This blog is sharing Nate Bantle's and my trip to Chad, Africa. This is an account of our fifth day on the trip, Sunday, October 27. A great day!
A couple of days ago I was asked to speak at the one and only church in Goz Beida. Remember, the villages nearby are 100% Muslim, but after the Darfur crisis – the UN and many NGOs (non-government organizations) came in to help. And who loves to help the needy? Believers. Many from southern Chad (the Christian part of the nation) moved here to help too. So a church was formed. It is about 450 people. About 200 adults and 250 children. I thought this was just a "day between" our village visits. It turned into an amazing day! Because I have so much to share about this day – I will split into two posts. I don't want to bore you.
Here are some photos and explanation:
I did something I've never done on a Sunday before preaching… I went for a hike! Andre is on the left. He works for a local NGO and came here from the southern part of Chad. Of course, you know Nate. Then the guy on the right is Mark Lamb – who works for World Concern.
It was quite a strenuous hike up the mountain. We had to blaze our own trail, but found a trail once at the top. It was hot for 6:00 AM, but I've been in Rochester long enough that I'm sure I'm a heat-wimp.
This is the nicest restaurant in town – we were told. This is where we have breakfast and dinner daily. It is inside a UN compound. Interesting food.
This is the inside of that "fancy" restaurant. 🙂 Well, this is a porch. In the morning we eat here. At dinner, we eat in a similar section that has air conditioning.
Can you see the writing on the chalkboard? In French (the language in cities and towns) – it says I am speaking and gives the passage. By the way – in the villages – it is all Arabic speaking.
The church was totally full. It is benches only. This is the overflow seating. They start the service at 8:00 AM because it just gets WAY too hot early in the day. They usher everyone in – like a wedding. We didn't arrive before it filled up – so for the first hour – we sat outside in the overflow. The service was 2.5 hours! Most of the attenders are Christians who have moved here to help those from the crisis. Some are former Muslims from Goz Beida who have trusted Christ!!!
It was so cool to sit in their service!! They said 200, but it looked like more to me.
Nate is a great photographer. This is one of his photos I loved.
The view from the back. Notice the men are on the left and women on the right. Except the back bench… they needed some women on the men's side. More men than women! That is likely because more men move here without their wives to help. They leave their wife and children at home and go home (to southern Chad) every couple of months to visit.
Preaching through a translator is hard, but Emmanuel is VERY good! He is with World Concern and did all the translating for me this week – with the village chief and others. He moved here from the southern part of Chad. He is an elder in the church and speaks about 12 or 13 languages!
Each week – one of the "communities" (not sure what that means yet) sings a couple of songs. It was great!
The offering is a bit crazy. They go up one at a time and give… in front of everyone. Kind of like the New Testament. Whoa…
Here are some of the women giving. It is during the music. Why can some dancy so naturally and I have two left feet – at best? All seemed to have fun going to the front to give and file back to their seat.
A couple of guys tried their English on me. They did pretty well. Much better than my French. Again, Chad's official languages are French and Arabic. If you grew up in the south (where most of these who come to the church did) – it will be French. The Muslims in Goz Beida and in the Muslim part of Chad are either French and Arabic or just Arabic. The villages are only Arabic-speaking.
The men go out the side door to shake hands with the speaker. The women exit out the back door. I wanted to ask about that, but I know they would just say it is proper culturally.
Here is a cool thing they do. Once they greet me and the translator – they get in line. Which means, by the time everyone leaves – every man has shaken the hand of every other man in the church. That was so cool!
This is one of the elders. He also teaches in the school (more on that later). The elders call him dad. He is the oldest of the group. A term of affection, I'm sure.
The elders asked us to meet with them. They meet every Sunday to evaluate. They also meet every Friday from 4:00 – 6:00 PM. And they pray all night the last Friday of the month!
I quickly began to appreciate these men, their dedication to this church – as they are all busy working with various NGOs (non-government organizations), and one is the police commissioner.
As I mentioned, I thought this day was just a "rest day" between village trips, but it was SO much more. I will share the rest tomorrow.