Tuesday

Today is conference day. We gathered for breakfast at 7:00am but immediately realized that nobody had placed a breakfast order the night before. We ordered omelets, coffee and bread and waited until about 7:45am for it to be prepared.
The nationals were supposed to come at 8:00am to take Mark and me to the bank to exchange money – they weren’t there yet at 8:35am so Paul made a determination to have the driver take us to the church so we could be there on time for the conference at 9:00am.
The driver took us to the wrong church but Paul was able to get him directions so he turned around and took us to Cameroon Baptist Church, arriving at exactly 9:00am. Chantal and Dona were there waiting for us, apparently they were almost to the hotel when we left and they had waved to us as we drove past.
Paul was our emcee today, introducing Mark to begin our teaching and then rotating through the rest of the team. During our lunch hour at 11:30 Chantal took Mark and me to the money exchange. We returned to the conference and ate some delicious meat sandwiches on French bread rolls.
There were 48 attendees at our conference today. After the conference we took a group photo which took a long time as everyone had to get photos with their phones and it was difficult to get everyone to stand still and to look at one camera. Everyone was really excited to receive the teaching today.
There are pastors in attendance from Congo, Angola, Cameroon and Nigeria – possibly even other countries that I’m not aware of. I pray this is an opportunity God has provided to be able to expand into those countries and their surrounding countries.
After returning to the hotel Mark and I went to the city to purchase Bibles and humanitarian aid. It took a couple hours but we were able to purchase 597 New Testaments, 150 complete Bibles (OT and NT), 500 lbs of rice, 375 toothbrushes, 96 tubes of toothpaste (they will have to share), toilet paper, feminine napkins and several hundred bars of soap.
Dinner followed our return and now I’m falling asleep writing this at 9:30pm. Tomorrow is a really early day – we will travel to one prison of 3,000 inmates for a crusade and then return to Yaoundé for our a service at the church where Paul and Mark preaching in the afternoon. It will be, as always, a very long day.
We have a team of veterans and we are all working very well together and accomplishing much through the opportunities God is opening for us.

Monday March 12, 2018

Last night was a good night for most of us. After sleeping five hours on the plane from Paris I was fairly well-rested when we arrived at 7:00pm. Security took a long time as usual and it was about 8:30pm by the time we connected with the Cameroon team for our ride to Indra Hotel, a nice hotel with good accommodations and fairly comfortable beds. After finding our rooms we all walked one block to a Turkish restaurant where we had a very tasty meal of chicken, rice and fried plantains. Dinner was served with salad, french bread, minced eggplant in olive oil and hummus. By the time we made it back to our rooms it was 11:30pm.
I crashed with no hesitation at midnight and slept straight through until 6:00am. Breakfast was at 9:00am which gave me plenty of time for some scripture reading and study and exercise. Greg slept so hard last night that he didn’t wake up until 9:00am. He elected to pass on breakfast but by the time breakfast came he was already downstairs.
Matthew, visiting from Nigeria, is staying at the hotel with us. He is such a wonderful gentle giant, a really big and muscular man with a sweet hard, a constant and contagious smile, and joyful spirit.
Dona, Chantal, Everett, Nicolas and Elias arrived by 10:00 to talk with us about the plans for the rest of the week. Our meeting lasted until about noon and then we went to lunch at the same restaurant where we ate last night. In an effort to make lunch fast and less expensive we ordered pizzas. The food at this restaurant is quite good, but rather expensive.
We left for the first Leadership Conference at 2:00pm, the time we were supposed to be there. This caused us to start 30 minutes late, at 2:30pm. We were supposed to finish by 4:00 but we continued until 5:00pm, still not covering every topic we were hoping to speak about.
We returned to the hotel and Paul talked with Dona and Chantal about changes of plans for the rest of the week. They have changed since this morning’s meeting. We are joking about being like Gumbi – flexible. The meeting lasted more than an hour and a half.
We need to exchange more money so we can purchase all of the humanitarian aid for the week all at once Tuesday afternoon after our all-day Basic Prison Ministry Training Conference.
Our prison schedule has changed on Wednesday – we are going to a prison much closer than we had previously planned. Therefore, we have been asked to preach at the church Wednesday evening, Thursday evening, Friday evening and Sunday morning.
We had a team meeting in the evening before dinner to discuss all of the changes to our itinerary. Paul is doing a great job taking charge of the leadership details. He assigned preaching assignments to each of us according to our wishes. Paul, Greg and Mark are going to tag-team the preaching during the week and I will be preaching the Sunday message at church. Please pray that we will each be well equipped, clear and God-honoring in our messages.
Mark and I stayed behind at the hotel this evening while Paul and Greg went to dinner with Matthew, Dona and Chantal. It was a long and great first full day on the ground in Cameroon.

Layover at Charles De Gaulle

We had an easy and uneventful 9 1/2 hour flight from Seattle. We just met a Seattle-based medical mission team in the airport here in Paris. They are providing glasses to remote tribes in Cameroon. Their team leader, Dan, serves with KIROS prison ministry in the Seattle, having formerly lead the ministry in southern California. He mentioned that he has been to a couple of the prisons in Cameroon in past years. This is their 21st trip.

We have a five hour layover here in France and we will arrive in Yaoundé this evening, starting with an evening of rest and jumping right into work tomorrow, hopefully visiting a prison before teaching our first leadership conference in the capital city tomorrow evening.

We are all in great spirits and very excited to serve as a team this coming week. A short update from a non-eventful day.

Serving the King of Cameroon

As our departure approaches (36 hours away) I am excited to once again be returning to the continent of Africa to be used of the Lord to tell of his son, Jesus Christ, the King of Cameroon and the universe. I am blessed that he has chosen to use me in this way and I am so thankful for all of my prayer and financial supporters that make this Prison Ministry Campaign possible.

As it was prophesied that John the Baptist would be a herald for the coming King, so God has commanded all of his children to be a herald of his second coming. Jesus said “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (Jn 8:36). “The Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor (afflicted); he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound” (the opening of the eyes to those who are blind) – Isa 61, Lk 4:18 – May that be our prayer.

This will be my 15th overseas trip with Prisoners for Christ and the first time for an American team to travel the nation of Cameroon. Pastor Dona has been serving under the umbrella of PFC since we met him 6 years ago in Congo when he traveled there to meet us. He met our PFC team in Nigeria last fall and has been diligently putting our training into practice – he has established regional directors in four other areas of Cameroon. Each of those directors will be with us in Yaoundé for our Prison Ministry Training Conference.

We are scheduled to visit four or five prisons, meet with prison officials and hold one all-day Prison Ministry Training Conference and two evening Leadership Conferences.

The Lord has been leading me to prayer in a much more powerful way than usual and I am very encouraged to be traveling with three dear brothers, all of whom I have served with on the international mission field previously. Greg Von Tobel is the President of Prisoners for Christ (I have traveled about ten times with Greg), Paul Franks serves with me at King County Jail semi-monthly and traveled with me to Liberia and Kenya in recent years, and Mark Richardson serves as Chaplain of the Kent Regional Justice Center (RJC) and I partnered alongside him in Congo a few years ago.

May the name of Jesus be proclaimed, known, praised and worshiped in the prisons of Cameroon.

I love you, O Lord, my strength.

The Lord is my rock, in whom I take refuge,

my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,

and I am saved from my enemies.