UPON THIS ROCK
"Ebenezer - Up To Here The Lord Has Helped Us" is this year's Presbyterian Church day theme. As is the tradition, the Moderator speaks to his Christians. In his characteristic humility, he begins with these inspiring words. My dear fellow Presbyterians, At a very momentous period in the history of Israel, when they were invaded by the Philistines, God raised Samuel to lead his people. During the gread battle that ensued at Mizpah the Philistines were defeated and routed. To commemorate that great act of God's salvation, Samuel, eloquent and charismatic, mounted a stone and called it "Ebenezer," meaning "Stone of Help". For he said, "Up to here the Lord has helped us". (1 Sam. 7:12)
The first Missionaries of the Basel Mission arrived here on the 23rd December 1886. Four days later one of them, the Rev. Friederich Becher died. But that did not deter them. They carried their work with vigour and dedication. When our founding fathers and mothers decided for autonomy 71 years later on the 13th of november 1957, it was a great leap of faith.
We thank God for the pioneering work of the Basel Mission (now Mission 21) in this country and for the vission of our parents in the faith. Their work has been richly blessed. We pray that God may continue to bless our common efforts in Mission. May God bless the many Cameroonians lay and ordained, now resting in the Lord, who toiled and laboured to build this Church.
Ebenezer! Today 50 years after, we are also setting up our "Stone of help to thank God for his abiding mercies on the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon. In these 50 years, God has continued to lead his Church. He has saved us from one crisis after another. Even when our enemies were seen as having won ultimately, God lifted the Church high. Within this time, we have experienced God's grace, characterized by abundant growth. Our social services through which we express our Christian witness into action have flourished and expanded tremendously. What was hitherto limitted only to two provinces (North West and South West) is now a national Church implanted all over Cameroon. Now, overwhelmed by His love and grace which has accompanied is this far we can only exclaim in gratutude to God, "Ebenezer - up to here the Lord has helped us."
The stone at Ebenezer became the symbol of repentance for the children of Israel, and thier recognition of God's hand in their history. As we celebrate this Jubilee, evangelization would continue to constitute the focus of our vision. We believe that God is calling the Church to Mission. Let the gospel continue to be preached in season and out of season in order to witness to the good news about Jesus Christ and His Kingdom. Let the word of God continue to guide our national leaders to pursue justice and establish equity. For the future does not augur well for any nation that is permanently divided between a very few rich and the many who are abjectively poor. And in the midst of a rapidly declining morality, let the prophetic voice of the Church continue to call the nation of Cameroon to repentance and work for the reconciliation of its people. Again and again, we are reminded that:-
"He has shown you, O man what is good
Our history strengthens us to hear Jesus Christ's command: "You shall be my witnesses" (Acts. 1:8). To that end, we shall not only press on with the proclamation of the word, but we would also endeavour to strive on for excelence so that our social services, like health, education etc. exist only for one purpose, namely: to let Cameroonians experience life in fullness (Jn. 10:10).
Our people say that when a torn enters the toe, it is the whole body that bends down to take it out. In our efforts to fulfill our calling we should learn to look at the bigger picture. That picture is the PCC and its single aim to glorify God in its work. It is necesary for every single unit of the Church to recognize that its existence is inseparably linked up with the welfare of the whole Church. For instance, there is always the tendency for big congregations to become complacent, looking inwards only at themselves, and forgetting the small poorer congregations. Actually, the more affluent congregations could become useful instruments of mission by facilitating the growth of emerging ones. Sometimes even the movements tend to function as if they are autonomous. The PCC is one Church, has one Lord, one faith and one baptism (Eph. 4:5). Hence it also has only one calling and all its different organisms, congregations, institutions and ,ovements should reflect this in their work.
The future is brightm because it is in God's hands. Whatever problems we may face today, we trust that by the help of the Holy Spirit, we shall conquer because victory ultimately belongs to the chosen people of God. So as we move on to the future to which God is calling us, lets us strive on without fear, labouring to build a spiritually viable church, working for greater congregational renewal, making diciples for Christ, fighting against curruption and poverty, and enhancing our national unity, combating the spread of of HIV/AIDS, pursuing our dream of a Christian University, campaigning for greater justice in Cameroon, supporting the enhancement of youth and women and working for the full attainment of self-reliance.
We thank God for the numerical strength of our Church. But the vitality of a church is not so much in its numbers only as in its spiritual strength. "I am the Lord your God; consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy for I am holy"(Lev. 11:44). For some of our people, Christianity is simply the fulfilment of routine like attending church on Sunday. The other realm of their lives is influenced by other powers, hence for many, profession is so different from practice. And for many of such people, when faced with a persona crisis, they resort to their traditional religions and go to consult the village priest for "country fashion" instead of Christ for succour..
The reason is largely because Christianity was brought to us a seedling growing in alien European soil in foreign pots. To let Christianity become fully home grown we must break those foreign pots and let the gospel take root in our native soil. We must continue to pursue the process of indigenization in order to decolonize the mind. That way we would let the Gospel to be relevant to our cultural milieu. And when that happens Christianity will fully capture the whole person, body, mind and soul of the Cameroonian Christian. Otherwise Jesus Christ will possess only one part of the person while the other part will remain prisoner to other gods.
Finally, as we sing our song of praise for this jubilee, we want to thank all of you pastors, elders, group leaders and the thousands of fervent Christians of the PCC who have served God with such dedication and promoted the work of the Church with so much commitment. We also thank our local and foreign partners in Cameroon, Africa, Europe and the United States of America and all the ecumenical organizations to which we belong for their faithful partnership with us.
Magnify the Lord with me
My dear friends, this is the day the Lord has made.
May God bless you all as you celebrate .
Buea, August 30th, 2007