At the shocking news of the passing of Mr. Tening Mongwa, I couldn’t help to reminisce about the many years of service alongside him. My feelings are mixed. I’m torn by the pain caused by the loss of a friend, elder and mentor for several decades. Meanwhile, the rich legacy of a life well-lived challenges me to maintain a purposeful life. In lieu of a coherent eulogy, let me briefly share a few snippets from my marvelous companionship with him. About ten years aer its creation, CABTAL was clearly struggling to find its way. Tening Mongwa was elected pioneer Board Chair of the organisation at a General Assembly held in 1998. Drawing from his rich experience from the higher administration at the presidency of Cameroon, he laid the foundation for good governance in CABTAL, instilled a culture of organisational excellence and stimulated CABTAL’s ability to start new translation programs, including in his own Pinyin language.
Mr Mongwa’s rigour, astuteness, integrity, and quest for justice and fairness rightly make him the “rebuilder” of CABTAL. When CABTAL began its church mobilisation strategy in the early 2000’s, Tening Mongwa stepped forth and challenged his own PCC Bastos congregation to champion the support to the ministry of Bible translation. In his passion, he was able to convince the Board of elders of the Church to include CABTAL in the congregation budget with 500 000 cfa per year. With this, the PCC Bastos became the first major supporting church of Bible translation in Cameroon. Today, if CABTAL is able to gather millions from the churches in Cameroon, it is thanks to the good foundation set by this faithful servant of God. At the launching of the Pinyin Bible translation project, I personally went to the Fon’s palace with Mr Tening Mongwa to introduce the concept of this endeavour. When the Fon heard about the idea, he went on to say, Akametsong, as this was his title in the chiefdom, “you have never brought anything bad to our community. Go with Dr Michel Kenmogne and make it possible for the Pinyin people to have God’s Word in their language”. Aer the launching of the Pinyin NT in Yaounde last year, Mr Mongwa could not help to call me to talk of his dream that had come true. He further invited me to be ready for us to go back to the Pinyin land to give an account of the mission that the Fon had given us. I had been looking forward to that day. Today, I’m deeply saddened that I will no longer do that with him! Mr Tening Mongwa le such a huge legacy. CABTAL will be indebted to him through all generations. I have personally worked alongside him over the years, seen his passion, heard his admonition to stick to the truth always, and received his encouragement to take up responsibilities I thought were far beyond my abilities. When I sent him new year wishes for 2021, he responded on January 3-in his usual mix of French and English- as follows: “Merci cher Ami Michel de rester toujours fidèle à la foi chrétienne et égal à toi-même. Happy new year 2021 and beyond with abiding peace inside and intermittent pains outside”. Little could I imagine that he looked beyond 2021 because I’d not talk to him again until we meet again in eternity. “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. Yes, says the Spirit, they will rest from their labour, for their deeds will follow them.” Rev.14:13