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In the face of despair, churches lead a growing “crusade for peace” in Cameroon

In the face of despair, churches lead a growing “crusade for peace” in Cameroon

Christians of the Fako South Presbytery (Limbe) marching during the launching of the International Day of Peace 2020. Photo: Presbyterian Church in Cameroon

21 September 2020

In Cameroon, hundreds of people are praying for peace, and they are also singing, dancing, marching, and listening to reflections led by people of faith who are calling for a ceasefire—now.

A service in the Molyko Stadium organized by the Presbyterian Church of Cameroon was billed as “a crusade for peace” by The Star newspaper in Cameroon.

Collectively, these actions for peace represent to many not only hope for the future but a cry of despair for the present circumstances. With many people reporting they feel increasingly desperate and alone, church leaders are risking attacks by both government and guerrilla forces.

As Rt. Rev. Fonki Samuel Forba, moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Cameroon, reflected in a meditation, “The pain of agony has overwhelmed us. The cry of helplessness is getting louder and louder every day.”

He spoke also on how God’s people can “Seek Peace and Pursue It!”

Forba lamented that we live in moments of great evil in our society. “Both the strong and the weak are caught up in this great evil,” he said. “The smoke of destruction has filled the atmosphere.”

But he believes peace is attainable. “I do not believe that in this country, we have problems that are above us to resolve peacefully,” he said. “I challenge all of us to work for peace from this day forward and regain that prestigious position of peace in sub-Saharan Africa.”

Celebration of the International day of Peace in Bafut Presbytery, Cameroon. Photo: Presbyterian Church in Cameroon

International Day of Peace

The stadium service and the activities were centered around the International Day of Peace, observed each year on 21 September. The day, established in 1981 by the UN General Assembly, was founded to strengthen the ideals of peace both within and among nations and peoples, through observing a 24 hours of nonviolence and ceasefire. The 2020 theme for the International Day of Peace is “Shaping Peace Together.”

A peace walk offered Christians of the various congregations in the Fako North Presbytery the opportunity to march with peace plants as they called for an urgent return of peace in the northwest and southwest regions of Cameroon.

Pastors offered a series of intercessory prayers and, as part of activities, the Presbyterian Church of Cameroon’s National Peace Office released a second edition of the Peace Summit Magazine, a product of the Peace Journalism and Conflict Transformation Project sponsored by the church along with Bread for the World.

Cease all hostilities

A special ceasefire call from an ecumenical women’s group was published on 21 September. The women express that they are “alarmed by significant human rights abuses committed by both security forces and separatist armed groups in Cameroon.”

They call for parties to the conflict to: “respect human life and dignity and protect the population to stop the alarming death toll” and “cease all hostilities by all armed actors immediately.”

Rev. Dr Paul Mbende Ngando, secretary general of the Council of Protestant Churches in Cameroon, released a 21 September statement urging people to stand against hatred. “This is the time to join forces and stand the gap for the voiceless, decry the dehumanizing conditions of victims of war and violent conflicts, and plead for God’s mercy on our nation,” the statement reads. “Life is better in a community where peace exists.”

WCC appeals to UN: human rights must be upheld in Cameroon (WCC press release 09 September 2020)

Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa urges prayers for Cameroon (WCC press release 03 September 2020)

In troubled Cameroon, hard-hit Presbyterian church leads peace efforts (WCC press release 27 August 2020)

WCC member churches in Cameroon