Marie-Noëlle: A Life of Sacrifice

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers (and sisters) when you encounter trials of many kinds, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance…”
-James 1:2-3

 

I’d like to tell you the story of a woman who might seem forgotten. Many of us probably feel like we’re not seen by others in our situation in life, but in a sweet little house in an obscure part of Yaoundé with little social media, one could really feel a sense of isolation.

Marie-Noëlle is the oldest of nine, growing up in a pretty part of Yaounde, where she learned how to take care of her siblings, barter at the market, clean the house, cook, and bake, all at a young age. She’s now married with 7 year old twins, who are kind, strong, and intelligent, and want to help their mom with everything. She uses all the skills from her upbringing in her work today, along with patient endurance. It might appear as though no one notices what she’s been through or what she does, but we know God sees her and I want to make it known to others.

To protect her privacy, I’m not going to share all that she has faced, including 7 years of infertility, in a country where the desire to be fertile is pushed. I can say that it’s not easy for many Cameroonian women to make a way for themselves, but somehow, by the grace of God in her life, this woman has made a way for her and her family to live vibrantly. She told me you have to pass through the waters of difficulty to get to the other side. When she prays, she knows God hears her. She leaves her requests with Him and offers a sacrifice of praise as the winds of trouble come. Marie-Noëlle often encourages me with her frank advice and care for others. She sees the pain that others face and wants to help them out, even while suffering herself.

God brought her to our house at the perfect moment, and her friendship has given me a greater love for Cameroon. By her actions, she has taught me to stop looking at myself, but to Jesus, to laugh a little more, and not to take myself so seriously. If any of you are feeling discouraged, take a look at the life of Marie-Noëlle and think what God can do with a person who’s suffered many things.

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Marie-Noëlle : Une vie de sacrifice

Mes frères, regardez comme un sujet de joie complète les diverses épreuves auxquelles vous pouvez être exposés, sachant que l’épreuve de votre foi produit la patience…
Jacques 1.2-3

Je voudrais raconter une histoire d’une femme qui à première vue on peut imaginer oubliée. C’est certain qu’il y a plusieurs qui sentent qu’ils ne sont pas vus par les autres dans leur situation, mais dans une petite gentille maison dans un quartier obscure de Yaoundé, avec peu de média social, on peut vraiment sentir une solitude unique et profond.

Marie-Noëlle est l’aîné de neuf, élevée dans un quartier jolie de Yaoundé, où elle a appris de s’occuper des enfants, marchander, nettoyer la maison efficacement, et cuisinier, tout ça quand elle était petite. Elle est mariée avec jumeaux de sept ans, qui sont gentils, forts, et intelligents, et qui voudraient aider leur maman avec tout. Elle utilise toutes ses compétences de sa jeunesse dans son travail aujourd’hui, et bien avec l’endurance patient. Il peut apparaître comme personne est reconnaissante pour ce qu’elle fait ou pour les choses qu’elle a vécues, mais on sait que Dieu la voit et je veux le publier aux autres.

Pour protéger sa vie privée, je ne vais pas partager tout ce qu’elle a vécu, y compris 7 ans d’infertilité, dans un pays ou le désir d’être fertile est poussé. Je peux dire que ce n’est pas facile pour beaucoup de camerounaises de faire une chemin pour elles-mêmes, mais par la grâce de Dieu dans sa vie, cette femme a fait une chemin pour elle et pour sa famille de vivre avec vivacité. Elle m’a dit qu’il faut passer par les eaux de difficulté pour obtenir le bien sur l’autre coté. Quand elle prie, elle sait que Dieu vraiment l’entend. Elle laisse ses supplications avec lui et offrit une sacrifice de louange pendant que les vents de trouble soufflent. Marie-Noëlle souvent m’encourage avec ses conseils francs et son soin pour les autres. Elle voit le douleur que les autres vivent et voudrait les aider, même si elle souffrit elle-même.

Dieu l’a apporté a notre maison au moment parfait, et son amitié me donne une vrai amour pour le Cameroun. Par ses actions, elle m’a enseignée de ne pas me regarder, mais de mettre mon regard sur Jésus, de rire un peu plus, et de ne pas me prendre sérieusement. S’il y a quelqu’un parmi vous qui se sent découragé, prends un regard a la vie de Marie-Noëlle et réfléchis à ce que Dieu peut faire avec une personne qui a souffert beaucoup de choses.

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Contrasts

Deadly mosquitoes and lush vegetation; mango flies that lay eggs in your skin and juicy mangoes; warm embraces and stealing; poverty and joy in the Spirit…Just a few of the contrasts I’ve noticed in Cameroon. The pain in one’s life can produce an abundance of true joy by the power of God. I’ve seen that here. In church, many people are struggling financially. Our church is not in the nicest part of town. We are situated on a bumpy dirt road that has wild chickens walking on it. Some children don’t have a male figure in their life. There are always health problems and business problems that need to be prayed for…Something to agonize over, to sweat over. And yet, there is the presence of real joy on their faces as they worship their God. It is something that has broken me and made me in awe of my God. One of my favorite things is to join in the worship with our church here. It reminds me of why we are in Cameroon. It is real, unashamed. Prayer becomes a battle for the hurting, and we engage in this battle together. In worship, suddenly it doesn’t matter what color of skin we have, what culture we’re from, how much money we have.

This week I was reminded of contrasts of living here in a big way. A team of men that repair and move things for our mission was here in the yard that we share. They brought a cabinet for our place, which we’re about to leave, and expected that I let them exchange it with another on the spot. This meant that I let them come into the house without warning and that I drop everything to move all the utensils to the other cabinet. I tried to express my displeasure with the timing and lack of notice, but it didn’t seem to be communicated well. Later, they decided that they didn’t need to take the old cabinet after all, and soon I heard them climbing up the avocado tree to help themselves. It was a discouraging day because I felt like I didn’t have a place of my own to retreat to, and I wished that I wasn’t so irritated about the event. I was reminded that this place is not my home and that the culture is different. However, the following day, I talked to Marie Noelle, my house help, about the event. She was also bothered about what happened, and felt that they had no right to behave like that. She and her two kids came with us to the pool and we ate lunch together. It was a wonderful day. The kids played together like old friends and Titus ended the day by saying that he has some new friends. At lunch, Marie Noelle thanked God that He had already made us like a family. I was touched by this and was given a glimpse into the larger plan of God. Even though life looks different for us here, He has brought us some precious relationships that will last. I think we’re going to like it here.

Paul’s Thanksgiving List

We have so much to be thankful for in America – apple pie, football, embarrassing wealth, relative safety, religious freedom… These are good things and it is right for us to thank God for them. But is it only in America that we have so much to be thankful for? What about our brothers and sisters in Christ who live in Haiti or China or Nigeria or Syria? Has God blessed them less than He has us?

“Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.”
-Philippians 3:8

Apple pie is good and it is good and necessary for us to give thanks for our apple pie to “God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy,”  (1 Timothy 6:17). But as we give thanks for God’s lesser gifts, let’s be sure we don’t neglect His greater gifts. Let’s count our blessings like Paul does in Ephesians 1:

  • Chosen by God
  • A Holy and Blameless future
  • Adopted by God
  • Lavished with Grace
  • Redemption through Jesus’ Blood
  • Forgiveness of our trespasses
  • Knowing the mystery of His will
  • Unity with Christ
  • Inheritance in the Kingdom
  • Hearing the Word of Truth
  • Salvation
  • The Holy Spirit

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love, he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us in all wisdom and insight, making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.”
-Ephesians 1:3-14

 

Scripture quoted from the ESV.