A few weeks ago, Rachel and I traveled to Cameroon, Africa to visit multiple people groups who do not yet have Scripture in their language. This trip, which our sending agency calls a “Vision Trip,” was one step in our journey to work in Bible translation and literacy among an unreached people group. Below is a brief summary of our calling to Cameroon, what we saw on our trip, and what our plans are for the future.
Our Calling to Cameroon
David Sills, in his book The Missionary Call, describes the call to missions as “an awareness of the needs of a lost world, the commands of Christ, a concern for the lost, a radical commitment to God, your church’s affirmation, blessing and commissioning, a passionate desire, the Spirit’s gifting, and an indescribable yearning that motivates beyond all understanding.” While there is a lot in that description, it perfectly captures the process that led us to this point.
I began feeling a call to missions back in 2016 after a short-term trip to Jordan. Rachel and I both assumed this was the type of emotional response to an impactful trip that would quickly fade away. It soon became clear that while Jordan might not be the location, the call to missions was only getting stronger. Shortly after the trip, I began seminary classes and started to develop an increasing interest in biblical languages, linguistics, and the theories behind the work of translation. During this time, Rachel also began to feel the weight of so many unreached people groups who have neither heard the gospel nor read God’s word in their heart language. As we continued to talk and pray about the great need, God gave us an increasing desire to be part of the solution by going. This desire was confirmed by the incredible support and affirmation of the church and many individuals whose wisdom helped us along the way.
Cameroon is a country about the size of California that sits on the west coast of Africa. In this relatively small nation, there are over 280 languages of which nearly 100 have no Scripture translated. One of these people groups, the Baka, have had missionaries among them for many years and have been prayerfully waiting for a translation project to start. Our recent trip confirmed that this was the people group to whom God was calling us and resulted in an invitation to join the Baka team in Cameroon.
Our Vision Trip
This trip opened our eyes to the far-reaching effects of the fall and the difficulty of planting a healthy, growing church without the benefit of a Bible the people can understand. We saw overwhelming poverty and just how difficult life in an African village can be. Additionally, we saw a world of darkness in which syncretism is rampant, violence is common, and death is an ever-present reality. However, we also saw how the “light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” (2 Cor. 4:4) shines in the darkness and gives hope in the darkest of places. One example of this was seen in the life of a Baka man named Nestor. A couple of years ago, Nestor lost both a newborn child and his wife to sickness in a very short amount of time. Many in his family and in the village blamed the deaths on his refusal to practice the rituals and superstitions of their culture that are rooted in animism. Through all of this, Nestor has remained faithful and continues to trust in Christ and share the good news of the gospel with those around him. He now leads the small church in the village and is looking forward to the day when he can preach to the Baka people as they follow along in a Baka Bible that they understand.
This trip also gave us an opportunity to meet some trained linguists and Bible translators and to observe them in their work. This opened our eyes to many of the difficulties and obstacles that we will soon face. As these men and women reflected on the work they are doing, we were encouraged by their reminder that no one is capable of mastering multiple languages, faithfully translating the Bible, and teaching illiterate people to read apart from the power and sovereignty of God.
Our Next Steps
Over the next several months, we will begin developing financial and prayer partners. Lord willing, our family will move to Dallas, TX in the middle of July to attend Dallas International University where I will complete my training in linguistics and Bible translation and Rachel will take classes on language acquisition and literacy work in missions. When our training in Dallas is complete, we plan to attend pre-field training in North Carolina and then begin our first term in the summer of 2020.
We are thankful to be part of a church that places such a focus on fulfilling the Great Commission, from local outreach ministries to foreign missions. We appreciate all of you who have prayed and supported us in getting to this point. If you would like more information about specific things you can pray for or have any questions, please feel free to contact me at .