For the past 27 years, the influential and traditional ruler, Joseph Momo (75), has been the uncontested head chief in the Bangang community in western Cameroon. This long-standing situation abruptly changed, however, on July 28, 2012.
The events leading up to July 2012 began a few years ago. Chief Joseph’s wife, Micheline, was a teacher at the school in the Bangang palace compound. Quite impressed with the character and integrity of one of her colleagues, Mrs. Sama, a Christian and member of the Redeemed Church of Christ in Bangang, Micheline quickly developed a close, deep friendship with Mrs. Sama. Micheline eventually introduced Mrs. Sama to her husband, who granted her free access to the palace. She became a regular guest, often bringing Christian movies for the chief and his wife to watch.
In 2009, Micheline became seriously ill; her health eventually deteriorated to the point that surgery was scheduled. Before the scheduled surgery, however, Mrs. Sama brought some of her Christian friends to pray for her healing. To the astonishment of all, Micheline was healed to the extent that the doctors canceled the surgery. Micheline realized she had experienced a miracle and surrendered her life to Jesus.
Soon afterward, however, Chief Joseph began to experience bizarre visions and constant sleepless nights. Incantations were spoken over him without any results. He finally sent for a local pastor, Pastor Ndong, to pray for him. After Pastor Ndong prayed, the physical pain in Chief Joseph’s body subsided and the disturbing visions stopped. For Chief Joseph, the spiritual impact of the encounter surpassed all physical healing. He declared that, “At last I have found the one true God; to Jesus alone I will surrender my life!”
In 2010, Chief Joseph was baptized. He renounced pagan traditions and placed Pastor Ndong in charge of interceding for the village’s spiritual needs. Earlier this year, a respected, retired colonel who was unhappy with these changes strongly objected to the pastor’s involvement in their religious traditions. He began influencing the elders of the village, pressuring them to remove Joseph along with his foreign customs. Realizing that Micheline was the one who introduced Chief Joseph to the Christian faith, they accused Micheline and Pastor Ndong of destroying traditional amulets. The colonel accused her of being a curse to the community, deserving of death.
On July 28, Pastor Ndong went to the chief’s palace for the usual prayer meeting. The colonel planned with a group of men to attend the day’s harvest festival with the intention of assaulting Pastor Ndong. The pastor escaped from the attackers and hid in Micheline’s private house.
Unable to find Pastor Ndong, the masked gunmen went after Micheline. Finding her in a “women’s only” area of the palace, the men grabbed her, tore off her clothes and started beating her violently, intending to kill her quickly. Seconds before she lost consciousness, Micheline caught a glimpse of one of the men when his mask accidently came off. Chief Joseph rushed to the scene where he found his wife unconscious, naked and covered in blood. The assailants escaped, convinced that they had succeeded in their mission.
During informal investigations, they discovered that rich and influential men in the community were involved in the plot to murder Micheline, among them a parliamentarian who had been a close friend of Chief Joseph. The conspirators stated that their motive was to save and preserve their ancestral traditions. They were not prosecuted; rather, the administrative authorities publically disapproved of Chief Joseph and a complaint was filed for his immediate expulsion.
The couple is currently in hiding, taking refuge with a Christian believer. Slowly healing physically and emotionally, neither has considered giving up faith in Jesus Christ. At their advanced age, they know they are on the right track for the first time and choose to stand on His promise that everything works together for the good of those who love Him.
Father, we pray for Micheline’s speedy recovery and pray for both Micheline and Chief Joseph that they would be healed spiritually and emotionally following this trauma. We ask You to protect them and their children and to provide for them. Through these difficult circumstances, we pray that You will give them opportunities to share the gospel with boldness and wisdom. In the name of Jesus, who drew them to Himself, Amen.