I’m sitting in the Abidjan airport in Cote D’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) waiting for my flight to Ghana. The airline changed the schedule leaving me with a nine-hour layover here. Fortunately, there is a business lounge in the airport allowing me to relax a little and catch up on some overdue work and to enjoy a delicious lunch of curry and rice.
It has been quite an eventful couple of days since my last post. On Saturday morning we departed from Bafoussam before sunrise for Yaoundé. About two hours into the trip, just as the sun had risen–its golden rays accentuating the glory of the rolling verdant countryside and dazzling my eyes–it happened again. Our vehicle broke down! Unfortunately, this time we were in the middle of nowhere, the closest town located about thirty minutes away. If I were superstitious, I might be tempted to believe I have a curse attached to me since this keeps happening.
Pastor Samuel, the Chairman of the CBC Minister’s Fellowship and the one who extended the invitation to come and speak to the convention, along with his wife and another pastor just happened to drive by us a few minutes later and immediately pulled over to help. Once again, we all stood around the vehicle shaking our heads and trying to figure out what to do. If only AAA was in Africa! After a few hours of standing on the highway dodging oncoming traffic, we were able to finally locate a mechanic who showed up with his trusty towing rope and proceeded to tow the vehicle to town. It was decided by Pastor Joseph and Pastor Samuel that I should return with our other pastor friend to Yaoundé since the mechanics were not hopeful about fixing the car anytime soon. Unfortunately, Joseph and Samuel would spend all day waiting for news about the car to no avail and were ultimately required to take a bus back to Yaoundé not returning until very late.
Arriving back in Yaoundé, I was pleased to pull up to my accommodations for the next couple of nights–the Helen Hotel. If you have read my previous posts, you know that I have not had the best experiences with hotels on this trip. However, the Helen Hotel redeemed all of that. A relatively new hotel located in the main city center of Yaoundé, my room had working air conditioning, decent Wi-Fi, and hot water. To top it off, the hotel had a beautiful rooftop terrace giving you an incredible panoramic view of the seven hills surrounding Yaoundé. When I talked to my wife Allison that night I told her, “Sorry babe, but my new favorite female’s name is Helen!
On Sunday morning I was honored to preach at Rehoboth Baptist Church, where my host and friend Joseph serves as the pastor. After a spirited time of worship, I took for my text 2 Timothy 2:1–7 and proceeded to preach on “Beginning A Gospel Movement in Cameroon.” The service was also being translated into French. Unfortunately, my southern accent must have flummoxed the translator as he struggled to interpret my message, which resulted in me feeling as if I could never get into a good rhythm. One thing I have learned over my time of preaching/teaching internationally is that a good translator makes all the difference in the world. During my time preaching at the convention, the translator was so adept I did not even feel as if there was a translator.
Nevertheless, the Lord used our weakness and the message got across. In fact, after service while waiting on Joseph to attend to his pastoral duties, one of the brothers inspired by the sermon engaged me in a deep discussion on discipleship, which greatly encouraged me. I also had the opportunity to interact with Pastor Joseph’s children, who peppered me with questions about America and I peppered them with questions about Cameroon.
After Joseph’s pastoral duties were done, he brought me to his house where we had a delicious dinner of chicken, rice, cabbage, plantains, and bitter lemon soda with his precious family and a couple of family friends. One of things I enjoy most when traveling internationally is sharing meals with friends new and old. In a very relational culture like Africa, sharing a meal is a sacred bond.
After the meal, it was back to the hotel to say goodbye to Pastor Samuel, his wife, and another area pastor who serves on ITEM’s leadership team in Cameroon named Pastor Hison. To say that Pastor Samuel was pleased with the ministry at the convention would be an understatement. He was almost giddy with excitement as he relayed the dozens of testimonies from pastors who attended the convention and were deeply encouraged and strengthened by the Word. It is true that in our weakness God’s strength is magnified. To think that God could use me with all my flaws, foibles, and failures to encourage and strengthen His shepherds is both humbling and mind blowing. Not to us oh Lord, but to your name belongs the glory! (Ps. 115:1).
Having taken the obligatory pictures, Pastor Samuel offered a powerful, eloquent, and heartfelt prayer on my behalf. Then he presented me with a beautiful Toghu, which is a traditional outfit very common in Cameroon and worn by members of royalty. It is most often worn during weddings. I was so humbled by the gift, words failed.
After hugs and handshakes goodbye, I retreated to my room to pack and prepare to head to Ghana. My time in Cameroon has been more fruitful than I anticipated. Not only is the Lord opening doors for ITEM to expand training all over the country, but I have also developed relationships with many wonderful people whom I cannot wait to see and minister with again.
Thank you to everyone who is supporting ITEM as your gifts enable us to have such a powerful impact in countries like Cameroon. Only eternity will tell the numbers of lives and ministries transformed by your generosity.
Until next time . . .
1 thought on “Chris’ Travel Diary: MY FAVORITE NAME IS HELEN”
Maybe I shouldn’t leave a comment every day, but I am so moved by what ITEM is doing. I thank God that He has allowed me to be a part of this ministry.