Christianity grew from 9% of Africa’s population in the year 1900 to 49% in 2010 (source: Operation World). This growth has massively outstripped the training of leaders; according Dr. Conrad Mbewe, 90% of pastors in Africa are untrained. Without solid, Biblical training for their shepherds, the flock is easy prey for wolves, such as those who preach the prosperity gospel.
In response to this, Bethlehem College and Seminary graduate Dieudonné Tamfu returned to his home country of Cameroon in 2018 to plant a church and start an extension site of Bethlehem Seminary, training pastors with a full, four-year M.Div. curriculum that follows the curriculum at our main site in Minnesota.
This January I spent 11 days in Cameroon, teaching an intensive Hebrew exegesis course on the Psalms, training these students—several of whom are currently pastoring churches—how to better study the Psalms in the original language, and then how to live, pray, teach, and preach them. We studied how to understand Hebrew poetry (analyze the parallelism and imagery instead of looking for rhythm and rhyme), how to read Psalms as a book (and not just as separate Psalms), and what to look for in different kinds of Psalms, all in the context of studying and memorizing Psalms 1, 2, 3, 30, and 146.
What I witnessed in Cameroon in both the church and the seminary encouraged me tremendously. The church was packed, overfilling even the overflow room such that Pastor Dieudonné needed to ask parents to put children on their laps to free up seats. Church members went to the front to recite newly memorized scripture, leaders prayed, and the church sang—all of it alternating between English and French (Cameroon’s two official languages). Pastor Dieudonné preached Mark 7:24–30, using a hard text (where Jesus compares Gentiles to dogs) to expose our pride and to confront us with Jesus’ lordship and our need for Him. After service the church gathered to pray and to evangelize door-to-door.
The seminary students were a tremendous encouragement as well. They were proficient in Hebrew, able to understand and explain the poetic language. Despite the demanding pace of the course, they were prepared for class each day. Furthermore, several students had already graduated, yet they set aside the time for the intensive course in order to build their skills. Most encouraging of all, I got to meet with each of these brothers one-on-one to hear their stories of how they came to Christ, were freed from their sin, and are following His call to plant churches, preach the gospel, and make disciples. What a privilege to have even a small part in equipping such men for a lifetime of ministry!
John Beckman, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Old Testament
- Join us in praying for God to raise up and equip pastors in Cameroon and the surrounding nations. In particular:
- Pray for the pastors from multiple nations who will be coming to Yaoundé, Cameroon next month for their own pastors’ conference that is hosted by the church and seminary there.
- Pray for the seminary students in Cameroon, that the Lord will equip them well, keep them from sin, and build his church through them.
- Pray for the Lord to raise up additional teachers for the seminary. This semester, Dieudonné is teaching 4 classes while pastoring a church and leading both a church and a seminary. He needs more co-workers!
- Pray for Professor Timothée Davi and his family. They are moving to Cameroon on January 31 for him to teach full-time at the seminary. Pray that the Lord would make their ministry fruitful and grant them endurance to work there long term.
- Pray as Serious Joy: The Bethlehem Conference for Pastors begins Monday, for the speakers, the attendees, and those planning.
- Pray for the full funding of the Serious Joy Scholarship.