Monday, June 24, 2013

How Do You Compare Living Your Faith In Cameroon And Here In The United States?”

Street Evangelism in Downtown Atlanta.

I know this question has really taken time, but I will do it today. I have often been asked this question, “how do you compare living your faith in Cameroon and here in the US?” It is usually a tricky question because it may either arouse nostalgia (on my part) or vitriol on the part of the listener who may think that I am insulting their Christianity. I will look at the following four rubrics: evangelism, visitation, supervision and fellowship.One thing I can tell you is that their churches are well administered. They have that edge over us.
In Cameroon, we preached everywhere. We stopped at the market, stood on private or public property, took over abandoned buildings and preached until the owner did no more want us there. However, like when I was in the University, the owners were happy with me using their abandoned buildings because I cleared their little evergreen forests. Sometime, people threw water, others threw oil and others beat us up without even the police intervening. I remember the case at CRADAT where before I came, a soldier had beaten my guys and gone away.
In the US, it is very different. You do not just preach everywhere. You must only stand on a pavement or public property to preach. You can also stand on your own property or that of someone else with their permission. Nevertheless, no matter what you preach, no one will attack you physically; they have to call the police. The police will always side with the complainer, though.   
We were always together. 
Another thing you will not easily find is the presence of a strong university ministry in the US. That is probably why most of the laws now are tilting towards godlessness. You know like we held debates on evolution, Islam, Darwinism, Marxism, Freud, Global Warming and other hot topics with non-Christians who wanted to debate, you will rarely see such a thing in American campuses. It explains why most American Christians cannot sustain a debate without telling you, " I don't want to talk about it." In Africa, superstition sells, but in America the people sell rumors and canards, even when they know it is false, they still refuse to let it go because many churches don't teach their Christians how to debate without being angry. The human being is a rational being; the only being that repents and must do so. In the presence of rationality, there is a kaleidoscope of opinions. Winning the soul is one thing, keeping the soul is another.

I always stood in this amphitheater of about 500 students to preach.

Sharing bread in the US. it was easier to meet people like this than to invite them to a meeting.

When someone came to church, on that same day, brothers and sisters fought to make you their friends. They took you out, some took you to their homes. They did not need to know you. Brother or sister in Christ meant just that. It did not matter what you did or what sex you were. One thing I realize in the US is that a brother cannot invite a sister without her thinking she is going on a date or that it is a date. They will say, “I don’t even know you.” Hahahaha! That to me is always like, “oh my goodness, these people are very empty.” It took me time to really understand that part of the culture, even though I still do it. I invited new people for meals and activities on the first day and let them decide. I wanted them to feel the warmth of brotherliness. I wanted them to quickly replace the way of the sinners and the scorns of the mockers with the counsel of the godly. In most cases, it worked! 
In America, it is difficult for people to invite you to their house or even integrate you that fast. I had one lady tell me that she wants to know me more, so I will have do a background check. I said well, that is easy! Since I am not looking for work and you want it for your safety, we can do two: one for you and one for me. She began falling fits. She asked me if I did not trust her. I was baffled. I thought it was a time to expose our backgrounds.  If someone was looking for an employment or to minister in church, that is understandable, but a brother who just greets you and invites you out for brotherliness should not be subjected to a background check. Hahahaha. America!
Visiting Brethren in their homes was our responsibility as leaders. 
Oh, the men always say, “I love you brother, no homo.” When I heard “no homo,” methought it was short form of Homo sapiens. I have been hearing it and did not like it because of the way I understood it. I thought it meant something like, “I love you but not as a human being.” So one day when one brother said it again, I asked him to explain what exactly he meant. He explained that he meant that he does not love me as a homosexual. That is not something that will even cross my mind. If people kept seeing the same brothers together, they inferred that their homo thing. I preferred to invite sisters or hang around the sisters and save me the tag of homo. I remember I was trying to hook up a sister with a brother in Christ one day when the sister told me that she does not do men. The first alternative that came to my mind was animal. So I said, “you don’t do men; what type of animals do you do’? She looked at me and smiled.  Then she took time to explain to me.
Unlike in America, we had a good follow-up system as young converts were given to someone whose task was assisting the young convert, praying with them, visiting them and integrating them into the church. I went to one church for 6 months, but no one even knew where I lived. Even though I did not really need it as an old Christian, but as a visitor to the church, it should have been the church’s obligation. I could only invite the brothers or pastor out for a meal, but it was difficult to ask if a sister wanted to hang out with you all. Their minds always went to dating, and they will tell you, “Oh thanks, I have a boyfriend.” Hahahaha. This leads us to the last point fellowship.
University Students retreat.
When sisters were passing around my house in Cameroon, they will stop and knock. If I was in, they came in, we shared the scripture while we ate and drank the little I could afford. If I did not have much but had some money, I took them to the restaurant and we ate. I never get that in the US. The individualism in the society is despicable and of monumental proportions. In Cameroon, sometimes we went to evangelize and then just slept in a sister’s house. No one thought of rape or abusing the sister. In the US, the people seem to an extent suffering from psychosis because they always think that a man meeting a woman will result to some abuse on the woman. I don’t know why they think that way.
I don’t understand where they keep their morals and their faith.  I have never heard a sister tell a brother to pass by her house for meal or say things like come and ride with me. When they are going to the same meeting, living in the same place, they drive different vehicles. Sometimes I ask myself why life is so artificial in the US. I remember how every day I had visitors in my hostels. People just came and prayed, sang and studied the scripture. In all my 13 years of doing that practice, we never heard or had one bad experience of sexual abuse of any sort. Now that the world is a small village, perhaps those mores have changed.  There are Christians in America who spend more than a month without receiving a single visit from a brother or sister in Christ. Christians don't have time to visit people, but they have time to sit on TV or computer for three hours. The men play video games. I do it too! I sit for 4 hours on fight nights and when my neighbor comes, I ask him if he wants to watch or leave because I want to watch fights. When he is gone, I repent to God and then the next fight, I am at it again. What type of fellowship is that? Did you know that many American Christians can spend a year without ever sharing the gospel with their neighbors? Some don't even know them. Perhaps that explains the high rate of drug addiction as a coping mechanism and divorce amongst Christians. Many think that fellowship is only coming to church and singing. In Cameroon, we made sure that everyone visited somebody before the week came to an end.
Henriette the only girl visiting on this day knew she was in good company.
However, because of the dynamics of each culture, the people are satisfied with the way their churches function. If whatever they do is blessing the members, then it needs no change.

Until then, I believe they can take some things from us, and we take some things from them to make the journey easier.  

Saint Arrey of Ntenako.

“Bonyfish beware because the same net that caught the jawless fish, caught the cartilaginous fish” (Hamilton Ayuk). Beware earthly paradise seekers because there is a serpent in every paradise"(Hamilton Ayuk). "It is not how well you know a person; it is how well you treat them that they will live longer and happier with you." Idle people write, idler people read, and idlest people read and whine that idle people are taking their time (Hamilton Ayuk).

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