thing to carry the blood of innocent people on your hands. Nonetheless, since they are going through this soul lavation people will be convinced to trust them if they put their repentance and confession into concrete terms by giving half of their ill-gotten wealth to the poor and to restore four times to the people they cheated. That is again if they embezzled.
Nonetheless, there are cases where restitution could be impossible. If you premaritally slept with someone’s daughter or killed their father; though you cannot restitute the sex you had or the father you killed still, you can alleviate their pain with financial and moral compensation.
It is morally wrong for anyone to refuse their repentance or worst still stigmatize them. The problem today with the world is that we never forgive. The circle of spite is what breeds civil and factional wars in Africa and other places. It is what destroys homes. Once your partner confesses their sins and shows fruits of repentance you must accept and restore them knowing that all humans are sinners and guilty of one sin or the other. As such, ex ministers Polycarpe Abah and Jean Marie Atangana Mebara should be allowed into the seminary. After completion of their studies they should be integrated as pastors according to the transfer rules of the school.
The prophets that God called were not perfect people. The disciples that Jesus selected were not ab avo righteous. Saul of Tarsus was a murderer before becoming a minister of the Lord. Many people in the ministry today committed one or two heinous crimes before they were called into the ministry. The God we serve is not a God of three strikes you are out but one of 490 chances as long as we repent. If we learn to forgive the people we deal with daily, each time they confess and forsake their sins then the society will prosper with peace that will surpass the one from toys and entertainment.
Until then, I wish them well in this noble profession.
Prince & PA Hamilton Ayuk