Pastor Ron Nelson’s Return to Africa

Pastor Ronald Nelson, resident missionary, recently spent another four months in Africa, a place he calls his second home.

Posted March 28, 2014


Record Editor


Pictured is Nelson with several of the kids in Gomana, a Fulani Christian Village in Africa.
Pictured is Nelson with several of the kids in Gomana, a Fulani Christian Village in Africa.

Pastor Ronald Nelson, resident missionary, recently spent another four months in Africa, a place he calls his second home.

Nelson has been to Africa many times since his first trip in 1960. This time, he was invited back for three very different reasons.

In an interview from 2012 with the Adams County Record, Nelson talked about all the work he’d done with a radio station there known as Radio Sawtu Linjiila, which he helped start in 1966. Now, the station has an all-African staff consisting of 16 members. The station broadcasts out of four countries, including Germany, and reaches about 30 countries, reaching almost all of Africa. The station airs in more than eight languages.

“The station had devotion ever morning at 7:30 a.m. I went every morning while I was there,” Nelson said.

The second invitation came from a professor in North Cameroon.

Nelson was asked to teach the culture and language of the Fulani people. In Cameroon, the primary language is French, which Nelson is familiar with after having lived in France for a year to study the language.

The plan was to teach culture from a book Nelson had written. To teach the Fulani language, he would use a book written in English. He would have to translate the English to French so the French-speaking natives would understand.

In the end, Nelson did not go to Cameroon.

He had to give up teaching at the University because of the Muslim organization Boko Haram., which forbids public school and, instead, insists they should go to a Quranic School because they believe Islam is the only religion.

“If you believe in anything else, it’s against Allah,” he said.

Nigeria borders Cameroon and the university is close to the border, making it more dangerous. There were kidnappings and murders occurring often. There was even a French Catholic Priest among the kidnapped. If a ransom was not paid, the hostages were murdered, Nelson explained.

Nelson’s friends, along with the American Embassy, advised him against going due to the extremely dangerous situation.

He passed up the opportunity for now.

The final invitation he received was to help teach in Gomana, a Fulani Christian Village. About 96 percent of the Fulani population is Muslim, so it is very dangerous to try and teach Christianity. Those who wanted to learn about Jesus and the Bible had to break away. They formed a village of their own to learn and protect each other.

One of the challenges the Fulani Christian Village was facing was the fall of their chapel. The round, mud brick building had soiled and come down. The community didn’t have much money, but took to their gardens as a source of income. They sold lettuce, carrots and other produce in order to save the money needed to build a new meetinghouse. They gathered enough money to make cement blocks to rebuild their chapel. However, they didn’t have enough for a roof. The new chapel walls stood for over a year.

“I used quite a bit of my own money and some friends had also donated to help build the roof,” Nelson said.

The Christian movement started in Nigeria and moved to Cameroon followed by Central African Republic and finally Chad. Because of their strong Muslim background, very few Africans can read Roman script. There is a big need to translate from Arabic script to Roman script.

“Thankfully there is a missionary who is seeing to that and it should be done next year,” he said.

Nelson has also translated some scripture and said it has gone over well.

Since the Fulani people don’t have access to the bible, they do not fully understand baptism or communion. The translation is important in helping them understand why these things are practiced.

Another thing the Fulani Christian Village has trouble understanding is how the Father and Jesus are one God.

“I told them God is way beyond our understanding and so if God tells us he is the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, then okay,” Nelson explained.

Nelson compares this lesson to water. Water can be found in three forms: liquid that you drink, solid like ice, and gas as in steam. God is all three in one.