Chad Part 1: Into the Dark Heart
It's 2 'o clock in the morning. We have long ago left the dry wind of the Sahara desert and are speeding through the dark of night. My GPS confirms the fact that we are in dangerous territory.
The nearly full moon lights up the Cameroon jungle far away. The route is well known for Boko Haram fighters attacking buses and might be the contributing factor to why the bus driver is speeding. No one else is on the road, so no one is actually bothered. After our 7th stop, it is clear that the soldiers guarding the borders so close to their beloved Motherland treat us differently as they enter the bus. It is not difficult to spot us in the bus - we are the only passengers not in full Arabic attire. The same meticulous procedure follows: we are asked to produce our passports and then our country contact would get up boldly and produce a letter with a government seal. We are suddenly saluted and the bus is sent on the way.
Obidabet is a tall young man that proudly presented himself as our interpreter - he speaks French and English fluently. He sits next to me and I lean over and ask: "Obi .... why are we treated so well?" Without hesitation he tells me the amazing story of Chad:
Chad remains plagued by political violence and recurrent attempted coups d'état. Chad is one of the poorest and most corrupt countries in the world; most inhabitants live in poverty as subsistence herders and farmers. In many people's vocabulary Chad is known as the country with a dark heart. It is when you meet the people, the children and share the stories that you truly realize GOD IS HERE TOO!
Obi, as I call him, continues with a smile. He tells me the story of a Christian in this predominant Muslim country that had a dream one night. God warned him that the president of the country would be ambushed and killed. He somehow succeeded in warning the president. After an attack where the president survived, the same Christian was called to the president's office. A decree was called whereby every Christian who was on a mission from God in Chad would travel freely without being disturbed.
I have seen that favor with my own eyes, as we passed roadblock after roadblock. The Presidential seal took us safely to the south of the country where we trained unashamed church planters. They came from every corner of the south in difficult and dangerous circumstances. Through training and evangelism, more than 147 churches were planted in Chad through the Harvesters Church Planting Model. I found Pastor Francois, who for the last year had traveled more than 1 400 km's per trip on a 125 cc motorbike to assure that churches are planted and trained... and loved!! The bright light of the Gospel is found deep in Chad, as a lady grabbed the vision to plant churches and started very successful churches in the main city of N'djamena. From everywhere we find courageous pastors, who in the midst of danger have planted successful churches.
As we drive into yet another village littered with mosques, I wanted to see how the newly planted churches were influencing the communities. I didn't have to look far.
The smiling principle of the school greeted me with a huge smile. "Look", he said. Hundreds of children peeped through the windows - laughing as they saw their first very 'pale' visitors. It was a Christian school and started due to a newly planted church which now grew to more than 139 members.
And then suddenly, I wept. It was like God spoke to me in the desert sand and said: "These are my people too. I have touched dark hearts to my glory and my blessing will be upon My people in Chad too. Take care of My sheep."
And that is exactly what we intended to do. Harvesters committed themselves to train and teach and equip the church of Chad for the next 3 years until they can run with their own church planting program. The bright light of Christ is shining bright indeed in this troubled country.