Thursday, July 21, 2005

Pastor Billong in America

I am happy to report that Pastor Jean-Daniel Billong is on his way to America this weekend. He’ll be spending a week at the Boy Scout Jamboree in Virginia, then flying on to Dallas/Fort Worth to spend two weeks in the North Texas Conference.

While there, he’ll be staying with members of the VIM team who visited in February, and speaking at several churches, including Chinn’s Chapel UMC on August 7 and Chapel Hill UMC on August 14. If you live in the Dallas area and are interested in meeting Pastor Billong, then let me know and I’ll put you in touch with his trip coordinators.

Pastor Billong is a wonderful pastor, full of energy, charm and humor. He’s a powerful preacher and an even better singer! If you see him, make sure you ask him to sing you a song.
Pastor Billong, or Pastor Bill as he is commonly known, has been an essential component of the Cameroon Mission Initiative for several years. And he’s been vital to me and Maman Leah. He’s bilingual, for one thing. Actually, make that multilingual … besides French and English, he speaks several maternal tongues. He is my communication link with other pastors, government officials, and market vendors.

He’s also served as what we call our “culture broker.” We learned this phrase while in missionary training. A “culture broker” is someone who helps a newcomer adapt, learn, and understand the customs, nuances, and workings of a society.

Many times I have had a conversation with someone and then turned to Pastor Billong and asked, “So what did I just agree to do?” He’s helped me get through policy security checks, acquire identity cards, and pay less for a bunch of bananas.

Besides his help in the office, he’s also the National Youth Director. I look forward to the months ahead, because I believe that as I become more comfortable in the culture, he will be free to concentrate more of his time in doing youth ministry. That’s what he really wants to be doing.

And that’s why it’s great that he can attend the Jamboree, and bring back a plan for spreading Scouting through the United Methodist Church of Cameroon.

Take good care of him while he’s there, but please … PLEASE … send him back home when it’s time!