SCHROTH CAMEROON TRIP
by Dan Schroth
Recently our family had the tremendous opportunity to serve for two months in Cameroon. The relationship that the North American Baptist (NAB) has with the Cameroon Baptist Convention (CBC) is unique. This affiliation is well respected in missions circles. Though the CBC was born from the NAB, she has grown up and has embraced the role of a being much larger (over 1000 churches) than the NAB (roughly 400 churches), but still very open to the way that the NAB is able to enhance the CBC’s defined goals. Though the NAB is the parent, the daughter is strong and vibrant. That being said, there continues to be a valuable role for the NAB. Primary areas of needs that the CBC has are in the areas of teaching (medical and theological), prayer and financial support. Our role in this country is welcomed, needed, and rousing.
The opportunity to train up pastors at the Cameroon Baptist Theological Seminary (CBTS) was precious. Many of the ladies and men at the seminary are there at the risk of their health, relationship with family, and even their life. As they follow the call of God in their life, their commitment to overcome poverty and intense persecution is both humbling and inspiring.
Most of the buildings at CBTS are in need of considerable attention. There has been some movement to address this; however, the need greatly exceeds the present ability to provide what is required. Power equipment is scarce and building materials are obscenely expensive. The reality is that a typical student family training to be a pastor will live in a considerably depleted 400 sq. ft. ‘fourplex’ home.
While I was teaching, the rest of my family served the community in a variety of ways. These included: construction work, cleaning up the seminary library, and helping with the younger children.
Our sisters and brothers in Cameroon are eager to share love of Jesus Christ with the many people who are following African traditional religions and Islam. The opposition is immense. However, the passion and courage to free their fellow Cameroonians is awesome. We can have a significant role in coming alongside these spiritual giants.
The CBTS leaders greatly appreciated MBC’s willingness to allow me to teach at the school. In fact, they were in awe that MBC would release a pastor to serve in another country. It was often mentioned that they hold the NAB in tremendous regard for its passion to dismiss any semblance of an ‘us and them’ relationship, but rather to adopt a more holistic ‘we’ relationship.
Upon arriving on the Cameroon Baptist Theological Seminary (CBTS) it became immediately obvious that there are many areas of need. Of course, I can’t describe all the needs at length; however, I would be remiss if I did not mention a few:
- There has been considerable change in the top leadership. The current team is being led by Rev. Mbongo George. I am very fond of his method of leadership and have the utmost respect for him. Please continue to pray that he would have the strength required to guide this school. There continues to be a need for capable teachers. Pray that our Lord would provide the leadership that is required to staff this growing school.
- Forty years ago Bernie Lemke was part of a team that built the current chapel. At the time, they never fathomed that it would eventually become too small. Currently, during chapel time almost 400 people squeeze into a building meant to accommodate 250 people. Many need to stand outside during dry and rainy seasons. Pray that proper guidance would be given to some workable solutions.
- The majority of the students are immensely financially challenged. Gaining the training that is required to become chaplains, spiritual teachers, counsellors, and pastors is tremendously difficult. Pray for these courageous students as they trust God to provide for their needs. A student’s fees are roughly $400 Canadian for an academic year. To put that into perspective, the average skilled worker receives around 60ish cents/hour. Perhaps you could consider if God is inviting you to sponsor a pastor in training. Let me know if that interests you.
- There are many more areas of need; however, the area that is heaviest on my heart is family housing. If you are moved to help with doing something for the student housing, please let me know!
There are so many more experiences that we would love to meet with you to discuss. Our family thanks each of you for your very significant role in making this adventure possible. When we consider the challenges that 2011 had for our family and the way that so many of you supported us through your prayers, encouragement and financial support, we are in awe of you, and if I may, of our God Almighty who is the providential provider of all things.