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News Update from Mark and Diane Vanderkooi

January 2018

Dear family, friends, and supporters;

We are doing well in our life and ministry. The school of pastoral discipleship is exceeding our expectations, Mark has been able to do some translation work again, and we are staying healthy. The most significant recent event in our lives has been the death of our chief Luba, aged about 80, and chief for 49 years.  Here is the story of another milestone in our ministry.

Your fellow servants,   Mark and Diane

PS:  If you have not looked at our recent video about our last three years of ministry here in Chad, please do so. We are pretty sure you will find it informative and enjoyable. It is only 8 minutes long: https://vimeo.com/239990537


Luba Kalgo Albert 1938 - 2018

When Luba became chief in 1969, we were both in 1st grade, America was still in the quagmire of Vietnam, and the spacious villas and avenues the French had constructed in the cities of Chad during her colonization were by all accounts still a beautiful sight. Chageen for its part was the backwater of the backwaters, and thousands of gazelle, giraffes, elephants and lions roamed the vast plains on either side of the village. There were a couple Christians and an on-again off-again church which met under a tamarind tree on the outskirts of the village. It is doubtful that the installation of Luba as chief following the death of his father Kaglo attracted much attention, if any.

Chief Luba was always a good chap, even if not a particularly good administrator. In a part of the world  where chiefs have a reputation for being infatuated with their own importance, it was always gratifying, if a little incongruous, to go to Luba’s compound, and in answer to a query as to his whereabouts, hear that he was off collecting fodder for his oxen, or weaving a rope, or making a new sleeping mat under the niim tree. His main shortcoming was his intimate acquaintance with a hard life which imbued him with a great deal of compassion for others – a virtue which did him disservice when he was called upon to dispense justice. When a criminal pleaded poverty as an excuse for making restitution or paying a fine, Luba’s compassion would frequently get the best of him – and the orderly administration of his canton suffered as a result.  But beyond that, one would be hard pressed to find fault with the man.

Luba was not a pushover though. So far as we can tell, he was the last and only chief for something like 60 miles around who has not capitulated to the very considerable economic and political inducements to convert to Islam. The chief of a neighboring canton who did capitulate later told the story to one of our colleagues saying “it was pointless to resist.” That Luba did resist is testimony to his stubbornness (he never, so far as we know, became a Christian either), the influence of the many people in his near family who are Christians, not least of whom is Old Moses, and very possibly the fact that his canton was able to become “something” quite without the Muslims by virtue of missionary involvement in Chageen since the early 80’s.   

Now Luba has been laid to rest. If his installation back in 1969 was a pretty low-key affair, that of his son Sabal was anything but. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and window on the social and political life of Chad. Virtually every high government official from the region was present for the occasion and had to be housed and fed. Our Bible school classrooms became the “Hilton” for the governor, prefect, sub-prefect and their entourage, and we ourselves hosted a former president of the Chadian Supreme Court and his wife in our home. Untold chickens and goats and sheep were slaughtered for the guests, and fantastic displays of horsemanship, mock battles, and traditional dance spectacles were put on for the occasion. Our pictures hardly do it justice.

Sabal is everything his father was not. He is highly educated – a lawyer who went on to become legal counsel to the prime minister for a while, and now a federal appellate judge.  It seems that he will continue in his judicial role for some time and govern Chageen through an intermediary. Notwithstanding his education and advancement in the Chadian judiciary, he is quite a down-to-earth fellow. We have known him for a long time and he is about our own age. Our prayer - and you may join us in this - is that like his father, his policies and conduct would be agreeable to the furtherance of the dominion of Jesus Christ over the Kwong people.




Luba at the dedication of our radio station 12 years ago


Luba with his catch at the annual Kwong fishing derby – sometime in the 90’s


Sabal at his installation, which immediately preceded the  burial of his father.

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Last modified: January 23, 2018