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Of Proliferation Of Churches And 

By Joseph Weno & Cecilia Mojoko* — They often start in small houses, garages, dilapidating or uncompleted structures as prayer groups. Suddenly, the founders and its foremost converts start using megaphones and other loud sounding gadgets to attract other “souls that need to be saved”.

Many of these “ministries” with some self-styled pastors, prophets, evangelists, bishops and other religious titles emanate from traditional religious denominations. Their mode of worship either angers those who say they want to have their peace or catches the attention of a sinner in search of salvation.

Over the years, many of such church houses have mushroomed in many of Cameroon’s major cities and towns, making inroads and luring away faithful of traditional denominations, whose mode of preaching has become insipid and, according to some Christians, boring. The Pentecostal churches are now competing with the so-called main churches and are pushing them to change their ritualistic ways of worship and preaching the Gospel.

At the moment, it is unclear how many churches exist in Cameroon (the legal and the illegal) apparently due to the absence of data. But government that has maintained a nonchalant attitude to the exponential growth of churches is now resolute on weeping out those it terms “illegal churches”. Cameroon generally enjoys religious tolerance following the 1990 law on Freedom of Association. Since then, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of religious organisations in the country.

Christianity and Islam are the two main religions in Cameroon. According to , approximately 70 percent of the population of Cameroon is at least nominally Christian, while 21 percent is at least nominally Moslem. Six percent practice traditional indigenous religious beliefs and the remaining three adhere to Judaism, the Bahai faith, or are persons who do not associate themselves with any particular religious movement.

According to the same source, the Christian population is divided between Roman Catholics (38.4 percent of the total population), Protestants 26.3 percent and other Christian denominations (Including Jehovah Witnesses 4 percent). Buea, capital of the Southwest Region, for instance, is host to a score of Pentecostal churches among them Full Gospel, The Apostolic Church, Deeper life, Winners’ Chapel, Christ Embassy, Fullness of the Spirit ,Arm of the Lord Church, The Redeemed Christian Church and The True Church Of God.

There is even a case in the Santa Barbara, Wokoko neighbourhood where three different churches are located on the same building. In a meeting of the Association of priests of the Ecclesiastical Province of Bamenda, that took place recently in Ombe, the Association President, Rev. Fr John Ambe, reiterated that many Catholic Christians are abandoning the faith for Pentecostal churches.

Meanwhile, the Parish Priest of St Peter and Paul University Parish in Molyko, Rev. Fr. Celestine Diang, told The Post that gullible Christians are deceived by some churches that claim to offer very easy solutions, which actually are not possible. According to him, many of such churches preach that “The cross is not my portion”, which is contrary to the words of Jesus Christ.

Pentecostal churches on their part maintain that all they preach and do is Biblical. They also hold that, all who oppose and criticise them are merely persecutors whom the Bible foretells. A pastor in Molyko- Buea, who preferred anonymity, said his church, Fullness of The Spirit, preaches the truth, and that he is aware there will always be fights against the truth, as it were in the days of Jesus.

The said pastor explained that the spirit of God always reveals new truths and brings about new movements. According to him, ‘’those who embrace the new truth, move ahead and in some cases form new churches, while those who reject it stay behind and fight those who are moving in the Spirit”.

When asked whether miracles do occur in his church as publicised, the Pastor answered that: “They have been happening so mightily, not once, not twice.” Although he did not pinpoint any particular case of a miracle that has taken place in his church, he explained that the greatest of all miracles is the salvation of a man’s soul and his transfer from the Kingdom of eternal damnation to the Kingdom of God

The lead Pastor of Winners’ Chapel, John Nchamukong, is quoted as having said in an interview with Ecumenical News International (ENI) that: “There is nothing God cannot do, so we tell those without jobs that if they come to us, we will jointly pray with them to procure jobs. To the sick, they don’t need the hospital because Jesus is the supreme Healer and to the lame we will make them whole.”

A Baptist pastor in Buea, Rev. Martin Monjimbo Ekema, told The Post that, he has no problem with the proliferation of churches, provided Jesus is preached. In response to whether miracles occur in the Baptist church, he said yes, but explained that their emphasis is not on miracles but on the word of God and its importance in every Christian’s life.

He further said that, although miracles are biblical, some churches unfortunately miss the mark and misplace their priorities.  A resident in Great Soppo, Hilbert Asong, said the problem with the proliferation of churches is that these churches always play very loud music even at night, disturbing other citizens’ sleep.

He reiterated that, as more churches come up, spirituality levels instead drop and sin increases. He said this is because today’s churches are merely religious businesses. Reverend Father Diang explained that in the midst of this chaos, the head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis has written an Encyclical titled: LUMEN FIDEI (The light of Faith) to guide Priests and Christians in these moments of trial.

*(UB Journalism Students On Internship)

First published in The Post print edition no 01458

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