By Nancy Dashwood
COKATO, MN Sometimes, people’s supportive actions travel farther than they think.
The congregation of Cokato Evangelical Lutheran Church recently got to hear first-hand how their financial and prayerful support has rippled forward to impact many lives in Cameroon.
(The country of Cameroon is located on the Gulf of Guinea, in Central Africa.)
Minnesota missionary comes home
Pastor Elisabeth Johnson, who grew up in southern Minnesota and northern Iowa, and has served congregations in Stillwater and Watertown, recently visited Cokato Evangelical Lutheran Church. She was there to share her experiences as a missionary in Cameroon.
The congregation is one of approximately 50 that sponsors Johnson’s work training pastors in Cameroon.
Cokato Evangelical Lutheran Church’s Pastor Timothy Wheatley indicated his congregation hand-picked Johnson after reading about her work. Church members had been talking about her ministry for several years, and hosted a talent show to raise funds for Johnson’s ministry.
Wheatley learned that Johnson would be spending her summer in the US about six months ago.
“We quickly sought to see if she could come share her message with us,” he said.
Johnson was happy to oblige. “Cokato ELC is one of the congregations that has regularly communicated with me, and invited me to visit on my home assignment years,” she said.
Preaching and teaching in her homeland
During the church’s Aug. 12 worship service, Johnson preached about the Bible story from John 6, in which Jesus feeds 5,000 people with five loaves of bread and two fish.
Wheatley reported her message was wonderful.
“She talked about how God graciously gives the world enough food for all those living on it now, but often there are still shortages because of war and inequity,” he said. “She also then told us about how food was not enough, but we all had spiritual hunger and Christ was the only one who could feed that need in us.”
Following the worship service, Johnson shared more about her personal experiences during the church’s fellowship hour.
Johnson presented pictures of Cameroon and inspirational stories from her time spent there.
“She talked about everything from Boko Haram, to politics, to lifestyle issues,” Wheatley said.
(Collins English Dictionary defines Boko Haram as “a militant and violent Islamic organization established in NE Nigeria in 2002, and also active in Niger, Chad, and Cameroon.” Loosely translated, Boko Haram means western education is forbidden.)
Wheatley said attendees had many questions about life in Cameroon and how the message of Christ’s salvation is received there.
Wheatley said Johnson’s visit was a positive one. “I believe her being here made her ministry real for people,” he said. “It’s a celebration of the ministry that they have already been doing.”
Wheatley also said he believed Johnson’s visit will help her mission work in Cameroon continue.
“Seeing the fruit of your labor gets you excited to do more,” he said. “So because they got to hear about her work directly from her and were able to ask her questions about our ministry, it furthered a connection with her.” Wheatley said.
Wheatley said he believes Johnson’s visit will impact those who heard her message.
“I also pray that they will be moved to step out of their comfort zones and reach out,” he said. “After all, if God called a pastor from Watertown to teach in Cameroon, maybe God is calling them to speak the good news in the grocery store or even when they go to the cities.”
Where to learn more
The Cokato Evangelical Lutheran Church is located at 280 3rd Street SE. The church hosts a worship service each Sunday at 9 a.m., and it is broadcast live on Litchfield radio station KLFD, 1410 on the AM dial and KLFD 95.9 on the FM dial. The church’s website is www.elchome.net.