Thursday, February 26, 2009

True Friendship

My friend asked me to write a story on true friendship and I felt the best one would be about my best friend and I. We met in Full Gospel Tsinga church, solidified our friendship while in CLUC and living together. When my term in A2 Ngoa Ekelle hostel was up, I moved to Bonamoussadi to join him. Coming I brought along another friend Njoh Divine (who is now a pastor too). We (especially Divine) disagreed 90% of the time on doctrinal issues.
Other than our doctrinal differences we never had problems. There was an entente that we would close our ears to rumors and slanders about us. Envious people who knew we were like bone and marrow did not like that. I was a leader in church and both of them were not. I was a young leader; in fact the youngest of all the deacons and elders in those days. My detractors felt that they could use him as a bridge to the youths to dwindle my influence. But he refused to be cowered into being a turncoat. Each time they made their bundles of fabrications to him our friendship bailed me out. Take note: constant communication was our secret. He and I went to the field to pray every morning and other youths later joined us. The gendarmes picked us up twice while interceding there. Our greatest yearning was to trust each other always.
Benjamin is stooping beside me on the left front row with one leg in the hole. I am stnding by his side with a blue pant during one of our university leaders' retreat.
When he graduated from Ngoa Ekele, he went home to live as a farmer because he could not find work. It broke my heart! The day I was preaching, I rebuked the church for neglecting young people like him. An Elder: Claude Tchamda volunteered to help me financially too. Immediately I cashed in on my first job, I took the salary and went to bring him back. I did not tell him I was coming and had never been to his village before. I bought a bag of salt and carried some other necessary things that his mother will need when he left for the city. We then left for the city but not as Absalom Kumalo.
He buoyed my confidence as a trustworthy friend who defended me in truth though we had philosophical differences when I fantasized having him back in town. He was very faithful. His village does not have a motorable road so one would have to walk for at least three hours. You caught a car from Yaoundé to Bot Makak. Then you walked to Mbonde: his village. I asked the driver and he told me that it was just a stone throw. I did not know it was an understatement. After Bot Makak, I walked for one hour but did find the place. I asked the next villager who told me in French “C’est ne pas loin. Continue à marcher et des que tu traverse la petite rivière tu serais déjà la". By this time I was sweating from the weight of the salt and the other bags I had all over me. Villagers inquired whether I was going to pay the dowry because in their tradition one of the things you need to knock the door of a lady’s parents is a bag of salt. I told them I was going to see a friend who lives in Mbonde. Darkness threatened and the rain menaced. Don’t we say if you carry salt don’t walk under the rain? So I prayed and asked God to hold the rains until I reached. Then I increased my pace.
On arrival, he had gone to the farm. I sat there and waited until he returned. Then I told him that I had come to take him back to town. He resisted that the city was hopeless without a job especially because he does not like to be fed. He prefers here as a farmer. You know he meant subsistence farming. His calling as a great pastor and excellent teacher had made me weep everyday. I felt bad losing him. I explained to him that he will go to school and become a pastor; that the church was going to support him.
I was already admitted in the Assemblies of God Bible School. I went to Jim Lemons: a friend and a great missionary that I highly respected. He admitted Benjamin though the initial stages the school was meant only for English speakers which exempted Benjamin as a French speaker. Our Church: Full Gospel Nsimeyong II had accepted to pay his tuition. A new dawn has begun for my friend.
So let me ask you this? Are you a friend that someone can count on? Can your friend leave you with his wife or her husband and still not feel threatened? Do you have a friend you really trust that you know what he can say behind your back? If Benjamin said anything behind my back it was just praise and nothing but praise. If there was something he did not agree he waited until we were going back home or at home then he said “mais pastor; toi même la tu as tort”. He will never join your adversaries to crucify you. Nunca! We never loaned each other anything. We gave to each other according to his or her needs. We did not really differentiate clothes if not of the fact that my clothes were a bit bigger for him. I could wear his and still look a bit descent but when he wore mine he was like a little squirrel.
When one of us is sick the other went to look for medicine. I was really sick in 1994 or 92 and so he and Divine carried me to the hospital. But the doctors refused to treat me because they could not buy a ticket. So they brought me back where he prepared some herbs until I recovered. That was the last time I ever went to the hospital because I was sick. He kept joking with me that this one that you are sleeping in bed all day means that fever is really beating you. We were always there for each other. We respected our appointments (I Sam 20:35).
After some time I left and came to the US. Benjamin continued and went to Togo where he graduated and pursued his graduate studies. He was strong in house work where I was really weak. But I knew how to make things happen. We visited Christians together, went to church together, ate together, and slept together (not the other type now). The day I was toppled from the University group while in Douala, I came, met him but he did not say a word. That is how confident he was about me. He knew that I will definitely face it so why worry to tell me. When I went to the meeting and they told me I laughed as we walked back home. He told me I told them that that man would not even bother about it. Indeed, I did not. If you came to the house to ask for a favor he knew what I will do and what I could not do. At times he spoke my heart in my absence. We went to help Christians with their farms together. Today he is married with children and a great district pastor with the Full Gospel Mission. Please meet my humble and trustworthy friend: Benjamin Noumba.
In this picture is Alain, Benjamin (white shirt) and myself (blue suit)

Don’t worry that you don’t agree in everything. Even if you were born in the same house you will never agree 100%? Do you have a true friend: one that you know can put their life in jeopardy for you? If not then you can start by having Jesus: a trust and faithful friend. He will teach you what true friendship is. If you are a Christian but are allergic to faithfulness then you should ask God for the fruit of the spirit. One of them is actually faithfulness.
Until then, be a faithful friend.
Prince & PA Hamilton Ayuk

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