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Moments with missionaries: Keegan Dowling

Last summer, Missionary Dan Kroll and I went to the port city of Douala, Cameroon’s biggest city. Where we stayed was right next to where the huge freighter ships docked. There was plenty of fresh fish to eat—even huge, spicy prawns! We bought so much fish on the street that the sellers got to know us . . . rival sellers would tussle over us, trying to physically direct us toward their stalls.

But the real reason Missionary Kroll and I were there was not to eat fish but to catch fish. More specifically, we were there to help train some local fishermen: a group of leaders from Holy Trinity Lutheran Synod, whose calling from Jesus—like each of us Christians—was to fish for people.

Holy Trinity is not yet in church fellowship with WELS. The group is just beginning its journey of exploring the road to church fellowship. This starts with an emphasis on doctrine—specifically, a comprehensive overview of doctrine like you would find in a Bible information course at a church in North America.

One of the unique features of this trip was that we got to work with a group of church leaders not only in English but also in French. I’ve known French since I was a teenager and would read Le Monde newspaper, listen to Radio France Internationale, and collect French films in college. I am thankful that back in 2013, when I graduated from Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, I was assigned to serve as a pastor for nine years in Orléans, Ontario, which is on the eastern side of Ottawa, the capital city of Canada. Ottawa is the largest bilingual city in the country. While I was there, I soaked up a lot of detailed French vocabulary, which is coming in handy serving in Africa, where 167 million people speak French.

Keegan Dowling and Dan Kroll
Keegan Dowling (left) and Dan Kroll in Douala. Bottom: Keegan Dowling with leaders from Holy Trinity Lutheran Synod.

When Missionary Kroll and I were out and about in Douala, we both got a lot of exposure to hearing French, the language of the city. WELS Multi-Language Productions gave us permission to create my favorite Bible information course—Basic Bible Christianity by Pastor Jon Buchholz—in French and use it in our training workshops. We spent time with our new friends in Cameroon focusing on aspects of doctrine such as Communion, Baptism, law and gospel, the history of the Bible, and confession.

It is still a new and fresh experience for us to use French in our ministry. It was also a new and fresh experience for our friends from Holy Trinity to explore biblical doctrine systematically with a Bible information course presented both in French and in English. We plan to meet with these same men at all our upcoming workshops so that we can forge personal relationships and grow deeper in our studies and our planning together.

Missionary Kroll and I pray that we grow stronger in our use of French with each visit we make to Cameroon and that the leaders from Holy Trinity will also grow stronger in their understanding and use of God’s Word—which sounds sweet in any language.

Keegan Dowling is a world missionary on the One Africa Team. He lives in Lusaka, Zambia.

Learn more> about WELS world mission work at wels.net/missions. Subscribe to read blogs by WELS missionaries at wels.net/subscribe.

Author: FIC
Volume 111, Number 02
Issue: February 2024

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