Sisters and Brothers,
I urgently call you to prayer for our partners and friends in Cameroon, a nation divided by language between French-speaking and English-speaking regions. Tensions have risen to a deadly and inflammatory level as English-speaking citizens have petitioned, unsuccessfully, for translation of important document from their original French into English. The escalation has resulted in many deaths and most recently a group of armed men entered the campus of the Presbyterian Secondary School (PSS) a Nkwen, Bamenda, and abducted 78 students and three staff members, according to a statement by the Rt. Rev. Samuel Fonki, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Cameroon (PCC). We rejoice in the release of the students today but continue to pray for staff.
In addition, the government, intending to quell the political protests, closed several businesses and shut down the internet access in the two English-speaking provinces. In addition:
- seven of the PCC’s health centers are non-functional because of the crisis;
- eight of the church’s thirty presbyteries are affected, with 128 parishes unable to function normally;
- church hospitals have been vandalized and nurses and doctors are afraid to work;
- only slightly more than a third of the church’s 223 private schools even partially opened their doors for the 2017/2018 year;
- eight of the 22 secondary schools had to be handed over to a local congregation for management and care
In October 2017, the PCC issued a statement that opened with a prophetic call for peace:
“At a time when fear and uncertainty are looming in the air, as a time when emotions have taken over reason, at a time when the sacredness of human life has been defiled, at a time when we are creating more enemies than friends, at a time when division seems to be destroying the unity of our people, and at a time when we do not seem to trust each other, we are here again to remind all Presbyterians and the people of Cameroon of our collective responsibility and role as a church and as a people in these trying moments of our nation’s history.”
At no time have the people of Cameroon faced more violence and disruption as they face now. In the vanguard of the efforts to calm the situation and create the possibility for peace across the nation stand our sisters and brothers of the Presbyterian Church of Cameroon (PCC). It is incumbent upon us all to lift our voices to God in prayer, calling for calm among all the parties and asking God to shape the will of those in authority to seek peaceful and just solutions to the escalating conflict.
In the name of the One who is the Prince of Peace,
The Reverend Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
from the Office of the General Assembly