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New worker training program starting in Cameroon

The Lutheran Church of Cameroon is taking a big step toward becoming an independent church body by calling its first full-time Cameroonian teacher and dean of students for its worker training program in Kumba, Cameroon. Rev. Mesue Israel, the church’s only second-generation pastor, has accepted the call. Plans are to start the program in September.

“[Having] a Cameroonian man on campus will help to make this a truly Cameroonian worker training program,” says Rev. Daniel Kroll, missionary in Cameroon. “That means that much application will be made to ministry in Cameroon that we from WELS might not be able to understand or explain.”

Israel has been a pastor in the Lutheran Church of Cameroon since his graduation in 1999. A bone disease he contracted in 2008 makes it difficult for him to move freely, which, Kroll says, allows him to study more. “He has been outspoken and is not afraid to tackle hard issues; he is straight-forward and fair,” says Kroll. “Pastor Israel gives credit to God for teaching him perseverance through the difficulties of his disease and his ministry.”

Israel will be responsible for teaching several of the courses as well as for enforcing rules for campus life. The campus has modest dormitories where students will live from September through mid-May, with two weeks off at the end of each quarter to go home to see their families and tend their crops. After the two-year Bible institute, students will immediately begin three years of seminary studies and then be eligible for a call.

Currently 10 pastors serve 32 congregations in Cameroon. Thirteen men have been selected from among 31 certified assistants to start classes this fall. These certified assistants have had limited training but help their supervising pastor with keeping records, teaching Sunday school, and occasional preaching.

Having a Cameroonian man involved in the training of church workers is important for the future of the Lutheran Church of Cameroon. “Funding, health issues, government regulations, and a host of other matters can create problems for us keeping a missionary here,” says Kroll. This is actually the first active called worker training program in Cameroon since 1999 because of turnover in missionaries and other issues.

He continues, “But even if there is a lack of a missionary (or inconsistency thereof), we hope to create a program that will have some consistency for many years to come.”

Learn more about the Lutheran Church of Cameroon at wels.net/missions and in the March issue of Forward in Christ.