By David Anderson with Matt Petersen
“As I waited outside one of the local morgues in Yaoundé for the ‘levée du corps’ (removal of the body) to take to the church for the memorial service … I was amazed at the number of people that were there during the work day,” said David Anderson, who serves with Wycliffe in Cameroon, Africa.
Sadly, the wife of one of David’s Cameroonian colleagues had just passed away. Following local custom, David was at the morgue to pay his respects and to show his love and support for his friend.
“I found it hard to imagine hundreds of people standing outside in the States waiting with you for a loved one’s body to be released,” said David. But here in Cameroon, a crowd outside the morgue is a common sight, “along with all the vendors who walked by offering to sell nuts, tissues, a piece of gum, or even an egg sandwich.”
“There were easily three times more people there than those who went to the actual church service,” David continued. “We waited about an hour and a half, and then they carried her coffin to the car that would transport her to the church. I didn’t go to the final burial. … It was ten hours away from where I live. They drove all night to get there to bury the body the next day.”
Many at the morgue were part of the Oku language community, which recently celebrated the completion of its New Testament translation. Another colleague of David’s had brought a copy of the translation to give to the colleague who had lost his wife, and, while they waited, she asked an Oku woman sitting beside her to read from it so others could listen and be encouraged. The woman agreed, but, although she spoke Oku, she’d never read in the language before.
“As we sat under the overhang outside the mortuary,” David said, “she had her first literacy lesson in Oku.”
The woman began by reading 1 Corinthians 15:20, “But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died,” (NLT).
Although their hearts were heavy with the loss of a loved one, hearing this Scripture in their mother tongue was a huge encouragement to the Oku Christians gathered around—a reminder of the eternal hope we have in Christ Jesus.
The woman then read Revelation 7:17, “For the Lamb on the throne will be their Shepherd. He will lead them to springs of life-giving water. And God will wipe every tear from their eyes,” (NLT).
Finishing the verse, she said, “Reading this took away my tears.”
That’s just the sort of thing we love to hear!