Confronting the power behind African Traditional Religion


One of the biggest challenges Tim and Amy Moline face in Cameroon is African Traditional Religion (ATR). ATR is deeply rooted, even in the lives of Christians, who fear spiritual attacks and curses. A music minister at a local Cameroonian church came under attack by jujus (members of a powerful secret society whose purpose is to enforce ATR) for allegedly defiling sacred masks and music.

“The music minister was in no way using real masks and props and stolen instruments,” Tim said. “He had helped produce music videos for a local church, showing people breaking free from traditional religion and coming to Christ. He used music he found on the internet. He never stole anything.”

'They will die in three days'

The traditional rulers were convinced the man had stolen the items, so they placed curses on anyone, especially the women, who had seen the masks.

“They said certain women were going to die in three days, then they are going to die in seven days, and finally they said one year,” Tim said. “But nothing ever happened. No one died.”

Amy points out the situation started an intense conflict in their small town. The jujus threatened to kill the music minister and started destroying his house. For protection the music pastor was given refuge at Cameroon Baptist Theological Seminary. Yet Christ was still glorified through the crisis.

“This taught people to trust in God and not fear the traditions,” Amy said. “They are so afraid of the curses, but they saw the failure of the traditional power. One older woman said, ‘Christ really is powerful, I can put my faith in him.’ It was a victory for the gospel.”

Changing lives through seminary training

The Molines felt called to the field in 2008 when they joined with the Cameroon Baptist Convention and began serving at the Cameroon Baptist Theological Seminary. Tim says the CBC is great at planting churches, but they need help training leaders.

“There are over 1000 churches but only about 500 to 600 trained pastors,” Tim said. “We have a great opportunity to come alongside and multiply the number of trained ministers. Each year we have about 250 students and about 50 graduates. The potential for impact is tremendous.”

“Just being in the classroom, you see transformative things. Many of them may seem small,” Tim said. “It’s a short conversation, looking at a Bible passage, when for the first time a student sees how that passage is actually relevant and transformative to them and their culture and their situation. Students need to see the relevance to their culture to be able to fight ATR.”

'My language doesn’t have any alphabet yet.'

The Molines aren’t the only ones facing challenges. Cameroon has more than 260 languages and most don’t have a Bible translation yet. One of Tim’s students said, “My language doesn’t have any alphabet yet.” Imagine trying to grow in your own faith and lead a church or ministry without a Bible in your own language. Bible translators often relay the story of people reading God’s Word in their language for the first time, who say, “Now I know that God loves me; he speaks my language.” CBTS is training Bible translators and every translation student has at least one class with Tim.

When the Molines return to Cameroon this summer for their next term, they hope to bring with them new coaching techniques to help the teachers multiply themselves. Tim says it’s hard to get teachers, and they are often short-staffed.

Even with the challenges, the Molines are still seeing the Holy Spirit work in the lives of those around them.

Want to help? The Molines are in need of a vehicle. Partner with them here.

Photos: Tim Moline

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    Point - September 2018

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