The touching and inspiring Life of Rev. Pastor N Fai

The touching and inspiring Life of Rev. Pastor N Fai laid to rest 12th May 2012. Dear Readers, I have read, seen and listen to stories of and about the Men/women of God. Permit me use the word Wo/man of God in this paper for a better understanding, since we are all Sons and Daughters of God. This particular story of Rev P.N Fai touches me most, not because I have read with emotions but also with a learning attitude. I never on earth imagined that a retired Pastor is sent from the church to fend for himself. The values of the Catholic Church and growing up as a catholic Christian must have blinded me to think and believe narrowly that priests and pastors are treated the same especially with the mainstream religions and churches. In Cameroon when we talk about main stream Christians churches, we have mainly three of them (Catholic, Presbyterian and Baptist), Orthodox, Anglicans, Pentecostals (Full Gospels & Born again) have never been that popular in Cameroon when I grew up. I am not in any form minimizing any church but rather sharing what I grew up to witness and believe. Something about the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon dated 2007 when they celebrated their Golden Jubilee:
The Presbyterian Church in Cameroon (PCC), is the outcome of the pioneering work of the Basel Mission (now Mission 21). Five of their missionaries, led by the Rev. Gottlieb Munz and his wife, arrived on our shores on the 23rd of December, 1886. The others were the Rev. Christian Dilger, the Rev. Johannes Bizer and the Rev. Friederich Becher. Four days later, one of them, the Rev. Becher died. Though broken and disillusioned, they did not give up. They went on with their work as valiant soldiers of Jesus Christ. Writing to the homeboard the Rev. Dilger stated: “It is the Lord whom it has pleased to introduce our band in such a way. We therefore can and will not withdraw”. The work of the Basel Mission also gave birth to the Eglise Evangelique du Cameroun (headquarters in Douala) and the Eglise Presbyterienne Camerounaise (headquarters in Yaounde). The origins of the constitutional autonomy of the PCC in 1957, could be traced to 1917. It was World War I, and all the missionaries of the Basel Mission being German, were expelled from Cameroon. Since 1957, the growth of the Church has been phenomenal. The membership has moved from 59.000 to almost one million today. The Health Services have expanded to 20 units including a specialist eye hospital in Bafoussam. In education there are now 15 secondary schools as against one in 1957 and 130 primary schools. The Christian movements like CYF, CWF and CMF, all founded after 1957 now boast of thousands in their ranks. And the church which was hitherto limited only to the Anglophone territories is now established in all the ten provinces. Their Seminary launched its post-graduate programme 2008, and will eventually become a constituent school of the envisaged Christian University.
That when a Pastor is retired, he is asked to leave the church and fend for himself is still very new to me. The Catholic Church in Kumbo diocese has retired many priests amongst which we had Fr Wankuiy Aloysius, Fr Patrick Losha, Fr Bernard Stopel, Fr Veranso, Fr Acha just to name a few all of Blessed memories. Once these priests were retired, a diplomatic word was always used, “in residence in….” This made me believed that Pastors from the Baptist and Presbyterians churches had similar treatments. It was not until I read the “so called controversial farewell speech on the occasion of the departure of my dad,” by Visha Fai that I saw the other sign of the coin. Before I share this touching speech, permit me share some reflections about Pastorship. The word “Pastor” has become more controversial today than 30 years back. Many people in the world today use the word “pastor” as simply another word for a minister or evangelist. Sometimes others who hear the word used that way and think it is proper for them to use the word that way, too.
The word “pastor” appears just one time in the New Testament and that one time is in Ephesians 4:11. We find in verses 11 and following that evangelists and pastors are listed separately; they are not serving the same function. The word that is translated “pastors” in Ephesians 4:11 is used elsewhere in the New Testament. Other two places where the word is interpreted as pastor are found on Acts 20:28, and 1 Peter 5:2. The way it is translated most often gives us insight into the function of those who can rightly be described as a pastor. This word is translated as “shepherd” in the King James Version of the Bible but my common knowledge of a Shepherd in the Catholic Church is reserved or referred to the Bishop. If we therefore take the Pastor in this case to mean a shepherd, then those who can rightly be called pastors are spiritual shepherds and Spiritual Shepherds are ordained for life. John Allan states that “You can properly use the term “pastor” to describe the elders in a congregation of the Church. Such men serve as overseers of that congregation and the description “pastor” or shepherd is appropriate to describe that function.” If we go by the definition of Jason Jackson then we can feel free to say that the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon or Kumbo in particular failed in many ways give Pastor Fai the Good life he deserved. “These terms — elder, bishop, and pastor — are used of the same service in the church. These words describe a man who is older and experienced in the faith (i.e., an elder); a person who is a decision-maker, manager of church affairs, and leader (i.e., bishop); and one who maintains a careful watch for the spiritual needs of all the members of the flock (i.e., a pastor).”
Although in the speech I see eye to eye with Rev Pastor of the challenges of a Good Christians but emotions will not let me see some injustice exercised. To me suffering should come as part of the ministry not as a result of pain inflicted by the institution. It would only need a man of his caliber to be able to incur what he did till death. I am forwarding this speech with the hope that the church not only the Presbyterian will understand the needs of its servants and teach with examples giving rights and equal opportunities to all. Pastor Fais story reminds me of the same stories we get from all Mission institutions, where catechists with large family members receive a salary of 2500 frs CFA a month in some places, teachers receive a salary not worth their life yet they still educate their children in the same mission schools. I had a situation where catechists in Kumbo Parish will meet monthly at the cathedral, some trekking from Dzeng, Kifem and Bamdzeng areas only to return with no salary yet or with less than 3000 frs CFA.
As you read this farewell speech, my Hope is that Christians play a vital role to make sure that, priests, pastors, catechists, teachers etc are given a fair treatment by the authorities that may be and not only wait for action to come from above. They work for the Glory of God yet they too, do have a life to live and live it to the full. Have a Lovely weekend and enjoy reading the Speech below by Visha Emmanuel Fai, touching but food for thought... Shey Tatah Wo scandy
A SPEECH OF WELCOME TO THE GUESTS WHO HONOURED REV. P.N. FAI’S INVITATION ON HIS FINAL RIDE HOME TO GLORY. The clergy here present, the laity, friends and family, it is with great joy that we receive you to this wonderful feast organized by our Father, grand father, great grandfather, uncle, brother, cousin you name it for the man we are about to inter today was related to every one in one way or the other. We are therefore not going to make a monopoly of this legend. I can see people fidgeting because we said it was with great joy that we welcomed them here to an event where people ought to be shedding tears. Our father is gone but we believe very strongly that given his faith in God Almighty even in the face of all difficulties, he never gave up. His last words were “the fight was not an easy one but I fought hard and have won. Remain united, be each other’s keeper and believe only in God. Know that the devil exists and is wicked.” These were the last words of our father to our sister who stayed with him until he gave up the ghost. Why would we not then rejoice when a man says himself that he had won the battle? The devil and God is in all of us seated here today like he used to preach to his Christians and to us his children. If you do good to your fellow man you are God’s agent and if all you plan for your brothers and sisters is evil then you are the devil’s agent.
He lived up to all challenges that came his way and had a simple response to all difficulties. “If it’s God’s will, so be it.” Our father however had a harrowing experience though he braved it. When the Church in its wisdom decided to experiment on retiring Pastors, it used our dad as the guinea pig for such experiment. Had he had no foresight to build a modest home for himself while in active service where did the Church expect him to retire with his family? It did not end there. They were giving him 9,000 CFA per month as a stipend awaiting his retirement benefits to come from the National Social Insurance Fund a moribund government outfit which the Church knew or ought to know that it catered more for its employees and not for the interests of those who contributed to the fund. It was a hard blow for one who had sacrificed a lot for the Church. Five years after he had retired the Synod sat in Kumba and decided to review his situation and repair the injustice that had been meted out to him. Three of them would have gone on retirement that year but the then Moderator and the Synod Clerk continued in active service. The highest body of the Church decided to compensate him for those five years but after they saw an amount which they imagined was colossal they reneged from their initial promise to repair the moral damage they had done him and did not even pay him any part of that amount. With all his children still going to school and none of them either on government or church’s scholarship, he felt really frustrated and we the children saw the church as evil and a place not to be. Instead, he strengthened his attachment to the same church that had molested him saying God knows why and that we should not question the ways of God. “Your ways are not my ways and your thoughts not my thoughts says the Lord” he would quote and disarm us. His situation got so bad that he had to send his last three daughters to a cheap private school which he later negotiated and got for the Church. The irony of it all was that when Pa negotiated and got the school for the church, his sons one with a degree and another with A\ levels in technical education applied to teach in that school and their applications were turned down with no specific reasons. Again we got up in arms against that treatment given our father via this denial but he told us he did not fight to get the school for the church to resolve his children’s unemployment problems thereby disarming us again. How would anyone in his sane mind not see this injustice and revolt against it? The situation which I have described here above is just the tip of the iceberg of the hell he went through with stoic acceptance in God’s will. Can any of you believe that it was during this period that he engaged himself body and soul to erect this edifice in which we are all seated today? It was also at this moment that he encouraged one of us Rev. Dr. Fai Michael to take his reins in the same church. He was indeed a man of faith. We are calling on the church to review its attitude towards Pastors. There are Pastors who are ordained to serve in the cities and others for the villages. This practice should change and Pastors given a decent standing in the society no matter where they are found. We were taught that a priest is ordained for ever. Let the young prelates in active service not despise their predecessors in title for they remain to be God’s shepherds even on retirement. The Church should equally review its Providence fund which it created to assist Pastors on retirement and revive it the state’s institution for such services having become miscreant and untrustworthy. We are saying so with the background of what happened to one institution to which one of us belongs. Workers retirement benefits had been paid to the state’s coffers for seventeen years and after they retired, no benefits were forthcoming and they had to return to their former employer who investigated and found out that such funds had been misappropriated. They were bound in their goodness to pay lump sums to such workers again but with a heavy price for the state’s institution. They withdrew all contributions to that fund and are running an independent scheme to the chagrin and dissatisfaction of the government. They as a body are strong enough to fight the government and it is my firm belief that the church can do same if they stand united in purpose. Mission schools which were initially the schools of the poor have become the schools of the wealthy. Has the church got any moral right to accuse the state of corruption and other nefarious activities? What is the quality of children brought up in what we call state schools? Their morning devotion is singing the national anthem and hoisting a flag that no one respects. The argument has gone on for a long time that the state has failed in its duty to subvent the churches’ institutions but I want to challenge that position and say that there is some form of mismanagement in the church that Christians fear to point out. The schools that we are using today were built by missionaries several years ago and we have added nothing new to those buildings. Mission school fees have fired rocket high with the lame excuse that inflation has forced the cost of everything upwards. Why should the church collect high fees and pay their teachers with pitiable salaries? How many teachers teaching in mission schools can afford to sponsor their own children in such schools? Does that not tell you that there is something fundamentally wrong with the high fees collected? The children are equally poorly fed. Sorry for this long deviation but we thought it necessary that we should use this opportunity to x-ray the church and continue the fight from where our father has left it. He did tell us to go ahead and try to correct the ills affecting the church of God and leading many people astray with neither fear nor favour. As children we saw our father arrested twice by gendarmes in the sixties. They ransacked our house and our father’s office and collected the photographs of OK members which they sent to him from their exile. He was whisked away to Yaounde and faced Ahidjo life with the late Professor Fonlon acting as interpreter. He was accused of supporting rebels. Fortunately for our dad he posed questions which Ahidjo who was dreaded like the plague could not answer but ordered that he be sent back to Kumbo. He asked Ahidjo why the investigating gendarmes did not bring to him, he Ahidjo’s own photograph that was equally in his keeping and those of late Dr. Endeley, Foncha et al. This story is to illustrate that until he died, he fought injustice in all its forms in the church and the state. To honor him, we should continue the fight against injustice. To honor him further we call on all and sundry seated here today to give their widows mite so that this huge God’s house he was building be completed and used to win more souls to God. To his family the Mbohkinsaan family he urged his brothers and sisters to remain united and live for each other. Family land he ruled was not for sale and for this he fell out with some of his family members and we could understand where he was coming from. The land we presently are occupying was bought by him from the squatters who settled on it illegally. He bought over the land and the crops therein and invited his brothers to come and build on it but unfortunately they instead embarked on selling it to third parties. We want to reiterate here that we will live to respect his wishes and warn those of his brothers who now think that the land is for sale to understand that we will not let them have it for free. We have receipts as to how he acquired the land and if you want to sell, you’ll have to produce receipts to show proof of how you acquired it yourself. The land remains to be the Mbohkinsaan family land and if any son/daughter of this family wants to build, the land is available for her/him to do so. This part of his Will will be implemented to the letter. Thanks again for attending this wonderful feast and Papa you can see that your invitation has been highly honored by those who believe in God. Amen. Fai Emmanuel Visha

4 comments:

  1. Shey Tatah, you blinded it well from where Mr Fai Emmanuel ended.
    During the 13th Board of Governors meeting of PCHS Kumbo, the administration of the suggested that the school be made a full boarding school. I as Ex-student President protested and only Late Pastor Fai supported me. But we ended up winning the debate. From then I knew him as one who stood for the comfort of the poor and less privilege. Today you can tell the story of ''Tin-Kun'' from when it became the school of the rich. I am happy that after several attempts, the present administration of the school saw with me and the new administration has accepted that the dual 'day/boarding system be re-established in PCHS. Parents can afford the education they need for their children at low cost. As for the teachers the present administration of the church is not taking it lightly. Change is in the pipe line.

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    1. Smart one there for you mr Tardze Adamu...Thanks for reading and never be scared of the truth...

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  2. this is a clear indication how some of the mainstream treats their pastors and priest.Its high time the church caters for the well being of her shepherds

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