In an age when Americans read books and attend seminars on how to simplify, there are still many parts of the world that never lost touch with the basics. For instance, the African country of Cameroon.
Yaounde, its capital, ranks as the second-largest city in the republic. Here, in the heart of urban life, a blacksmith still forges a hoe over an open fire in front of his house.
Like the blacksmith, Cru staff members in Cameroon stick to the basics — in this case, the basics of Cru — winning people to Christ, building them in their faith and sending them out to do the same.
And the basics are working. What started with two foreign missionary couples in 1992 now includes a staff team of 59 Cameroonians.
Across town from the blacksmith, third-year university student Ibrahim Ndzesop scales the hilly campus of Yaounde I University to talk with people about Jesus Christ. He walks up the steps of a dormitory and meets two students, Eric and his roommate, Macdonald. The men agree to talk for a few minutes about Christianity.
Using the evangelistic Four Spiritual Laws booklet as a springboard, Ibrahim peppers the discussion with questions in both French and English. In bilingual Cameroon, conversations often flip-flop between languages.
Soon one of the young Cameroonians opens his life to Jesus Christ through a prayer of confession. Ibrahim prays with his new friend, then invites him to an upcoming Cru meeting.
Three hours west by bus, past forests of eucalyptus, banana and bamboo, Emmanuel Lingome represents Cru in the city of Douala.
Last year, the 30-year-old staff member had invited his pastor to attend classes on how to explain the gospel to others. He had merely hoped that the course might inspire his pastor to host training classes at their church.
But the Rev. Martin Minyem shocked the young staff member three weeks later when he announced from the pulpit that, during Emmanuel's basic training class, he had given his life to Christ for the first time. Then he invited the whole church to do the same.
"It is often the case," Emmanuel goes on to say, "that [people] will pray [to give their life to Christ] and not understand what they have done. I don't always realize it at the time, but when we are doing follow-up lessons, it is easy to see."
Cru staff member Victorine Tambeand meets with Eunice Ngang for just such a purpose on Saturdays and Mondays.
One of the mornings, after singing a hymn in harmony, Victorine quizzes her friend on Scripture memory. Afterward the two women turn to a lesson from "Beginning Your New Life in Christ" — a discipleship material written for new believers. The lesson of the day is about how to read Scripture.
Like Eunice, professor David Bekolle also wants to be built in his faith. The head of the mathematics department at one of Yaounde's universities meets with staff member Augustin Tchenkoua for 90 minutes each week. "I am supposed to be a Christian, but things were not so clear before I attended Cru," the bespectacled professor explains.
“This is discipleship,” says Cru’s national director in Cameroon, Gabriel Takoudjou, summing up Augustin and David’s relationship.
Mobilization — or sending — ranks as the third basic principle of Cru.
Recently seven Cameroonians traveled to Mali to become Cru staff members. During the standard nine-month training course for new staff members, nine countries were represented from Francophone (French-speaking) Africa. Cameroonians comprised one-quarter of the class.
"Since 1997, Cameroon has always had the largest representation of trainees [new staff members of Cru]," says Emmanuel Ngeh Ngafansi, a full-time trainer in the program and himself a Cameroonian.
"For the past five years, it has been progressively increasing in number."
One reason for the increase is that Cameroonian staff members train others to “go” — to step out of their comfort zones and sacrifice to take the gospel to others. Now, new Cameroonians continue that ministry, carrying the vision of discipleship to others.
It all goes back to the basics.
God is using Executive Ministries and one man’s position of influence in parliament to bring change to Cameroon.
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