The pastors of the new Pentecostal churches in Cameroon are using enormous advertising banners to recruit new members.
By Anne-Mireille Nzouankeu, Yaoundé
Since the beginning of 2010 the Pentecostal churches in Cameroon have initiated billboard campaigns. One of the churches taking part in this scheme is the Cathedral of Faith, headed by a pastor who calls himself pastor Rev. Dr. Dieunedort Kamdem.
Signs posted by Pastor Kamdem read: « The nation of Cameroon is the property of Jesus Christ. There is no space for Satan », or « The 2011 elections are hidden in the blood of Jesus Christ and peace will reign in Cameroon in the name of the Lord. »
The poster also shows a picture of the pastor and two telephone numbers. By calling these numbers you reach either the pastor or one of his assistants who invites you visit by the church.
The goal of the billboard campaign is to make the curious come to the church. And, of course, to increase the number of faithful of the church led by Dieunedort Kamdem.
Pastor Kamdem does not wish to speak about the advertising campaign. However, it is said that the number of followers of his church increased from 60 to nearly 2000 within six months.
Miracles attract crowds
Whatever day of the week, the pastor’s preaches focus on improving the living conditions of the believers. The pastor promises deliverance from evil spirits, like the spirit of celibacy, the spirit of unemployment, illness and spirit of diabolical possessions that prevents women to conceive.
The sermon is followed by prayers. From all corners of the room, people cry, fall and rise.
On 28 January 2011, for example, we could follow the testimony of a woman who claimed to have been possessed by an evil spirit which prevented her from walking. She said she came to the church in a wheelchair and left walking on two legs. Everything is recorded and repeatedly broadcast on TV Kanode, a channel owned by Reverend Kamdem.
Buy a miracle
The pastor recommends anyone who has not witnessed a miracle to « strengthen faith ». That requires a course which you can follow in the church. Theology training is given every Saturday from eight in the morning to four in the afternoon. To register you have to pay five thousand CFA francs (eight euro) and for the training you pay 40,000 CFA francs (61 euro) per year.
Every two weeks the pastor teaches a practical course. Each exercise is written out in a handout with a price ranging fron 1,500 CFA francs (about two euro) to 2,500 CFA francs (around four euro) per copy. You are recommended to take part every year to make progress.
The pastor doesn’t want to hear about the business accusations. He says that his only concern is to save souls. « I am the example of Jesus Christ, who walked across the country to preach the gospel and increase the number of his followers. Unlike him, my church uses modern means of communication. »
But ironically the pastor drives around in one of the most expensive cars on the Cameroonian market while many of his parishioners are giving the little money they have to his church.