family, friends and supporters;
is just hours away and the elders of the church here in Chageen are
cleaning up the church yard for the customary all-night vigil. Tomorrow
we will join them to celebrate the coming of Christ into the world and
then have a communal meal. We wish all of you a very satisfying,
restful, and yes, Christ-centered Christmas celebration wherever this
missive may find you.
another year draws to a close, it is fitting that we should send you a
summary of recent events in our life here in Chad. It is also a
fitting occasion to thank each of you for another year of dear
friendships, fervent prayers, and faithful financial support.
fellow servants in Chad,
always glad when we are at 30,000 feet in a Boeing or Airbus that maybe
half the price of the aircraft is derived from the quality control the
manufacturer puts into making sure each of the 10's of thousands of
parts which make it fly are just right. Our lives depend on it. It is
not too much of a stretch to say the same about the translation work we
do. This will probably be the last translation of the Kwong Bible for 50
years or more, and the lives and faith of several generations of Kwong
depend on it being done just right. It should come as no surprise then,
that we invest considerable time and money in the quality control of our
work. To do this, we arrange for an experienced translation consultant
with Wycliffe to check each word of each verse. During two weeks of
November we checked 1st and 2nd Thessalonians and
the first half of John, and in February we will check the second half of
John. The consultant gives of her time for free, but housing, salaries,
and food for the Kwong men, plus housing for us, and transportation for
everyone can run the price up to more than $2000 for one of the longer
books. We regard it as money well-spent.
Part of something bigger
year in late November all 25 or so missionaries with Team in Chad get
together for a week of encouragement, and to transact the official
business of our field. We wish you could have been there to hear our
colleagues tell their stories! Some work in the far east of the country
among Muslims, some with the war-like tribes in the middle of the Sahara
desert, some with vulnerable women in the capital, and some, like
ourselves, with non-Muslim people in the south of the country. All of us
are pulling together to see the kingdom of God manifest in this country.
You will pardon us if we tend to write mostly about the Kwong, but we
really are part of something bigger. We consider ourselves honored to
belong to such a high-caliber team.
engine of our Land Cruiser was still hot following the 7 hour drive back
to Chageen from the annual conference when we heard the news: our good
friend Capitain was dying. Sure enough, you didnít need an MRI to
detect the cancer on his liver. It was pushing out against the wall of
his abdomen and anyone could feel it. As it turned out, it would be two
more weeks before the cancer finished its insidious work, choking off
his esophagus and making nourishment impossible. He died four days ago
in great pain, all our efforts to procure the medicines which might have
made his final weeks more bearable availing nothing. Yet it was precious
to see how even in his final days, his thoughts were on his family. His
concern, expressed to Diane, was that his children hold firm to their
faith. His last, gasping, but oh-so-fitting words to us after we
finished praying with his otherwise unresponsive form the day before he
died were "AmenÖ Amen."
grieved us to watch Capitain die. And only 4 months ago, it broke our
hearts to watch his adorable little daughter Koyom die from typhoid,
and to watch Massana, who we also wrote about, die from neglect.
More and more, we find ourselves vicariously bearing the sufferings of
the people around us, and frequently, all we can do is look on
helplessly. As the years go by, it just gets harder Ė not easier.
Maybe as we get older ourselves, we are more willing to let ourselves be
drawn into the mortality of those around us. We donít enjoy it at all.
But in another sense, there is an immediacy and poignancy of life here
which canít compare to the sterility which surrounds sickness and
death in the USA. As painful as this immediacy is, we find it calling
forth something deeper and richer from our souls, and it joins us to the
Kwong in a way that little else can. We only wish there was more we
could do. Meanwhile, we long all the more for the day when this age of
suffering will finally end. Come Lord Jesus!
1 Thessalonians, which Diane translated with Joseph and Francois
(foreground). Joseph and Francois read the text in Kwong and Laurent and
Leon (background) translate it into French so Jackie Hainaut
(background) can check the content.
annual field conference is the only time during the year when we are
together with all our colleagues.
our annual field conference, we were honored for 25 years of service
in his last days, tended by his wife Claris (left) and his two sisters.