The Colbert Factor:
Redeemer Baptist Church/CBC Saga: All ‘in God’s Name’
In ancient times, and even today, the paramount King of the Kom Kingdom would often send a message to a particular village or another Kingdom through a messanger, referred to in Komland as ‘ntumfoyn’. When the messanger or ‘ntunfoyn’ appears in that particular village or another Kingdom with the royal spear, he is considered and treated in much the same way a fon would.
At the moment the ‘ntumfoyn’ or messager is about delivering the message, all bona fide komnians are expected to maintain dead silence while the Fon’s message is delivered. Sometimes the main messager simply holds the royal spear, symbol of Fon’s presence, while another member of entourage does the talking, (since by Kom tradition the King doesn’t talk directly to commons). By the time the message is being delivered, the messager is having the authority of the Fon. He therefore speaks in the name of the Fon of Kom.
In the Roman Empire, the King’s letter would have a wax seal on it, and unto this seal, the King would have pressed his stamp (literarily a stamp of authority). This would tell the people that the messager had, indeed, come in the will and authority of the king.
The same therefore, is supposed to hold true for those who have been entrusted the authority on earth to speak on behalf of God’s people. If someone truly is doing something ‘in God’s name’, then that means that it is according to God’s will and by His authority.
Last week, the Leadership of the Cameroon Baptist Convention, the CBC, under Rev.Dr. Nditemeh Charlemange, went into open confrontation with the Pastor of the Redeemer Baptist Church, Mile III, Nkwen-Bamenda, Rev. Sam Jato, over the ownership of that Church. The misunderstanding have been brewing underground since 2004. Rev. Dr. Nditemeh Charlemange, who is new Executive President of the CBC, is having stiff and open resistance from an ordained CBC Pastor, Rev. Sam Jato, who swears on his honour, and ‘in the name of God’, that Mile III Redeemer Baptist Church, RBC, is not the property of the Cameroon Baptist Convention, CBC.
Equally armed with documentation in his keeping that was handed over by his predecessors, Rev. Dr. Charlemange swears ‘in God’s name’ and on his honour too, that NETS-the American missionaries who funded the Redeemer Baptist Church from scratch to finish-confirms RBC is CBC property. This saga comes to add to the Belo Field crisis that led to the breakaway of some christians of Kom extraction from mainstream CBC and the brewing Coastal conflict over the overbearing grassfield dominance of CBC leadership.
The millions of Christians who rely on the two men of God for their faith have, since the outbreak of this one-too-many conflicts, been having challenging times deciphering which of the two ‘truths’ is a lie.
Although in Shakespeare’s play: ‘Macbeth’, ‘Two truths are told as happy prologues to the swelling acts of the imperial throne’, and although it didn’t take long for Macbeth to become Thane of Cawdor and later, King after murdering Duncan; the truths in the saga between the ‘body of Christ’, represented by the CBC, and that represented by RBC, are more complex than those in the famous riddle in Jennifer Connelly’s movie, the ‘Labyrinth’, about the doors to Heaven and Hell.
Like in David Yallop’s book: ‘In God’s Name’, the Redeemer Baptist Church/CBC saga beautifully illustrates the paradox of political institutions of religion versus the spiritual faith. Only that unlike the dreaded Muteff village deity of the Grand Order of Natang Yoh (juju) that is quick to anger and slow to forgive, God on the contrary, is slow to anger and quick to forgive. The two men of God may continue to withhold the labyrinth of which of the truths is a lie, counting on God’s slowness to be angered.
Unlike they who can afford to swear ‘in the name of God’ and still go about their activities peacefully (even as that is thorning society apart), devout members of the ‘Natang Yoh’ Grand mystical Order, dare not swear by Natang Yoh in vain. That explains why in that Muteff village (in Fundong Subdivision, Boyo Division of the North West Region of Cameroon), seat of the mystical Order; people prefer swearing by God to daring Natang Yoh. Here, if one swears in vain by Natang Yoh, (Ma nghvu natang), not even repentance and ‘I am sorry’ can enable you to get a refund of your one-way ticket to the world beyond.
Although the evidence of the matter is hard to ignore, the purpose of this write-up is not to point to where the truth of the matter is. That’s the exclusive domain of the two men of God as they have been trained and immersed in the word of God to speak truth. In doing that, they must be reminded of late Cardinal Tumi’s inuagural discourse at the inception of the Catholic University here in Bamenda, that: ‘Truth is not a concept or a thing. Truth is a person’. He might have come to that conclusion based on Jesus’ statement that He was ‘the light, the way and the truth’.
The main purpose of my inkling is to ask the hard questions on purpose: Why the very men of God who, since the outbreak of the current deadly and escalating Anglophone conflict, have been faulting Government for not bending-over- backwards, and in humility, to resolve the Anglophone conflict, find difficulty resolving a minute, in-house, over-a-prayer misunderstanding
How comes those who have, over the years, admonished us to favour peace and reconciliation, meekness and ‘sarcedoseness’ by storing-up all our treasures in Heaven, are today storing theirs on earth? This, to the extent that the quarrel over RBC has been reduced to property and money, call it 27%?
How comes the ‘body of Christ’ that has over the years castigated our corrupt political leadership and its judicial system, is fast in rushing cap-in-hand, to the same source to help it decipher which of the two truths is a lie? And what does the Bible they preach ‘in and out of season’, say about going to court? Although motive does not equal guilt, yet, in the ongoing RBC/CBC saga, it does help make the theory of Church leaders fixing their eyes on earthly things plausible.
Beyond who is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ in the ongoing saga, and also the near-possibility that both may be right and NETS instead the intriguing factor; God might have allowed it to happen for a purpose. And the purpose?: James 1:22. The challenge of practising what one preaches.
At a minimum, the saga is deeply disturbing for anyone who still believes that religious organizations exist purely to set humanity’s moral compass. If only a small percentage of the two versions of the story is true, then the Church and the world have much to fear, for God appears too far from home.
The revelation that the said Rev. Sam Jato of RBC established both the land title and ‘Deed of Conveyance’ over the Church and parsonage in his personal name rather than that of the CBC, reflects the situation in Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’, where Satan claims to be exposing ‘the hypocrisy of God’. Jato might have judged that it was hypocritical to claim that CBC property was for the commonwealth, when indeed, few individuals were enriching themselves from it at the expense of the collective. Rather than remaining under the CBC thereby ‘serving in Heaven’, he decided to ‘reign in hell’, even though Satan might be unwelcoming to him for fear he may take over.
Rev. Dr. Nditemeh Charlemange has been quick to refer to Sam Jato as a ‘rebellious’ Pastor, almost casting him to hell, as God does in Paradise Lost. Although God assigns a new role to Satan,the fallen angel-that of tormenting those who disobey him and end up in hell- Rev. Dr. Nditemeh Charlemange ends his letter to christian faithfuls on this matter by wishing Rev. Sam Jato, like the Prodigal Son, changes his mind and return to the CBC fold. Intriguingly, the Executive President is categorical that Sam Jato’s return cannot be on his own terms, but on those of the CBC. There again, we go back to the Bible. Did the Prodigal Son return on his father’s terms?
While @TheColbertFactor, we pray the two men of God see good reason to scale back the egoes of who is right or wrong and reconcile for the Glory of God, and not of man; we remind them of Albeit Einstein’s advice to the effect that: ‘The significant problems we face today cannot be solved at the level that we were at when we created them’.
Until then, we can only borrow a leaf from David Yallop’s book, Deliver Us from evil.
*Colbert Gwain is digital rights activist, author, radio host, Commitment Maker at UN Generation Equality Coalition, and content creator @TheColbertFactor
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Pic 1-Rev. Sam Jato of RBC
Pic 2-Rev. Dr. Nditemeh Charlemange of CBC
Pic 3-Ntumfoyn Dr Victor Waingeh delivering the Fon of Kom’s message at the AFOaKOM Komvention in Minnesota.