Philip Nelson works with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Cameroon and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Central African Republic. June Nelson is a nurse in the Pan African Academy of Christian Surgeon’s clinic. To support the Nelsons, or another of the ELCA’s nearly 250 missionaries, go to www.elca.org/missionarysponsorship.
A young woman recently desired to be baptized. Her husband is one of a growing group of people in her ethnic group who have chosen to follow Jesus. She is a woman with traditional values. When she came to my house to be baptized, she couldn’t go against her upbringing and speak to someone as seemingly imposing as myself. I discreetly went into the kitchen and prepared some coffee while Pastor Abdulahi Jean and her husband spoke with her about why she had chosen to be baptized.
Eves dropping from the kitchen, I heard her tell Pastor Abdulahi that she had seen a difference in her husband after he was baptized, and that when she was sick here at the Ngaoundéré hospital, the Christians, especially Pastor Abdulahi, were so kind to her. She wanted to be a part of what she had heard about Jesus.
After I came out of the kitchen I asked her if she knew what the cross was and why it was important to Christians. Embarrassed she looked at her hands that were zipping and unzipping her small pocket book and shook her head indicating that she didn’t. After I explained the significance of the cross to Christians, we laughed together about her being embarrassed to talk directly to me. Our house worker and cook, Eve, then arrived with a longtime friend of the family, Tobi. These two women helped put the young lady more at ease.
Pastor Abdulahi started the service around our dining room table and had me read from the 28th chapter of Matthew where Jesus commands the disciples to go into the world and make disciples of all nations first baptizing them. Pastor Abdulahi baptized her with Eve holding the bowl of water. Our new sister left this morning with a smile and a cross to remember what Jesus did for her and for us.
This is the reason that I find joy in the work that we have been called to participate in here in Cameroon and Central African Republic. God is indeed wonderful and more powerful in our lives than any force or coercion. I do not give you her name because she is now vulnerable to others of her ethnic group who do not agree with her choices.