By Beng Humphrey Fang
The atmosphere and celebrations that use to characterize Ascension Day every year In churches could not be visible everywhere this year. This comes as a result of the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus that is today a world pandemic. The Coronavirus, in some churches this year “did not permit the Ascension of Christ” as some Christians could not gather in churches to witness the spiritual event in fear of contracting the virus.
Cameroon being one of the countries affected by the Coronavirus, Ascension Day in some churches in its political capital, Yaounde took a new shape and twist. Some churches which in the yesteryears had been celebrating the day believed by some Christians that Jesus Christ went up to heaven body and soul, were ghosted while some that marked the celebration of the day did so in strict compliance and respect of preventive measures of social distancing, washing of hands and reduction of a number of church service attendants against the spread of the Covid-19.
One of the churches we visited was the always very populated Etoug-Ebe Baptist Church Yaounde. The gate of the church premises, not to talk of the church doors were not open. Not even a single Christian could be found. As we walked around the church premises to capture the ghost atmosphere, we met Rev. Mbemngong Richard, the church’s youth pastor who lives just a stone throw from the church compound.
Asked why the faithful were not around for the celebration of the Feast of Ascension, he attributed the non-celebration of the day in the church to the coronavirus which the church is one of its victims.
He said the decision of the church to observe a ghost celebration was in line with the preventive measures against the Coronavirus. Amid the preventive measures against the spread of the Coronavirus put in place by the government and the World Health Organization, the pastor disclosed strategies the church has been imploring to continue functioning or coping.
Rev Mbemngong told us that the two services that the church used to host, one in English and one in French with over a population of one thousand faithful have further been divided into four with some hosted on social media platforms to ensure social distancing is respected. Asked whether by the mystery of ascension, he believes that Christ was going up to heaven alongside the novel Coronavirus, the man of God disclosed the world is fallen and “Jesus is not ascending to heaven with the Coronavirus”.
In his words of hope and comfort to his Christians at this very challenging moment, the servant of God urged them to remain strong in faith for nothing lasts forever.
After the ghosted Etoug-Ebe Baptist church, we stopped at the Yaounde Salvation Baptist church where the believed-to-be significant day in the lives of Christians was observed in strict compliance and respect of preventive measures against the spread of the coronavirus. A bucket and cube of soap stood straight in front of the church door for Christians and whoever entering the church to wash his/her hands. social distancing during service is already designed. Seats were positioned one metre apart in respect of the set preventive measures.
The salvation Baptist church pastor, Rev. Dr Chafa Victor in his sermon dwelled on the significance and importance of Ascension which he noted, has been neglected. Ascension going by his message was the victory of Christ, the church and believers and was a sign to show that he had finished his mission on earth. As he better put it and likening Christ to a king who had gone out for war, ascension, he says was the return of Christ to his kingdom after securing a defeat and victory over his enemies as a king. “The devil is the one ruling this world” as many often say, the reverend clarified is a lie. By him, the devil is in captivity by the victory of Christ through ascension which has secured believers victory. “That the devil is the one ruling this world is a lie” he emphatically stated adding that “the devil can only rule if the church or believers refuse to rule”. “Jesus Christ ascended for us(the church and believers) to rule. He is victorious and reigns in our lives. Christ ascended to use you and for you to sit on the throne” he assured the faithful. “In what are you ruling because Christ reigns in your life?” he rhetorically asked.
By the mystery of Ascension, the young servant of God urged Christians to FEAR not and stand by their faith because victory is at hand.
Mimi Mefo Info