Expansion Of The Work To The East, South And North Of Cameroon
Behold I have placed before you an open door that no-one cane shut. I know that you have little strength, yet You have kept my word and have not denied my name. Rev 3, 8
These wonderful promises of our Lord Jesus were given to us on that day in 1974 when we were sent out as missionaries to Africa by the ECCLESIA and the United Mission Friends from Germany. It was for both Ursula, my beloved spouse, (who is now 31 years with the Lord in glory) and me a great encouragement, especially because they were given independently through three different servants of God, who had the same assurance that they had received it as a word from the Lord for us.
The Lord Keeps His Promises
We experienced God’s faithfulness in fulfilling His promises during the early years, when we worked mainly in the Anglophone provinces of Cameroon, and in neighbouring Nigeria; and later in the Western Province of Cameroon.
In towns like Bamenda, Mbengwi, Bali, Mamfe, Wum, Kumba, Ndop, Banso, Bafoussam, Dchang, Nkongsamba and many surrounding villages new churches sprouted. After the death of Ursula, God gave me not only a lovely new wife, but also a caring Mama for my 3 children. With Esther we became a complete family again and continued to travel, arriving again in Cameroon in 1985. We were accompanied by a young dynamic family, Bernd and Angela Scheven, with their first child Daniel. Together with Esther we continued to do our evangelistic work from our old base in Bamenda, in close cooperation with Brother W. Knorr the Pioneer Missionary, and Brother David Njemo the Superintendent of the Full Gospel Mission. We also worked with all the other servants of God, irrespective of race.
God’s Call to East Cameroon
After 12 years of evangelism and church planting in the western parts of the country, we felt a strong call in our hearts to go to the vast Francophone East Cameroon. Here we saw the mighty hand of God like never before. What started with one small house fellowship in 1986 in Yaounde has grown to the extent that today there is no major town in all of the Francophone regions without a Full Gospel Church; from Kribi in the South to Kousseri in the Extreme North; from Dschang in the West to Kenzou or Molundou in the East.
To start the work in Yaounde, we travelled every Friday from Bamenda to the capital for a period of 6 months. Just like we had done before in other towns, we began with a small house fellowship in the living room of a rented house. With only two bedrooms it was very small for our family with three, and later four children besides frequent guests. But the strategic location was favourable for starting a church. God was with us and our numbers increased every week until we found ourselves in desperate need of a bigger room. God answered our prayer and the kind proprietor of College Meyong Meyeme permitted us to hold church services on Sunday mornings in one of the classrooms, free of charge.
A stranger sent to show us land for the church in Yaounde.
Right from the beginning we had seen the need for a church building. The biggest obstacle was finding the land to build on. Affluent believers from other churches, and who occupied top social positions, told us that they had tried for several years to buy land yet without success. Although we did not know anyone who could negotiate for us, we had a God who knew our needs. My dear Esther prayed boldly that God would grant us a central place on a hill with a view overlooking the green vegetation, and a fresh breeze. I simply joined her in this prayer. Two weeks later a young man came to us from nowhere, offering to show us an available piece of land, very central in the town, between Avenue de Tsinga and Nouvelle Route de Bastos. He brought us to the owner, a former minister in the National Government
God miraculously provides the finances for the purchase of the land and the construction of the Gospel Centre in Yaounde.
The ex-minister told us that he was willing to sell the land, but on the condition that we paid the first instalment of three million Francs before the end of the week. Since our bank-account didn´t carry even 200.000 CFA, I was about to say “No” to his offer. However before I could speak up he was called to the phone, and this gave me the opportunity to talk to God and for God to talk to me. I heard Him tell me very clearly: “Is it your house, or mine which is to be built? Is all the gold and silver not mine?” Then I knew what I had to do and I signed the contract to buy the land promising to pay the first instalment of three million on Friday ( 4 days later), and the second instalment of 11 million before the year’s end (two months later). We did not speak about it to anybody, except to God, on our knees. On Friday the needed money was in our BICIC account but we never found out from where it came. Then before the two months elapsed Rev. Doane Collins came to us with a letter from Oklahoma, USA including 11 million CFA for us to pay for the land in cash. It turned out that on the same day that God spoke to me about all silver and gold being His, 10,000 km away God also spoke by a prophecy to an Assemblies of God congregation in Oklahoma to help in the building of His house in Cameroon. This was really miraculous because nobody there had any idea about our project. No, they did not even know where Cameroon was found on the globe. But God knows not only all people, but even our specific needs. This experience gave us courage for any other new project that would come. Within a year the Gospel Centre, Tsinga was built, mainly by donations from Christians in Germany, and without any form of fundraising from our end. Meanwhile in Yaounde hundreds of people at every level in the society got to know the love and power of God, especially through several evangelistic Campaigns held at Carrefour Warda.
Signs and wonders confirming the preached Gospel,
Open the way to the Eastern Province
Since at the time in the Gospel Centre in Tsinga there was already a solid team of praying and fasting believers, we could turn to the vast, unreached regions of the East.
Equipped with a big tent (30m x 15m) and a Mercedes lorry, we visited one city after the other. In Nanga Eboko Pastor Toto agreed to come with us to Bertoua. Every night people filled the tent, especially since some testified that they had been healed from various diseases during the meetings. Many received Christ as their Saviour and Lord. After a week we had a church of about 70 people, born again by the work of the Holy Spirit. Those who made a clear decision for Christ received additional teachings by Pastor Toto every afternoon.
From Bertoua we went to Batouri, Yokadouma, and Moloundou. In that region, in Makoka, we had our first contact with the Bakas, as the Pygmies call themselves. After one single meeting during which God touched some of them miraculously, many threw away their amulets. The very next day without any prompting, they started to build their own chapel.
They simply believed in the promises of God and experienced his faithfulness. When I arrived again in their village some months later they danced around me, totally excited, singing and shouting: “Peter, Peter you told us that God would hear our prayers just like He heard yours. You see this boy was paralyzed, we prayed for him and now he can walk just as if he was never lame!”
Demonic resistance cannot hinder the advance of God’s word
However, all along, especially in the East we also experienced diabolic resistance. Demons yelled out of possessed people in an awfully frightening way, saying that they hated us and would kill us for entering into one of their strongholds.
Actually we never once made a journey to Moloundou without encountering life-threatening incidences. We missed being crushed by timber lorries several times, and only escaped by running our VW bus directly into the bushes.
Several times a train wagon derailed on the way to Belabo, and at other times there was no way to continue due to lorries being literally buried in the mud, blocking any passage. At one time the engine of our lorry transporting the tent died out in the middle of the forest.
Even flames cannot stop the love of God
During one of our trips, our VW bus, carrying all our equipment caught fire and burned down just in front of the Pygmy Camp at Makoka. The unexplainable fire started in the back seat and I was unable to put it out with even two fire extinguishers. Worse still, the heat ignited the engine and the burning vehicle began to roll down towards a small Catholic Mission health centre where Reverend Sisters rendered sacrificial service to the needy and sick people in that remote area. To avoid further damage I jumped into the burning vehicle. Inside two gas bottles were exploding into flames like military flamethrowers. I managed to direct the vehicle towards a tree trunk which stopped it, but in the meantime my clothes got totally burned and I also sustained burns, especially on my hands. At 3am that morning, we arrived on foot, empty handed in Moloundou. The next evening however, I preached again in the football stadium, dressed in the clothes of the prison director, who had generously given me everything from underwear to a shirt, trousers and a tie, since all my own clothes were destroyed in the fire.
The amazing thing was that before the trip I was warned in a vision that we would face satanic attacks. Furthermore, the same morning before this fire incident, a young student from Yaounde, Brother Paul the son of a Cameroonian Professor at the Sorbonne in Paris, came to me completely agitated and telling me: “Brother I couldn’t sleep, I had to battle in prayer all night, till I saw you coming out alive from a terrible fire which destroyed everything”.
All such experiences however could not stop God’s work. Especially those terrible, destructive flames that night at Makoka, which are to me until this day an incentive, because they showed me a little bit what hell will be like. But hell’s flames will be worse and that is why Jesus died on the cross to rescue people from them, and anyone who understands that, cannot help but preach the gospel no matter the circumstances. picture burned bus
A Divine Strategy to Win the Country
The Lord gave us a clear vision to start churches in all the major towns in Cameroon, from Moloundou to Kousseri; from Mamfe to Kenzou. And this vision became a reality!
Twice I had to travel with my family across the Sahara Desert. The second time we were accompanied by the Schevens and other young friends from Germany. We had to travel around the Lake Tchad because Nigeria‘s borders were closed and so we entered Cameroon from the North. Here we stopped somewhere below one of these bizarre mountains built up of mighty erratic boulders, and while we were there God spoke clearly to us to evangelize in the North.
The Power of God Breaks Iron Chains
From that time we organised many Campaigns in towns like Garoua, Maroua, Mora, Ngaoundere, Yagoua, and right up to Kousseri and to many other smaller villages. Later, Brother Bernd Scheven reached other places like Kaele, Mokolo, Meigangam, Tibati, Banjo...
There were times when the power of God was so manifest in these campaigns, that we saw sick people, even Muslims or animists traveling 2 to 3 kilometres to attend the meetings.
Lamidos and mayors called us to pray for them because they had heard of the miracles which God was performing in the meetings. picture of sick people
Paralyzed people suddenly stood up and praised the Lord dancing for joy. Others reported tumours that had disappeared. Possessed people who were for years bound with iron chains became totally free and lived a joyful life. During one campaign where God’s power was especially present a Muslim pleaded with us: “Please I beg you, admit my wife into your church because she was possessed by evil spirits and would scream every night, so that I could never sleep in the night, but since she came to your meetings she sleeps like a baby.” We showed him that it was not about our church but about the power of the risen Jesus Christ. Greater however, than any physical healing is the miracle of the Holy Spirit transforming the life of a person to become a child of God. Countless people have experienced this miracle, and today, just as God had promised, we have churches all over Cameroon; in the Great North as in the Centre, South, East and West.
God said: “Build My house
And I will be pleased with it and appear there in my glory!”Haggai 1.8
Since I was originally an architect by profession it was but normal for me to build churches in all these towns. In all we have built about 60 churches from South to North and from West to East, Their structures are as different as the dry North is from the humid rainforest in the South, yet they all share this common characteristic: that all their doors and windows are painted red, while the walls are white. pictures Maroua, Garoua, Nsimeyong,Ebolowa , Kribi
The red openings indicate that nobody can ever come into the presence of God, except by the blood of Jesus and whosoever comes to Him will be cleansed from all his sins and become whiter than snow. In this way the church demonstrates God`s righteousness and holiness to the world.
While praying the Lord spoke to me. He said: “In this valley you shall build a hospital where people will truly experience my love!”
After having announced the love of God across the entire country, and preached His power to forgive all our sins and heal all our diseases, one day while praying before the Gospel Centre in Tsinga, God spoke to me again as clearly as ever a man could have spoken.
His words brought a totally new aspect into our work because He told me to build a hospital where people would experience His love in action. He told me further that we would get the green zone below our church for this purpose. I argued with God in prayer: “Lord” I said, “You know, that I have nothing to do with medical work. You have called me to preach the gospel and You know that I’m ready to pray for sick people according to Your word, but I am not the right person to build a hospital!” Yet the Lord gave me no rest until I agreed to act in obedience to his command.
It is obvious that even when a plan is from God we should not be surprised when we face all sorts of obstacles in its execution.
The proposed area, being swampy, had been officially declared a “zone inedificandi” and
therefore every possibility for a hospital to be built on it was ruled out.
Even the Council of the Full Gospel Mission in Cameroon was convinced that this was
just a nice idea from me, but that it could never materialise.
Yet God‘s Word tells us: “God is not a man, that he should lie, Neither the son of man,
that he should repent: Has he said, and will he not do it ?
Or hath he spoken, and will he not execute it (make it good)?4Mo 23, 19
When God says something he watches over his word to see it fulfilled. So I was very certain, since He had spoken to me, that whatever the obstacles might be, His word would come to fulfilment. It took us some years, but in November 1999 we finally dedicated the first block of the Bethesda Hospital (Bethesda, meaning house of mercy).
This apparent delay in the work in Yaounde could not hinder God’s plans; rather the opposite was true because in the meantime we also built a second clinic in Garoua. Oh that we may learn through these experiences, that when there is heavy opposition to God’s work, the result will always be all the more glorious. Many believers wondered how this project would ever be financed, but without much begging by us, God provided the funds for two centres where poor, sick people could experience the love of God in a very practical way.
A School For the Blind and a Professional Training Centre.
As God’s people, we should always look forward and never backward. We should never fold our hands in satisfaction with the achievements of yesterday.
God’s plans are progressive! So God gave us another vision again, this time to build a Centre for blind people in Maroua. By His grace we were able to build it in the heart of the city.
Besides this project Brother Reinhard Braun, a German businessman, along with his wife, both of who had contributed enormously to a number of these projects, had a vision for a professional training centre. There, especially outcasts and outlaws in the society would get not only a new prospect for their life, but more importantly, experience the love of Jesus which would lead them to become new creatures, and to become a blessing to the country instead of posing a danger to people.
The Key to These Projects
Frequently we are asked: “How did you finance all this?” I can testify that God’s problem is never finances, but rather the need for dedicated men and women, because those who are really dedicated to God will also sacrificially contribute to his work. Therefore he asks us to pray for labourers. We are so grateful for all these wonderful brothers and sisters who we got to know while doing God’s work. Without the support of such people, through their offerings and intercessory prayers, we would never have achieved anything, nor would our ministry have any lasting impact.
Our cry is that God will give us more of such labourers, who do not preach religious philosophy, but preach the Gospel in its power wherever they stand or go, simply because it has become like a burning fire in their hearts. Herein the Full Gospel Bible Schools in Bamenda, Mbal-Mayo and N’dere-Bamyanga play a very vital role.
May God also bring in practical labourers, who will work in the hospitals, schools and other centres because they have been touched by Gods incredible love and consequently want to share it with a poor, sick and hopeless world.
May it be a daily experience, that people come to our churches and health centres and testify that there they met the living God. To Him be all glory.
United with all those who carry this burden through the love of God,
Peter and Esther Schneider with our children: Johannes, David, Manuela, Samuel, Daniel and Christian