By Jacqueline Zoutene, Bible Society of Cameroon
Usually, large gatherings are banned in Cameroon’s Far North region, due to high security risks – Boko Haram has carried out a number of deadly attacks there. But on June 4, the iconic mountains near Mogodé – a town very close to the Nigerian border – witnessed an unprecedented crowd of 5,000 Kapsiki people celebrating the launch of the first Bible in their language. 250 soldiers
Special authorisation was granted to hold the gathering, and 250 soldiers were provided for protection by the general in charge of the region’s armed forces.
The day before the launch, the town organised a grand parade to welcome the new Bibles as special guests of honour as they arrived in the back of a military truck. Even the trees were decorated! In fact, the convoy carrying the new Bibles, Bible Society staff and soldiers, received a rapturous welcome in every Kapsiki village that it passed during its 120km journey from the Bible Society’s offices in Maroua to Mogodé.
As the truck pulled up outside the Catholic Church, a crowd of joyful Kapsiki Christians surrounded it. Their singing and dancing continued late into the night.
The following day, everyone wore their best outfits and made their way to the municipal stadium. They were treated to wonderful singing and dancing by choirs and traditional dancing groups, who had arrived much earlier. The official ceremony began once everyone had arrived, including government, religious and military authorities, Kapsiki leaders and members of the Kapsiki community from different towns and villages in Cameroon.
At last the moment came that everyone had been waiting for: the presentation of the new Bible. It received the honour due to a King. Wrapped in cloth, it was held by a child who was carried into the stadium by two men in a solemn procession, accompanied by a group of singers. The Bible was given to Bible Society General Secretary Luc Gnowa, who uncovered it and presented it to the crowd, encouraging them to make good use of it.
The mayor of Mogodé did not hide his joy. The Kapsiki Bible had arrived at a time when his people needed to get to know their Creator more than ever before, he said, and that reading the whole Word of God in their heart language was the best way to do this. He encouraged all Kapsiki speakers, whether they still lived in the region or not, to learn to read and write their own language to preserve it and, in so doing, preserve their own roots.
Kneeling before everyone
A collection was taken to help other people in Cameroon who do not yet have the Bible in their language. The crowd was greatly moved by Pastor Kodji Yohanna, who was the first to donate. Kneeling before everyone, he raised the Bible above his head and thanked God for it.
“It is something to be proud of,” said Faveu, who was one of many people who bought a Bible at the end of the ceremonie. “This will be my pillow. I’ll read it every day, all the time!” He began reading it straight away.
Several months ago a Kapsiki pastor, Kokji Nahou, had declared in faith, “There won’t be any problems – the celebration will take place.” And, despite considerable security challenges, he was right, and thousands of people were able to attend. For the Bible Society, it was a risk that paid off, and a great cause for thanksgiving.
Please join us in praying for the Kapsiki people of Cameroon – that they will read their new Bible and live out and share their faith in safety.