News Update Dec 2013

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December 24, 2013

Dear family, friends and supporters;

Christmas 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.

As 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. 

Your fellow servants in Chad,

Mark and Diane

Quality control

We are 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       

Each 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.


The 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." 


It 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!



Checking 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.


Our annual field conference is the only time during the year when we are together with all our colleagues.


At our annual field conference, we were honored for 25 years of service with Team.


Capitain in his last days, tended by his wife Claris (left) and his two sisters.


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