Sunday, January 01, 2006

Cell Growth

Pastor Monique is not yet an “official” pastor of the United Methodist Church of Cameroon, but she sure acts like one! I only met her about seven or eight months ago, when she was pastoring a small Pentecostal church in her home.

She was interested in learning about us Methodists, and I visited her worship service twice to talk to her congregation about what it meant to be Methodist. Her home was located on a steep hill in the southern part of Yaounde. I sometimes worried that a sudden rain storm would wash our Toyota Land Cruiser down the mountain!

The majority of her little group decided to become a Methodist cell group (though she did lose a few members over the decision), and follow the steps needed to become a full-fledged church. They have been working “the plan” faithfully, and Pastor Monique has been a regular attender at our Wednesday morning office prayer meetings, as well as several School of Ministry sessions, even though she is not on the payroll and doesn’t receive any financial support from the Mission yet.

Just a few months ago, ahead of schedule, the Mission decided to help the group find a better worship space, and rented a small hall near a main road for them. I sensed that good things were happening at Monique’s place … and they are!

I took the whole family to visit Monique’s cell group this morning, to celebrate New Year’s Day with them … and boy, were we blown away! The last time I visited her group, there were no more than 20 people gathered for worship. But today, there were 24 adults and 26 children. Now that’s some church growth for ya!

The children had prepared a special presentation on the birth of Jesus, complete with a dramatic sketch, recitations, songs and dances. Then they presented Maman Leah with a bouquet of flowers.

Meanwhile, our three daughters had in their arms an endlessly-rotating supply of babies. They don’t generally like attending church in Cameroon, because the services are so much longer than what they are used to. (Even today, as we were driving home, Mallory complained, “That service seemed like ten hours!”) But they do enjoy the singing and dancing, and they absolutely adore babies. Monique’s church is full of infants – I counted at least five.

That’s a great sign for an infant church! And a beautiful way to start a new year.