A Day of Rest in Douala

Saturday, December 31, 2022
Douala, Littoral, Cameroon
There hadn’t been enough time to reserve a hall for a church service today, neither was it possible for everyone to meet in a member’s home. This was a very last-minute trip, and some of it has to be decided as I go. I invited the local members to come by my hotel where we could meet and fellowship over coffee or soft drinks. Several said they would come, but in the end none did. One man let me know at the end of the day that he’d been held up by traffic snarls due to New Year’s Eve preparations. That was likely the case for the others as well. Traffic is a mess in Douala even in the best of times. All it takes is a heavy rain or something unusual, like a holiday, and gridlock can result. But there may be more.
The members in Cameroon face many challenges. Some from the world outside (think of the airport scene from yesterday) and some from stresses within the group, which is widely scattered around the country. There is no local man that everyone would look to for leadership. Many of these members grew up in the church, or have been in it for three decades, but since the various association troubles we have traversed over the past years, they haven’t had a local elder or even a deacon in decades. Some of their previous leaders behaved disappointingly and are no longer around. One of my goals this week is to facilitate reconciliation and find a modus vivendi, until God provides a local leader. We do what we can from 7000 miles away, but we can’t do everything from there. They're hanging in as best they can, and we're doing our best to help.
This is something I belive we often take for granted in our present organization in the US: well-grounded, balanced church leaders. In the past, some of us may have sometimes chafed under a leader with whom our personalities were not exactly compatible, or a leader unaware of an annoying blind spot. We all make mistakes. But imagine a situation where there is no recognized leader locally and church administrators do not feel able to appoint anyone. It’s very stressful, especially among a particularly passionate, emotional people. Sometimes, sadly, it’s better not to gather because of the risk of turmoil without an accepted leader, but instead to worship God separately, in peace, which is what they’ve been doing during the past few COVID years.
I’m asking God to make clear His will for this little group.
When I went down for dinner around 6:00 (I went early to avoid the New Year’s Eve festivities) I saw local people setting up tables around the little swimming pool terrace. Even in a simple two-star hotel like this, the Saint Sylvestre as the French (and other Catholics) call the day, is a very big deal. As a former French colony, Cameroon has kept the customs. This evening, in the old country, is celebrated with elaborate meals, the best people can afford. There may be a seven-course meal, lasting four or five hours, including expensive dishes, usually including shellfish and/or lobster, and lots of champagne. It’s not uncommon in France for the long, fixed-price meal to include from half to a full bottle of champagne per person (and sometimes other drinks as well). Usually, live music and dancing are part of the evening.
The menu at this little Ibis was not so expensive, and included beef roasted over a barbecue (it smelled great), but there were plenty of bottles on the bar. I was happy to finish my meal before all that got started, especially when I heard the band warming up. It was going to be loud with a heavy repetitive beat, as most Africans prefer. I was thankful to have a room on the street side of the hotel, not the back.

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Thank you for the reminder that our brethren around the world need prayers consistently for God’s intervention. Please be well, praying for a safe and edifying trip.


We will certainly be praying for God's guidance in finding a wise and helpful way to assist our brothers and sisters there.


Prayers for God's clear guidance, His protection and safety, and His gracious blessings for this little flock.


We will be praying for God to bless your efforts of reconciliation.

Tess Washington

Thank you for the update & the revelation of our Cameroon brethrens situation! "With God all things all things are possible".