Friday, January 28, 2005

Prepare Ye the Way

If I’ve said it once in Cameroon, I’ve said it a hundred times … to Leah, to Pastor Billong, to whomever will listen: “If they would only pave the roads!!”

It’s no secret that Cameroon needs a Federal Highway Act. According to one source, only 4,000 of a total 34,000 kilometers of highway is paved in the country. The road between Yaounde and Douala, the main port, is a nice, black-topped two-lane road. And there are bits of road here and there that are drivable.

But the rest of the roads are a mess. There are thousands of kilometers of rutted, gutted, disastrous roads in Cameroon. Not back roads, farm-to-market trails or backpacker treks – roads to important places, major routes of commerce and trade! In the rainy season, large parts of the country are virtually inaccessible.

There is no doubt that the country would develop more quickly if cars, trucks, buses, and other forms of transportation could easily and safely move from one place to another in a reasonable amount of time.

And yes, the work of the Mission would become easier, too. Cameroon is not a tremendously large country; with decent roads, I could take longer trips in shorter amounts of time. And our pastors could travel from village to village, starting new churches and prayer groups more easily than they do now.

Alas, it’s no use wasting any energy complaining about the roads.

But this situation does provide me with a nifty metaphor for my own ministry. I am discovering that my mission here, as Director of Mission, is to … well, pave roads!

I’m borrowing John the Baptist’s words here, but he said that his mission was to make straight paths, level hills, raise valleys, and prepare a clearly-marked, paved path for the Lord. I think I’ve got the same job.

My task isn’t to drive people down the road, or even to put them on the road headed in the right direction. That’s the job of all our pastors and evangelists. My job isn’t to head up driving schools, and issue driver’s licenses, making sure that everybody obeys all the road rules and keeps to the speed limit. That’s what our teachers do. I’m not trying to do what choir leaders or church council chairpersons or Bible study leaders are supposed to.

No, I’m simply the guy in the hard-hat, filling potholes and pouring concrete, to make the way easier for the gospel to be proclaimed, and people to be sent out, and for people to come into the kingdom.

You know, if it’s a good, solid road, it’ll last for a long time.