Konroy & Heidi Boeckel’s
A time for family, friends, giving gifts, bonding, renewing friendships, a message of hope, a showing of gratitude and compassion, and a reflection on what is truly important in life. These things are often overshadowed by the stress preparing for Christmas brings to many people. If one of my African friends would visit me if I were in the U.S. in December, I wonder if he would say, “Do they know it’s Christmastime at all?” Perhaps he would flip the cards on Bono. We often see ourselves as reaching out to people on the other side of the world, but what if they have something to offer us?
Do we Americans even have the hope to look up at the stars on Christmas Eve and take a moment to take it all in, as Mary & Joseph may have done? Shootings, political uncertainty, unaffordable medical needs: times are difficult in Cameroon. Yes, these are all real issues Cameroonians are currently facing. And yet at the same time, stories of hope never cease. This Christmas season, perhaps we can inspire each other from one country to the other. Here are a few inspirational tidbits from this year:
In 1978 a missionary family moved to Cameroon, Africa, to work among the Makaa people, population of nearly 200,000 people. Now, 39 years later, the Makaa New Testament is complete! This family was able to continue work on the translation because all 3 of their (now grown) children were able to attend Rain Forest International School, where Konroy teaches. Praise God that His Word is available to the Makaa people! The word is spreading, and now the “mayors” of local villages are asking for literacy and translation work to be started in their languages as well (see link below).
More great news from Cameroon for this holiday season: “I entered Rain Forest as a wild untamed cheetah. Boarding school had carved me into something not unlike a rock. I trusted no one, liked no one, I cared for no one. I never shared, I never asked, I depended on me, myself, and I, my problems were mine to keep and others’ problems were theirs to swallow.
“Displaying feelings was for the weak. I never cried. I was strong. Nobody could ever hurt me. I had a very sharp tongue. I said everything that crossed my mind. I had no filter. It was better in a way, because when I took my time to think, I would select the most detestable things to say. Hurting people made me happy and made me feel better about myself. I believed in God, but I never really understood why he would care about me. I didn’t understand how predestination and free will worked together. Sometimes I was convinced that I was predestined to be mean and evil.
“Rain Forest was a new beginning for me. I had taken the initiative to change. It was the most difficult thing I had ever done. Today, my wall is in ruins. Being in Rain Forest destroyed the sky high wall I had established around me. Now I can feel.” From a recent RFIS graduate.
While teaching Middle School Math or Computer at RFIS, I (Konroy) sometimes look at the rows of students, and starting from one end of the row to the other, think about the projects each of their parents represent here in Cameroon. The majority of the students have parents who are involved in church planting, Bible translation, medical training, and agriculture development. Teaching is more than just teaching a classroom full of kids. One of the parents of my math students currently teaches in a seminary here in Cameroon. Who knows how many local Cameroonian Pastors will bring their villages to a greater hope in this life and the next. In fact, just last week the Yemba Bible was completed and dedicated. This is the first time these people can read the Bible in a language they fully understand—their heart language. Their stories make it worth every moment and every penny.
Sometimes hope comes in December and leaves in January. Sometimes it takes 91 years of development. In 1926, the New Testament of the the Bulu (Bum) language group in Cameroon was completed. It was not until 1940 that the entire Bible for this group was completed. A revised edition was released in 2004. Work continues to this day.
According to The Joshua Project, one half million people in Cameroon still do not have any access to the Bible in a language they fully understand, audio nor written! This is one of the may reasons why we continue to stay in Cameroon. The miracle is that the remaining 23.5 million people of Cameroon have access to at least parts of the written and/or audio Bible in their heart language!
The miracle is that God didn’t just tell people he loves us. He proved it by entering this world in the most volunable way. Now, nations still celebrate the hope that was birthed into this world so may Christmases ago – that God so loved the world that He sent His only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.