November 24, 2023 By Carlito Alberto
“Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We’ve seen his star in the east, and we’ve come to honor him.”
Matthew 2:2 (CEB)
YAOUNDÉ, CAMEROON – The wise men heard about the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem of Judea during the time of King Herod. The Scripture urges us to remember Christ’s birth and to worship him during Advent so that we can let Christ be born in our hearts, lives, families and countries. We are thankful during this time as the wise men were, after seeing and following the star, they rejoiced exceedingly when they saw the child with Mary his mother and worshipped him.
I am thankful, too, to be serving God has a Global Mission Fellow in Cameroon. I grew up speaking Portuguese in Angola, and I left my home in Nzagi Cambulo in the Lunda Norte province at age 16 to continue my education at the Quéssua UMC mission men’s boarding school. It was difficult to leave home and I faced challenges at Quéssua, but God used this place to bless me. At Quéssua, I met Global Ministries missionaries, including the Rev. Dr. Leonardo Garcia Salgado and Kutela Katembo. The UMC Florida Annual Conference Global Mission Team director, Dr. Icel Rodriguez and her group, also supported me at Quéssua.
I learned much there, where my life was positively influenced as a Christian. Dr. Garcia appointed me as a chaplain in Quéssua’s Manga Chapel. I learned about church finance, evangelism, sacred music and preaching. By age 20, I entered the Quéssua Faculty of Theology, and after some challenges, Bishop Jose Quipungo, of the East Angola Conference, recommended me to Africa University in Zimbabwe to continue my studies for a Bachelor of Divinity.
As a Global Mission Fellow, I serve with The United Methodist Church in Cameroon, a district of the Côte d’Ivoire Episcopal Area and a former Global Ministries’ mission initiative, and I see Christ working in the lives of the people every day. United Methodism is one of many Protestant church denominations here, and there are many Roman Catholic churches and Islam has some influence, but most people are Christian. Like the wise men, when they experience Jesus, they rejoice! They pray, sing and seek first God’s Kingdom. And this is not easy for all of them.
Bekaku, one of the UMC youth members, says in his area in the northwestern part of the country, Boko Haram, known for kidnapping and terror, has been active over the border from Nigeria. Mercy Ako, mother of one of the children I teach, says the same. In some regions, peace is far off and fear prevails.