'So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers'.

'So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers'.

Mbissi, Fundong Parish, Cameroon

THE GROWTH OF THE CHURCH IN MBISSI VILLAGE

Women played a great role in the mission of Christ. They were among the poor and the humble who opened their hearts to receive the gift of faith which Christ and his apostles shared with them. They became evangelizers as they invited others to meet Christ and to be his disciples. The story of the Samaritan woman highlights the evangelizing role of women in the Church (cf, Jn 4: 5-42). Like the Samaritan woman, a member of the Catholic Women Association in Mbissi Village in Fundong Parish, Cameroon, encountered Christ in his Word, in the Eucharistic celebration and the community of faith in Fundong main mission and felt inspired to share the gift of faith with her husband, children and the rest of her family members in Mbissi village which had no Catholics then.

Prompted by this desire to start the community of faith, she requested her husband to join her and permit the family to pray in their home each Sunday.

This request was accepted and the family started a house church in 1993. This marked the beginning of the growth of faith and initial formation of the Christian community in Mbissi Village. As time went by, this woman and her family continued sharing of the word of God and praying together every Sunday. She went ahead to invite members of the village to join her family for Sunday prayers. This invitation bore much fruit so that the number of the people who met in the house church increased to form a Small Christian Community with more than 15 families. This too increased and they formed a simple mission station which met in the unused section of the shop of the man who had accepted the house church to be started in his home.


Women at building site

The growth of the community of faith did not end at this point but the love, support and the commitment of the members kept drawing more people particularly women and their children to the church in Mbissi. As their number kept increasing, the section of the shop became too small to accommodate all of them every Sunday. In order to create more room, the Christian community moved on to assemble each Sunday in a community hall in Mbissi Village. However, the generous man who donated his house and a section of the shop was not content. This is because the hall is used by traditional leaders in the village for their traditional meetings. The village youths also used it for their entertainment in some seasons. For him, these functions were not really portraying the church as a place of encounter with God and his message of love. Faced by this, he went ahead and donated another piece of land for building the Church. This newly growing church worked so hard and build their church in this new plot. They treasured it because it gave them an identity as Catholics in their village.

It is amazing to hear of the growth of faith in this village. Even after settling in their new place of worship, their number kept increasing tremendously and at present their treasured church has become too small again for them.

So they have bought a bigger piece of land where they have started putting up a bigger Church (they call it ‘Mbissi Cathedral’). Women are the majority in this Church, they are poor but powered by the gift of faith. They have laid the foundation of their new Church, molded mud bricks and built its walls. I was privileged to bless the foundation of this new Church in December 2016. This was a day of joy to the community of faith in Mbissi. Roofing this church remains a major challenge to the Catholics of this village. The long rainy season in Cameroon is likely to destroy and frustrate the efforts of the poor women who have toiled a lot to put up the Church in their village but have no way to get enough funds to complete it.

May the generous Lord, who planted the seed of faith and cared for it to grow like the mustard seed in this village generously provide for its completion.

Like the people of God in Mbissi Village, may the Holy Spirit open our hearts to receive the gift of faith with joy, give it a chance to transform us and share it with others so that they too may become disciples of the Lord.

Fr Lawrence Otieno mhm


Work in progress. Mbissi church

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