Julius Esunge was a newly married, international student when he saw Dr. Charles Stanley on television for the first time. New to the United States and longing to find a Bible teacher who could feed his soul, Esunge felt connected to Dr. Stanley from the start. Soon he was filling his free time with the lessons, building upon the spiritual foundation laid in his life at an early age, and sharing the insights he was gaining with everyone he could.
Now a father of three and mathematics professor in Virginia, he returns regularly to his home country of Cameroon where he distributes In Touch Messengers through his preaching ministry, Hope Outreach International. Today the Messenger (in its many forms) has been placed into the hands of hundreds of residents in Esunge’s hometown of Buea. We checked in with a few of the people who have been deeply affected by these resources.
Buea: Lives are Being Changed
Buea is the capital of the Southwest Region of Cameroon. An English-speaking town on the eastern slope of Mount Cameroon, it is home to roughly 150,000 residents. Christianity is the national religion, and in Buea, one cannot help but notice the advertisements for revival services, and the many churches and faith-based colleges. Still, prosperity-gospel teaching and nominal Christian faith overwhelms the area. It is in this religious climate, that the true gospel of Jesus Christ is finding a home among people hungry for deep, spiritual truth.
Jervis: Drawn to the Truth
Like many young people in the area, Jervis arrived to attend the University of Buea. Now he’s selling beauty supplies, a small start to what he hopes will become a thriving business. He was raised on the Scriptures but finds difficulty relating to the “overemphasis on emotions” that he’s experienced in some of the local congregations. That’s why he likes his In Touch Key (a USB-drive filled with Messenger content), because it matches what he sees in the Bible—“not prosperity, but the kingdom of heaven. And then prosperity will come.”
Martin: At Last, A Resource to Share
There is vibrant worship amidst a thriving community of gospel-focused believers at Macedonia Baptist Church. As Julius Esunge’s home church, it is an essential outpost in the town’s Messenger distribution, and Keys and Micros (SD cards) are handed out to newcomers at the church’s numerous weekly services. Pastor Martin is a seminary professor with a rich theological background. “I’m skeptical about materials,” he says. He has witnessed the ways in which the gospel is often taken out of context in favor of prosperity theology. “But when I got (the monthly devotional), and I studied it, I loved it and thought, “For once I have something to freely give to somebody and say, ‘Use it and be blessed!’ Because it is the truth.”
Stanley: Forgiveness, Not Condemnation
The Hope Center has become the hub for most of Hope Outreach’s daily activity. A medical clinic operated by the ministry, the center serves local residents with low incomes. Patients receive affordable care and bills tailored to their ability to pay. The center treats dozens of typhoid and malaria cases every week and has been offering maternity services since the beginning of the year. Stanley, a laboratory technician at the center, says God used the Messenger to help him understand the distinction between conviction and condemnation. “The Holy Spirit in the life of a believer brings conviction,” he says. “God wants to make us like His son, Jesus. The problem with condemnation is the devil.” In his work, Stanley is often in conversation with patients whose medical tests reveal unwanted consequences that have come as a result of their choices. But since Stanley has listened to the Messenger, he’s adopted a different attitude toward the patients he sees. Instead of coming with a spirit of judgment, he now sees the love of God toward sinners—people just like him—and he’s able to speak the language of forgiveness rather than condemnation.
Jude: Reading the Bible Is Easier Now
Jude has a heart for the young people of Buea and volunteers his time as lead teacher for student ministries at his church. He takes his Messenger everywhere he goes, listening when he takes a taxi or is walking to meet someone. “All of the New Testament is there, and the words are very clear,” he says. Like others we spoke with, Jude says that reading the Bible can be a struggle because the language style in the text can be unfamiliar. Listening is often preferred. For Jude the Messenger “has a lot of impact that I’m able to get.” Now he better understands the nature of faith—and how to live and walk by it.
Amos: Teaching From the Devotional
Amos is the long-time chairman of Macedonia Baptist Church, a man with shepherding authority over many lives. He reads the In Touch devotional each month and then shares his copy with members of the congregation after marking pages and writing comments in the margins. He’s hoping to spark a discussion for a later time. He says that the entries go into great depth. “They explain portions of the Bible that I would not be able to understand on my own.” In fact, he’s been using In Touch resources as a bit of a manual for the men’s ministry, teaching from the lessons he reads. “It is my heart’s desire to teach,” he says.
Julius: My Courage Is From the Lord
Christ is working through In Touch resources in Buea, and increasingly, to every corner of Cameroon. The believers who live there no longer live or think as they once did. Each one is growing in grace. They speak of the devotional and the Messenger with gratitude. There is always someone who needs the resources more than they do, and so they are happy to freely give what they have freely received to help others know the love of Christ. Members of this growing community are thankful for the In Touch partners who pray and provide these life-changing resources to so many. Julius Esunge, reflecting on the fruit that has been produced by God, admits, “The courage to proceed with something like this has to come from the Lord. For me, the one guiding principle in ministry has always been attempt something so great for the Lord that it is doomed to fail unless God is in it.”