Findings and Dreams of 10 years in the Tropics

13 December 2014 •

With the help of God, on November 25, 2014, ten years have been completed since the unfathomable and infinite mercy of our Lord appointed me as a bishop to the Holy Metropolis of Cameroon, in order to minister in this field of the work of the Apostles.

I do not think that the ten years of my ministry are enough for me to extract conclusions and be regarded as a specialist or take them as a reason for celebration. I believe though, that it is a great opportunity for reflection and self-criticism upon which the steps of the next five –maybe, by the grace of God, even ten- years should be carefully planned.

The experiences of this decade are plentiful and condensed. Some articles that occasionally saw the light of publicity in various missionary magazines could be described as “decompression efforts” of these experiences and mostly as efforts to create a dialogue towards all the ecclesiastical and non-ecclesiastical directions.

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Thus, I believe that all this has remained within the boundaries of a monologue with a charm that stems from the harsh beauty of the African landscape, the raw reality of all-surrounding death and the image of the priest going from place to place, striving to preach the Word of God.

Throughout this decade there have been individuals or people organized in associations and charities who have supported the missionary work with faith and trust and are worthy of the Church’s praise, which they will receive from the Impartial Judge and Great Gift-Giver Lord.

However, my ultimate goal in life was not to become either a writer of travel impressions or a research scholar in anthropology, but to define to the Church that sent me here the “size” of my “field” and the unique opportunity given to us in our chaotic era to preach Christ, to penetrate into a primitive society and its principle of formation based on the European model and to lay Christ as its basis and foundation, embodying in all its splendor the silent and apparent love of the “Good Samaritan” and correcting the indifference and superficiality of the “priest” and the “Levite”, which always carries the taste of bitterness…

In these ten years, God has filled me with events and gestures of touching love coming from simple people, but always and continually, with bitter flavors -with very few exceptions- from people who are still believed to serve the same purpose, namely the Gospel, maybe expressed in a different way, which persistently eludes me…

It is an undeniable fact that modern societies are tired and ageing because of time compression and modern life’s over-consumption, which they have imposed upon themselves due to their long indifference to the public affairs…

Some unashamed professional demagogues increased and exploited this indifference, ravaged and devastated “what belonged to the people” causing all this global chaos, the consequences of which we are experiencing as a crisis and disease, awaiting the recovery or some divine intervention in the form of financial assistance…

What I find totally inconceivable, though, is the ‘lethargy’ of the Gospel guardians and their alignment with the demagogues of the time! The help on the part of soup kitchens and social grocery stores is unquestionably immense, but it is not the solution to this problem…

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The charity work which a missionary division offers is necessary, but it cannot be regarded as its primary purpose… The purpose is solely Christ and His will, that is, the Gospel, and this is not the dissemination of an idea or a worldview… It is “the light” and “the truth” and “the way” and “the life of the world”, and this is the way we should talk about Christ and live with Him.

Christ always spoke to people in such a way that no one had ever spoken before, and he virtually opened people’s eyes into another morality and not into another moralistic life form. This is the reason why he did not hesitate to criticize any form of authority or faith in His time as well as any type of world hierarchy…

I would say with certainty that the Lord tried to instill this critical look into the world in his contemporaries, that is, in the ordinary people and not only in His disciples, wishing to make them smarter against the secularization of the religious people and the greed of political demagoguery…

Of course the reaction on the part of His society was to send Him to the Cross… but then the Cross was followed by the Resurrection, the Ascension, the Pentecost and the tangible blessings that stem from all this for believers and unbelievers…

Conveying the Gospel means conveying the will of God, which is the reason why we go around the African Continent, wearing out ourselves to the extent possible, thinking that what we do aims at the glory of the Church and might be heard by God after our own crucifixion…

But how many wonderful things could be done if the Church that sent us here leaned over us out of brotherly love in strengthening and support of our humble work?

How many wonderful miracles would we live, if some clergymen had the courage to come out of the “national monism” of their faith and stand shoulder to shoulder with us in the streets of nations and in the ends of the earth, where our poor brothers give their struggle for survival?

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How different would the image of our Church in the world be, if we believed in “the work of the Apostles to all nations”?

This is what I dream of on the long, rainy, tropical nights and from the beauty of those dreams I draw courage and hope to continue this largely solitary journey knowing deep down that probably after many years, some workers of the Gospel of another generation can fulfill them and live them…

Thanks be to Thee, O Lord!

With undivided love unto all those longing for the coming of our Lord.

† Gregory of Cameroon

 

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