All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet:
“Look! The virgin will conceive a child!
She will give birth to a son,
and they will call him Immanuel,
which means ‘God is with us.’” (Matthew 1:22–23 NLT)
It was just over five years ago that the current civil war in Cameroon began. Despite Cameroon officially being a bilingual country, many people in the English-speaking areas felt like second-class citizens compared to their counterparts in the French-speaking areas. Overall, it’s a complicated situation, and for many Cameroonians their chief concern in this conflict is how they can preserve their lives, limbs, and property.
In October 2018, leading up to the first presidential election after the conflict began, the Cameroon Baptist Convention (CBC) sent out a call to prayer, one the NAB took up and passed on to our churches. With this call to prayer, Calvin Hohn, who at the time was the NAB field director for Cameroon and director of Cooperating Missions for the CBC, shared these remarks: “In light of God’s Kingdom ministry, the right thing may not always be the safe thing. Safety and security may be high Western values, but it is a value that is often not afforded to our non-Western brothers and sisters in Christ. We want to make sure that we do not trade the idolatry of security for the biblical values of the Kingdom.”
At various points from the start of the conflict to now, NAB missionaries have been given the option to leave Cameroon for their own safety. Though some have left recently for health reasons or to provide support on another field, none of them have chosen to do so for their own personal security. Many of those who remain in Cameroon have been relocated to safer locations within the country, but they all understand the importance of being with people in the midst of their suffering.
On other NAB mission fields, Ron and Jeannie Seck in Hungary and Serbia and the team at Camp Falcon Rock in Romania have repeatedly chosen to leave the safety of shore to step into more dangerous waters to assist those who have been caught up in the rapid current of the war in Ukraine. Sometimes this means caring for refugees who have crossed the border, but other times it has meant crossing into western Ukraine to provide supplies, support, or transport to those still in the country.
In these instances and more, NAB international missionaries and national missionaries have chosen to not look away from the difficult and to not seek their own safety for safety’s sake. Time and again, they have chosen to be with people in the midst of their suffering – to provide aid where they could and the simple comfort of a friend where they could not. This is not unlike the choice made by Jesus, Immanuel, the God who is with us. He chose to embrace the difficulty of the manger – the struggle of humanity – rather than to look away and ignore our suffering.
Do you have this same Kingdom mindset when you come up against difficult or trying situations, or do you find yourself seeking safety and comfort at the expense of being God’s representative with others?