Mission History in Cameroon
The Lutheran Church of Cameroon (LCC) was begun by Christians that crossed the border from Nigeria into Cameroon to escape war. These Christians recognized a need for help in theology and finance. In 1970 Pastor Paul Chonasen of the LCC requested affiliation with WELS. After Missionary E.H. Wendland visited Cameroon at the end of 1971, he recommended helping the small church body.
In 1975 another field visit was made by world mission administrators, and later that year WELS adopted Cameroon as a new mission field. However, because the church body (now under the leadership of Pastor Bruno Njume) was not yet officially registered with the government, no missionaries could be called to live there. A visit in 1977 and 1978 revealed no progress in the registration process. Provisional approval from the government allowed the start of a series of biennial, two-week teaching visits. The first session from May 6-23, 1979, was instructed by Zambia missionaries E.H. Wendland and R. Cox. Four pastors of the LCC attended. In 1988 WELS began training church workers by sending missionaries to Cameroon on a visitor’s visa for two-week on-field training programs. This was done about two times per year with as many as nine LCC pastors attending the classes.
In the 1990s with government registration complete and funds available from a special “Lift High the Cross” offering, WELS was ready to send two missionaries to Cameroon for a five-year period that included searching out capable nationals to train for ministry and to carry out a four-year seminary training program.
In 1994 Missionary Ray Cox and his wife, Lois, who had been serving the Lutheran Church of Central Africa in Malawi, accepted the call to Cameroon to head the seminary training program. After selecting candidates for the seminary program and beginning the seminary, Missionary Cox returned to the States for health reasons after serving about one year.
Missionary Norbert Meier and his wife arrived in 1995 to join Missionary and Mrs. Cox. Missionary Meier taught all four years of seminary classes from 1995 through March 1999.
Other missionaries and lay workers who have served in Cameroon are:
- Pastor Salimo Hachibamba from the Lutheran Church of Africa Seminary in Lusaka, Zambia, finished out the year when Missionary Cox found he needed to leave
- Missionary Carl Henkel was granted a one-year leave from his congregation to teach the second year of seminary classes in 1996-1997.
- Missionary Del Kannenberg and his wife arrived in October 1997 and taught the last two years of seminary classes. After seminary graduation Missionary Kannenberg remained until March 2001 to help the new pastors get started in their ministry, conduct conferences, and begin lay worker training.
- WELS Kingdom Worker Bill Meier, who had worked in the Lutheran Church of Central Africa field, was in Cameroon in 1999 while Missionary Kannenberg and his wife were on a one-month furlough.
- Missionary Daniel Westendorf and his wife joined the Kannenbergs from October 1999-October 2000.
- Mr. Aaron Bublitz and his wife, Laura, served as WELS Kingdom Workers doing administrative work from January 2001-April 2003.
- Missionary Keith Haag and his wife, Ardis, served from January 2001-October 2002.
- WELS Kingdom Worker Ralph Lovely served from April 2003-June 2004.
- Missionary Richard Warnke and his wife, Sally, served from June 2003-September 2005. They were the first missionaries given a permanent call to Cameroon. Before this missionaries had served for a stated or limited period of time.
- WELS Kingdom Worker Loren Bloomquist and his wife, Marianne, served from April 2004-April 2005.
- WELS Kingdom Worker Ron Stelljes and his wife, Molly, served from April 2005-February 2006.
- WELS Kingdom Worker Jim Schlote and his wife, Ginger, served from December 2005-March 2007.
- After calling for two years, Missionary Dan Myers arrived on field with his wife, Peggy in August 2007. In July of 2011, they left Cameroon unexpectedly due to Missionary Myers health. He served as WELS stateside administrator to Cameroon, until the time of his death in August 2013.
- Vicar Justin Dauck served under Missionary Myers from August 2009- August 2010.
- Vicar Joel Hoff also served under Missionary Myers from September 2010- August 2011. Due to Missionary Myers health crisis, Pastor Joel Hoff returned with his wife, Kate, to assist WELS in overseeing the mission from August 2012-May 2013.
- Missionary Dan Kroll arrived in June 2014, his wife Karen and sons followed in September. Missionary Kroll’s work includes establishing an indigenous worker training program, continuing education for national pastors, and supervising lay-leader training.
- Pastor Jeff Heitsch was called as a part-time (second) missionary to Cameroon and part-time missionary to Nigeria. He and his wife Stephanie arrived in Cameroon on October 1, 2017. However, due to the political strife, they returned to the United States in April of 2018 and are currently serving in a state-side ministry.