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Sunday message: “When one part hurts, every other part is affected” – A service of lament and a focus on the Southern Cameroon crisis

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Fourth Sunday of Epiphany – January 27, 2019

Scripture readings:

Psalm 74:1-11, Lamentations 3:1-9, 1 Corinthians 12:12-26

Pain in our bodies has a way of telling us that we need to give attention to the spot where it hurts. Of course, it ranges from drastic to other times when it’s more subtle. Paul the apostle describes this well. He describes the church in such terms. He wants the believers to know that every part of the body of Christ (his image for the church) needs attention.

Even in engineering there are many examples of the smallest component that can not be overlooked.

One classic, albeit tragic, example of how each component of a body, or structure, is essential is the tragedy of the space shuttle Challenger which broke up two minutes after lift-off on January 28, 1986.

What went wrong with the space shuttle? Things shouldn’t go wrong with such sophisticated technological designs.

Still, a very small, and relatively inexpensive piece of equipment (the O-Rings) failed. How much did these O-rings cost? Some say $45. Even if it cost $1,000, it is nothing compared with the cost of the Challenger disaster which was pegged at a staggering $3.2B! The whole launch aborted in one massive tragedy where seven lives were lost.

In a very similar way the church of Christ, the body of Christ, is composed of various different individuals. In the case of Dayspring, some are leaders, some sing, then there are those who fix the building, a whole wonderful variety, some are from various cultural, social and economical backgrounds. We all come in different colours, shapes, ages and forms. Yet each one is an essential component of the body of Christ. One cannot function without the other. Our body needs all the various members to function according to the way God hasengineered” us. We have been created for a purpose. And using our individual God-given gifts collectively will allow our church body to prosper and live a full and healthy life. And just like the shuttle, if one of us suffers or fails, then everyone suffers.

If a part of the world, such as Cameroon, South Africa, the Philippines or Trinidad suffers in a larger or lesser way, we all suffer.

We will now listen to Jay Anye sharing with us the suffering that Cameroon in particular is undergoing. We can only pray that God will have mercy on the people who are seriously suffering.

A Summary of the Southern Cameroons Crisis.

 The Anglophone crisis in south Western Cameroon owes it origin from the failed decolonization process of the British Southern Cameroons. At the end of Wold War 1, the League of Nations divided the German colony of Kamerun between France and Britain. In 1960, French Cameroon gained her independence and became the Republic of Cameroon. In 1961 the British controlled Southern Cameroons achieved her independence through a plebiscite to join the Republic of Cameroon to form the Federal Republic of Cameroon, made of two states of equal status.

The constitution of the newly established Federation, guaranteed the respect for the cultural identity of the Anglophone region. Unfortunately, these guarantees were never respected and the Anglophone cultural identity, educational and judicial system were gradually eroded as the regime imposed cultural assimilation of the Anglophone state.

In Oct 2016, lawyers went on a strike in an effort to force the government to stop appointing francophone judges who spoke no English and had no training in common law to preside over Anglophone (common law) courts. They were later joined by teachers who demanded that francophone teachers who spoke no English be withdrawn from English schools as well. While the demonstrations were peaceful, police forces violently dispersed the crowd and manhandled some of the lawyers and teachers. This angered the civil society and students who came out to support the teachers and lawyers. This was followed by heavy militarization of English speaking citizens and the declaration of war on the Anglophone region (Southern Cameroons). Killings and arrests have always been the tactic of this regime that has held onto power with just a single President since 1982 (about 36 years).

The war, which has been described as genocide is now in its second year and counting. The statistics have been quite unsettling with more than 200 villages burnt down by government forces, more than 50,000 refugees in neighboring Nigeria, more than 200,000 internally displaced persons, an unknown number of people are living in the forest and bushes with no clothes, drinking water or proper hygienic conditions for nursing mothers ,and children. The number of people (including women and children) killed is estimated to more than 4000. Thousands of Southern Cameroonians are illegally arrested and held in prisons without charge. Schools shut down since Oct 2016 has not yet resumed and Anglophone children have no schools to attend. Hospitals and other vital services are equally shut down. And the French dominated government continues to prevent human rights groups and humanitarian organizations from accessing the two regions affected.

Surprisingly, the international community has been silent or offered merely lip service as our people continue to be slaughtered. There have been calls for dialogue to address the root causes of the problem but the regime has consistently ignored. This is just a very brief synopsis of the ongoing calamity in Southern Cameroons.

We thank the Dayspring Presbyterian Church for sympathizing with the Southern Cameroonian community and praying for us. We pray and hope that your prayers will touch our politicians and other world leaders to intervene and stop the genocide by looking for an immediate and long lasting solution to the crisis. God bless you all. (Script by Jay Anye)


Copyright 2019 – Heinrich Grosskopf, Minister of Dayspring Presbyterian Church and Jay Anye, a member of the Cameroonian community that attends Dayspring Presbyterian Church.

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