Cameroon 1973: It´s Sunday morning and members of a Christian church are worshipping together. They sense they are lacking something in their life with God – the preaching is dry. “Come, let us pray to God to send us an answer,” says one of the ministers. They pray to God for help and guidance, after which one of the men pulls out a little pamphlet he’s been carrying around in his pocket. On it is the address of a group of believers in France. “It might be an answer to our prayers,” the man says hopefully, and they decide to make contact with these believers in France.
Where do I go from here?
Cameroon 1978: Claude is twenty-one years old. He sits down on a bench in the old church building, and as he listens to the message, his heart burns with a desire to live for Jesus. He prays to God and is converted. “My sins are forgiven!” he thinks to himself with a smile.
A few weeks pass by, and he keeps asking himself: “Where do I go from here?” As he walks to church, he has no idea that on this Sunday, his question is going to be answered.
Taking his place on the bench, Claude looks around. In the front row sit two white men. He is curious, but he can’t help but wonder. His thoughts go to the many missionaries who have come to his country. “They come with money,” Claude thinks. “They see we are poor, Africa is poor. And my people are more interested in money than in the preaching.”
“This is the truth, Claude!”
It’s not long before one of the two men is asked to say something. Almost immediately, Claude sees that there is something different about this man. “We do not show that we love God when we come to Him and say, ‘Dear God, forgive me all my sins, and throw it into the sea of forgetfulness.’ Of course, we need to do that, but that is not proof that we love God.” “When we let the Word of God and the Spirit show us our egoism, pride, arrogance, uncleanness, etc. and we admit it and repent from it, then we begin to show that we truly love God!”
The words speak to Claude’s heart as he listens closely. Something inside him speaks loud and clear. “This is the truth, Claude! This is the way to go. This man is full of Godly fear, and he is speaking the truth!”
The man continues, “Those that are upright test themselves. Then the Holy Spirit can show them the truth about themselves, where they are still bound to sin, and then the truth can make them free from sin!” (John 8:32.)
“Free from sin.” These are words Claude has never heard before, and they fill him with joy. He can’t wait until the end of the service to talk to these men and find out more about the life they are preaching. A life – a family life and a personal life – free from sin!
Cameroon 1982: Travel isn’t easy, there isn’t internet yet, and letters take one month to send and receive, but Claude and one of the men from France, Arild, keep writing to each other often. Claude is eager to learn more about this Christianity, and Arild takes the time to answer his questions in detail.
Claude then starts putting the things he learnt into action in his own life. One day, when he is talking to a man in town, he feels that he has to share what has made him so happy. He says, “When I am tempted to be angry, for example, I need to admit that anger is a sin, and then I take up my cross and say No to it!” “Are you a pastor?” the man asks. “I am not a pastor,” Claude replies, “I am a Christian.”
A seed that grew
It started with a few souls who had a longing for the truth. A seed was sown when men like Arild preached God’s word in a simple and clear way. These men didn’t offer money; they preached God’s word and were living examples of God’s word.
Over time, Claude and others understood that it was their own sin that was making them unhappy, and the seed grew as they learnt to take up their cross and say No to the sin they were tempted to. (Matthew 16:24.) They learnt to do God’s word in simple faithfulness at home, to fight a conscious battle against sin in obedience to God when no one else was watching, and soon God’s word also became their lives. Others saw something different in them and then these also longed for the same life.
The seed continued to grow, and then it began to bear fruit. These men and women received a great happiness that they had never experienced before, a happiness and joy that came when they learnt to live a life where they never gave in to the sins they were tempted to, a life of freedom from sin!
“To tell or preach something is one thing, but there has to be a life behind what you say. First live the life – afterwards you can help people. I need to be righteous in my hidden life and have a connection with God - first!!” (Claude, 2012.)