This is one of those books that I did not think I was ever going to write. On the other hand, I wish I had this book when I gave my life to Christ. It has been difficult for me to know where to start because the issue I am trying to address in this book is somehow complicated. After all, we have made it tricky.
Then the thought just hit me: start with my own story, pull the curtain up on my own life, take you behind the scenes, and share with you an overview of my own journey. My prayer and hope are that my story will help you navigate to what God is calling you to do.
I was raised in a believing home and cannot remember any time I was not taken to church. My earliest memories are centered around celebrating Christmas. At that age, all I knew was the excitement, singing, and fun that accompanied the gathering of the brethren. I was not baptized and had not had the plan of salvation explained to me.
My parents had become born again through the Full Gospel Mission, an evangelical Pentecostal church. My parents became members in the late 1970s when the church was less than twenty years old and have remained members since then.
Before my father became born again, he was a teacher with the Presbyterian Church of Cameroon, teaching in their mission schools. The mission hit some hard times, and my father and many other teachers were laid off. During this time, my father gave his life to Christ and accepted Him as his Lord and savior. When the mission decided to hire him back, an employment condition was that he would have to attend the Presbyterian church.
Also, my father had to leave the area that we were born in for us to move to a different part of the country for the new job. While in the new location, my father became slowly uncomfortable with the requirement to attend church service at the Presbyterian church. He had to make a drastic move that would eventually take us out of the Presbyterian church to the Apostolic church, another Pentecostal denomination located in that area.
My father turned in his resignation letter after about four years, and we changed denominations. This was a significant decision that my father had to make because it cost him his job and many other material things. Suddenly, my dad moved from being a teacher to a farmer and had to do whatever was needed to feed his young family.
My father played an essential role in my spiritual formation, not just by what he said, but through what he did. I was fortunate to have been taught by him when I was in first, third, fifth, and sixth grades. This exposure allowed me to know him as a teacher, father, and “priest.” His integrity is impeccable, and his ability to combine his faith and his work was unmatched. He was consistent while at home and in school and did not miss the opportunities to instill the fear of God in his students.
After one year of fellowshipping in the Apostolic church, I noticed many differences between their church service and structure and the way the Presbyterian church operated.
For example, the Apostolic church did not have Sunday school for children; this meant that adults and children worshipped together. During their services, their pastors and elders sat in front of the church, separated from the rest of the congregation by a wooden barricade. All one could see was their upper trunks when they were seated because the wooden barrier blocked their lower extremities.
This was in sharp contrast to the Presbyterian church, where no such barricade existed. Presbyterians were also famous for auctioning items after the offering was collected. It was not uncommon for a few bananas brought in by someone during the service to sell for more than ten times the normal price.
The other difference was in the emphasis and manifestation of gifts of the Holy Spirit. In the Presbyterian church, there was zero mention of the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues. That is why I was a little taken aback when we started fellowshipping in the Apostolic church, and I would see people speaking in tongues during the service.
My father got a new teaching job after one year, and we had to move to a different station. That is how we found ourselves back in the Full Gospel Mission, and my initial quest for God started.
I was about ten years at this time, but I had never been presented the gospel officially or had anybody explain the plan of salvation to me. While we were at this new station and attending the Full Gospel Mission, the preaching was more focused and convicting. I gradually became aware of sin and my need for God, and a hunger for God began to grow in my heart. During that time, a crusade was held, and when a call was made for people to come out and surrender their lives to Christ, I went, but it seemed more care was given to the adults than the kids. Nobody followed up with me. I remember declaring a fast for myself and going to church alone to pray, not too long after that crusade. Something was happening in me because nobody told me to proclaim a fast.
After six months on the job, my father's application to work with the government was granted, and we had to move again to a new area where my father started teaching in a public school. About two years in the new situation, when I was less than two months shy of my twelfth birthday, I went to another evangelistic crusade organized by the Mundani Believers Association (MUBA).
The evangelist who preached the gospel made it come alive to me in a way that up till now, it had not been. I became very aware of my sinfulness and separation from God and my need for a savior. The other thing that stood out to me was the consequence of my sins, especially the possibility of being separated from God forever if I died in my sins. You may wonder what sins a child of my age would have committed. When the Bible says all have sinned (Romans 3:23), it includes all, and I could not afford to stay separated from God now and forever.
When the opportunity was given for people who wanted to surrender their lives to Jesus Christ to come out, I rushed forward. Thank God that this time one of the pastors spoke with me and helped me accept Christ in my life. I cannot describe the joy of knowing that I am now forgiven, a child of God, and will be spending eternity with my Heavenly Father.
This point marks the official beginning of my walk with God. And things have never been the same since then. In short, my life was forever marked by this particular decision, and I will forever be grateful for MUBA for organizing this evangelistic outreach.
There was a little obstacle that I had to overcome because the Full Gospel Mission did not believe in infant baptism. Even at the age of eleven, I was still considered by some to be an infant, and they doubted if I had full comprehension of what it meant to follow Jesus Christ. Some felt the decision was too complicated for a child to make. But God was on the move because the next day, during a service organized precisely for people to be filled with the Holy Spirit, I received the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the physical evidence of speaking in tongues. Now that I was baptized by the Holy Spirit, I could not be prevented from being baptized by water. Some of the leaders decided that if the Holy Spirit could come upon me, there was no good reason for not baptizing me.
Less than a year into this new birth experience, my parents sent me to a Roman Catholic co-educational boarding school. There I was exposed to the Roman Catholic way of worship, and to say I had a church culture shock would be an understatement.
The worship was utterly different from what I was used to. First, it was called a Mass and not a church service as I was used to. The Mass was said every day accompanied by communion, which consisted of a wafer they called bread and considered to be the actual body of Christ. The other things that stood out to me were the statues in the chapel, the idea of purgatory, and the titles of “priest” and “father.”
I was to spend five years in this environment immersed deeply in studying religion through the Roman Catholic lens. The only reason I did not leave a Roman Catholic was that I had given my life to Christ and accepted Him as my Lord and Savior before going to secondary school. This meant that I attended Mass but was more of an observer because some of the practices were opposite of what I was reading in the Bible at the time and what I had been taught.
I could not bring myself to accept some of the practices but had no choice but to write their answers in my religious knowledge exams. I was always among the top one percent in my class when it came to spiritual knowledge, and my classmates were mesmerized by how much I knew about the Bible. They had every reason to be because the Roman Catholics did not place a lot of emphasis on personal Bible reading and study.
There were too many rituals associated with the Roman Catholic church that were new and strange to me at that time. For example, the burning of candles, incense, and the sprinkling of holy water, and so forth. Also, the priest and the bishop had special garments that they wore. The more I understood and observed what was going on, the more it seemed that they were mimicking the Old Testament worship.
Another thing that was of sharp contrast to my Full Gospel upbringing was the idea of going to the priest for confession of sins. What? This was unheard of, and I still did not get it.
One good thing the school did was to permit Protestant students to fellowship with the Presbyterian church on Sundays. This meant that throughout my five years at the school, I attended Mass and the Presbyterian church. I only fellowshipped in the Full Gospel church when I went home on holidays.
The Presbyterian and Roman Catholics had clergy who had distinctive clerical wear, and these clergymen strictly focused on “shepherding” the flock of God for their work. The first three Full Gospel pastors that pastored the church I attended while on holiday were different. First, they did not have any clerical robes and had no particular sitting position in the church. All of them had an economic activity that they were engaged in.
The first pastor was a carpenter and made furniture as well. The second was a blacksmith who did metal works. The third was a tailor. In addition to preaching, they each served the community with their trades, and it gave them ample opportunities to interact with the people and meet other needs apart from their spiritual needs.
Because these pastors were also involved in the economic life of the community and no special effort was made to distinguish them from the rest of the church, the ministry was not overly centralized in the hands of one person. Preaching and sharing the gospel were not things that the pastor monopolized. This is how I was able to start taking up some leading roles in the services in my early teens.
The big clergy-laity divide that characterized other denominations was clearly lacking in the Full Gospel Mission at this time in their history. The ministry was less structured, restricted, or segregated. This may explain why the church kept multiplying because many people actively shared their faith with others, as was expected.
When you have a vibrant and active faith that you regularly share with other people, you have to walk the talk because if you do not, you will be called out for your hypocrisy. How can you who hates, steals, and cheats others go to them to proclaim the good news? This is impossible, so when the saints are equipped for the work of the ministry, the spreading of the gospel is unhindered because everybody is involved in making disciples.
After I graduated from the Roman Catholic school, I went to a public school for the last two years of high school. There I did not have any restrictions on where to fellowship and how to conduct myself. I seized upon this new freedom and became totally immersed in seeking the Lord and in the life of the Full Gospel church in the city where my high school was located. Sharing my faith with my school mates became a daily practice and earned me the nickname of Pastor, which some still call me today.
The “official” pastor of the church was abroad for further studies, and the church was successfully led by leaders who themselves were working professionals. They ran the church successfully because the emphasis was on equipping and nurturing the brethren to love one another and reach out to others. This was one of the high points of my faith experience because the fellowship was real and not faked.
During this time in high school, I had my first opportunities to preach sermons. There were other churches connected to the main church that I attended, but they had no permanent pastors. So leaders from the main church had to go there and preach. I was not officially a leader, but I was zealous for the things of God to the point where the leaders felt I could be useful in preaching to others. Initially, it was frightening, but I overcame my fright and fed the sheep. By the time I graduated from high school, I had preached a couple of times and was becoming more and more comfortable.
After high school, because of financial hardship, I could not go to college. Therefore, I had to stay at home for one academic year, hoping that things would improve for me to continue school. During this time, I was appointed the district youth leader for the Mundani youth district in the Full Gospel Mission. This gave me ample opportunities to teach and preach to the youth in different churches.
I was on fire for God, and my parents were proud of my dedication and commitment to the faith. The thought of going to Bible school and becoming a full-time pastor started taking hold of me, but I was not sure if this was the right direction to take or not. At this time, we understood that to serve God to your full potential meant going to Bible college and becoming a pastor. Although the Full Gospel functioned in an organic fashion, the priesthood of every believer was partially practiced out of necessity. Maybe this was because the church was young, and they had not trained enough professional clergy to take care of the rapidly advancing church.
While I was contemplating going to Bible college to become a pastor, my mother had a different agenda. She was praying that her first son, not me, should go to Bible school. She was praying and believing God because my elder brother, who was about two years older than me, was not walking in the faith at the time. He was a prodigal son and doing his own thing. There were zero indicators that he was Bible school material because he had to, first of all, repent and accept Christ as his Lord and Savior before thinking of going to Bible school. Spiritually, he was in the far country, and it was troubling to the entire family. All we could do was love him and pray for him.
My elder brother had finished high school two years before me, and now he was off in the city trying to get into different universities and writing the entrance exams into other professional schools. Even though they were the ones paying for all these trips and entrance examination fees, my parents would pray that if my brother did not repent and surrender his life to Christ, no door would open for him. God answered their prayers—and our prayer because we all prayed for the same thing. My brother came back from the city and had an encounter with the Lord, and his life turned around.
While I was still contemplating if going to Bible school was my next logical step, my elder brother felt that God was calling him to go to Bible school. Initially, we thought he was joking because none of us saw this coming. Even though my mother had clearly heard from the Lord that He needed the first son to be offered to Him, my mother laughed like Sarah because the first son was not available. But my parents could not say no to my brother’s request.
Since my brother was going to Bible school, I saw that as a sign from the Lord that it was not yet time for me to go. I stayed at home for one year and continued to serve as the district youth coordinator and helped preach once in a while in the church that my father had planted.
It is incredible that my father, a headmaster at this point, also planted a church in his new station because there was no Full Gospel church there. He was technically the pastor but did not earn any salary. That was one of the discrepancies that I began to notice as I grew older, and it made me start questioning some of the practices of the church.
Going to University
After one year at home, I applied to go to the University of Buea to complete a bachelor’s degree in geology. It was a step of faith because our family’s financial difficulties had not been resolved.
When I arrived in Buea, I found out immediately that the cost of living was extremely high and would make it difficult for me to stay there. The money I had on me was just enough to pay the heavily subsidized tuition, and I would have been left with nothing to cover my rent, food, and books. By divine providence, one other student offered to share their room with me for free. But after the first semester, I had to move a few miles away to where housing was cheaper.
It was in this town called Mile 16, Bolifamba that I got plugged into a local church and became a significant player in the life of the church. I became a member of the Full Gospel church there, and it did not take long for the leadership to notice my love and zeal for the Lord. Opportunities to participate in leading worship and other functions in the church started opening up. Apart from participating fully in the life of the church, I was also actively sharing the gospel with my friends.
This was promoted by the firm belief that anybody who dies without Jesus Christ will be separated from God forever. The other reason was the misery of being enslaved by sin, although these friends believed they were having fun by living in sin.
Equipping for the Work of the Ministry
When I arrived at the Full Gospel church in Mile 16, Bolifamba, there was no permanent pastor there. But after about a year, a pastor was assigned to the church. Pastor Bisong David had just returned from Nigeria, where he had received a bachelor’s degree in theology, and he was ready to equip the leaders of the church to the best of his ability. We started having training in exegesis, homiletics, and other ministry aspects. He was using materials from his theological training to train us.
During my third year at the University of Buea, the church in Mile 16, Bolifamba organized an evangelistic outreach at Bomaka, a town close to Bolifamba. After the outreach, we planted a church, and the church was handed over to me to take care of. This meant that I had to follow up on the young converts, hold a mid-week Bible study on Wednesday, and conduct a church service every Sunday.
I was made to understand that I was doing the work of God, and He would reward me someday. This explains why, even though I was a student and had many financial needs, the church I was leading did not give me any financial support, although we collected offerings and tithes weekly. My greatest joy was the privilege of doing the work of my Heavenly Father, and I did not ask or expect any reward from anybody. Although if some monetary compensation had been given to me, that would have been highly welcome.
God Can Use You in Different Ways
I had not given up the idea of going to Bible school and getting into full-time ministry. This was the only way I knew how to serve God at my full potential. I had never considered that God could use me in other ways to advance His kingdom. The understanding that ministry was more than standing up on Sunday and preaching in church or teaching during the mid-week Bible study had not crossed my mind.
Then I met Brother Lazare, whom God used to open up my understanding of other possibilities and what else God could do in my life. Brother Lazare was in the ministry and had been invited to preach at the Full Gospel Church in Mile 16, Bolifamba. He somehow made some prophetic utterances at the end of his teaching that resonated with me. He talked about people in the church who God was going to use mightily and who would have a profound impact globally and change the course of history. This message felt like it was for me personally, and I decided that I would visit him and talk more about the subject.
He was living in Douala, which was more than thirty miles away and in a different province. After some time, I was able to get the money for transportation to go and see him. When I arrived at his house and started talking about the prophecy, he could not recollect saying anything extraordinary during his message. But I had written it down and was able to show him what I had received while he was teaching. My questions were centered around going to Bible college because that was all I knew at that moment.
Then he started saying things that had never crossed my mind and opened me up to other possibilities. He brought up fathers of the faith, like Joseph and Daniel, who had been used by God in extraordinary ways although they were not full-time ministers. He went ahead to explain to me that I did not necessarily have to go to Bible college or become a full-time minister for God to use me to advance His kingdom. My conversation with Brother Lazare opened up new possibilities for me, but it was ultimately difficult for me to connect the dots.
I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in geology from the University of Buea and moved to Yaoundé, Cameroon’s capital, to complete a master's in earth sciences. The pull to do ministry was growing stronger with each passing day, so I decided to start something in my living room and lead one person to Christ and started meeting with them regularly. This was going to be short-lived because God was about to send me to the United States of America for graduate school.
I had never thought of going to America because it was too far and too expensive. Still, in 2001 while I was sitting at a conference, I heard the Holy Spirit speak to me that I should go to the United States. I went home and told my wife that we had to pray our way to the United States because we could not do it on our own. The details of what happened are written in my book Coming to America: A Journey of Faith.
I grabbed a single suitcase with no promise of a scholarship or knowing how things were going to work out. But all I was counting on was the fact that God had asked me to move, and He was going to take care of me. It was so shocking when I arrived in the United States and, during the first semester, I told some of my well-to-do roommates that God was my sponsor. It did not make any sense to them, but with time, they came to appreciate God’s miraculous intervention in my life.
The Man who Helped Me Connect the Dots
During my second semester in the United States, I moved out of the Assemblies of God Church to Hillcrest Church, a nondenominational evangelical church located in the Dallas area. There I met Earl Little, and by divine providence, he took me to Dave Dawson, the founder of Equipping of the Saints. I did not know this meeting was going to change my life forever. Before this meeting with Dave Dawson, I was clueless about how to disciple other people one-on-one. The whole concept of taking responsibility for the spiritual growth of any spiritual babies that the Lord birthed through your ministration was foreign to me.
My first meeting with Dave Dawson was not only eye-opening but made me feel that God did not make me come to the United States purely for a Ph.D. in geosciences but to be “discipled” by him. I was not only excited by it—it seemed as if scales had fallen from my eyes, and all the internal struggles I had and questions concerning how to integrate my faith in God and my professional life vanished because all the dots were connected. I could now see clearly where everything fit.
I learned a lot from Dave Dawson as I studied with him and continue to because he has figured out how the Christian life is to be lived. The good thing is that he has written extensively, and his materials are available for other people to use: (https://www.equippingthesaints.org/index.html). Some of what I write in this book is a direct result of my interaction with Dave Dawson and his input in my life.
Equipping of the Saints International Ministries is Born
I was still in graduate school, working hard to complete my doctorate, and I was implementing some of the new things that I was learning from Dave Dawson. By this time, I was still fellowshipping in Hillcrest Church and had become one of the prayer rail ministers. This position meant that we had to go before the church after the pastor finished preaching and pray for people who had any prayer requests. Although being a prayer rail minister brought some visibility and a sense of being “plugged in,” I was still uncomfortable because my heartbeat was to be involved in making disciples as Jesus commanded.
In 2014, we started a fellowship in our apartment at the University of Texas at Dallas. It was focused on discipleship and equipping the saints for the work of the ministry. We had not been called to build a church but to empower people to then reach out to others. We had students from all ethnic backgrounds, and the Lord continued to attract students from all backgrounds as we met together, shared communion, and studied the Word of God. These students are now spread across the country. In 2016, we completed the paperwork for Equipping of the Saints International Ministries (ESIM).
Derailed by Hillcrest Church African Ministry
We were still attending Hillcrest Church and getting more and more involved in the life of the church. A part of me was still longing to be part of a big organization and to do church the way I was used to doing it. This is why when an opportunity presented itself for me to be the pastor of the Hillcrest African Ministry while I was still a student, I jumped on it.
This meant that we held an African service during the regular Sunday time and after that went into the main sanctuary and held church with the rest of the people. In fact, we had two services each Sunday. During the African service, I preached, and we collected offering and tithes and all that was done in a typical evangelical church. But our worship reflected our African heritage, although we had people from many different African countries who also had many differences. There are many different ethnic groups in Africa, and they are very different from each other.
My new position as the pastor of the African church meant that I was brought on to the pastoral staff of Hillcrest Church and began attending the weekly pastor meeting. I got an office, and I set time aside to go there once a week to meet with any members who needed any help. The responsibilities of running the African ministry were not limited to preaching on Sunday mornings; they included visitations and taking care of various needs of the people.
In addition to doing all this, I was a husband, father of a young and growing family, and a full-time graduate student, plus I had the responsibilities of ESIM. You can see how the opportunity to serve as the pastor of the Hillcrest African Ministry distracted me from the discipleship that I was supposed to be doing through ESIM. Something had to give, and ESIM took a beating. We are drawn to what is glamorous and famous. Leading the Hillcrest African Ministry was more glamorous, and I fell for it. But in hindsight, I should not have gone down that path.
I had been conditioned up to this point that you do the work of the Lord, and God will reward you in heaven, or something like that. This explains why I led the Hillcrest African Ministry and did not receive a dime and never asked. But if what I was doing, just like my father and millions of other children of God all over the world are doing, was good enough, I would have been paid. We are going to get into the details of this issue later.
Our desire is to go back to the basics and ensure that people do not just show up, pay up, and shut off! We established a house church in our own house and have been meeting every Friday for a couple of years now.
At the moment, we have not yet planted any other house churches apart from the one that meets in our house, but we are hoping that with time many more house churches will be established in our city. We are not planning to start the church in the house, then move it to a hotel, and then buy land and build a church building. The hope is that the church should be providing solutions in a holistic fashion because after people give their lives to Christ, they need a place to live, a job, and many other things.
Priest at Work
I was hired to work for an oil and gas company as a geologist. This was an opportunity for me to see how I could work as a geologist and a priest of God at the same time. I started praying that God would use me to be a blessing to the company and the people I was working with. The desire to disciple other people was strong, but I did not know where or how to start. So I did what I had learned how to do—that was to pray. For almost two years, I kept praying for opportunities to witness and share my faith and for somebody to disciple.
As I was praying, I was building bridges by connecting with people and showing interest and genuine concern. People were slowly warming up to me, but I had not yet had the opportunity to share the gospel with anybody or had anyone interested in being discipled.
Then one day, I had an idea to help one of our landmen learn more about geology. I was in his office one day when the Holy Spirit dropped a thought in my heart to ask him if it would be okay to explain some of the basic geologic concepts to him once a week. He was excited because he had been thinking about how to increase his geology knowledge.
We were having a great time meeting and getting to know each other more. Then what I had been expecting happened: he asked to be discipled. Along the line, I found out that he was a believer but wanted to know more and to grow. Apparently, he had sensed something in me and wanted more of it. Bingo! I was ready to hold his hand and walk the walk with him.
I did not say that I was going to take him to my pastor, bishop, or elder to help him. The simple reason is that he had seen something in me, not in any other person, and he wanted what he had seen. To try and take him to a third party would have been a wrong move. So it was up to me to help him grow.
I had been discipled, and we had materials that would be used to disciple others. All we needed to do was to select an hour a week during lunch to meet, pray, go over a lesson, and do Scripture memory. We needed just one hour a week to invest in our eternal destiny, and it worked out beautifully as a couple of other colleagues joined us.
Therefore, the message in this book is not theoretical but one that works. You are being given an opportunity to learn how to be a priest of God without leaving your job or whatever you are doing. Everybody is called to reach out to those in their immediate sphere of influence, and this includes those you work with and interact with daily.
Dean of the School of Ecological Mission at Missional University
Two years ago, I was in between jobs because of a slump in oil and gas prices. I desired to deploy my gifts in a way that would be of maximum benefit in the kingdom. You are reading this book because I decided to accept the call to write and speak.
It occurred to me that teaching online would be complementary to writing because online teaching requires a lot of writing. Therefore, I started applying for online teaching positions. Then one day, my wife forwarded an email to me with a job opening from Missional University, which values equipping graduates to be mission-driven. This implies that the graduates from any of the degree programs are trained to understand that their vocation is to be missional-minded, as they are working as nurses or in whatever profession they may be called to. Their profession becomes a vehicle through which the redemptive mission of God is extended to those they have been brought in contact with because of that profession.
I applied for the position and was accepted. I am now the dean of the School of Ecological Mission, which believes that God is not only interested in redeeming mankind but the entire cosmos.
Now that you have been exposed to my story and have an idea of where I have been and all that has transpired in my life, I am making an appeal to you to read this book without expectations and with an open mind. There is nothing more important than accepting your role as a priest of God and actually functioning as one. I hope that by the time you finish reading this book, this message will be clear enough for you to step into it and live it out.
I am inviting you to dive into the book with me and see what God Himself says about who you truly are, His priest!