Sacrifice for the Gospel

Meet T (name removed online for privacy). She is the wife of A and mother of ten beautiful, hard-working children. T and A are our Chadian missionary partners in our village (See above photo). They have been called by the Lutheran Brethren Church in Chad. T is extremely personable. Her ministry is all about relating to the people around her, including her Bagirmi, Arab, and Fulani neighbors. Once I went with her to visit a woman, in the refugee camp near us, whose baby had just died. I listened as she expressed her condolences and talked with the young woman and her friends and family. One of the women nearby explained that the young mother was suffering greatly because the baby had been solely breastfed and now the mother’s breasts were terribly swollen with milk.  They asked T what to do. Later that day we returned to visit the mother with an herbal poultice of leaves that T had pounded into paste. She showed the woman how to apply the paste to ease her discomfort.

T is able to help women such as this one because of her ability to speak numerous languages. She also has basic midwifery training and has assisted over a dozen women in our village in childbirth. In addition, she cheerfully serves our little French-speaking church body. In order to do all of this, she had to move away from her home—the town she grew up in, where many of her family members still live, and the place of years of ministry by her and her pastor-husband. It is also the town where her school-age kids continue to live nine months out of the year, away from her, in order to attend school. T left her hometown and came to minister to a people who do not highly regard her tribe. She has suffered ridicule, but she has been generous and gracious and so has gained the trust of many people in our village over the past five years.
Then there is Nancy (Pictured: Nancy, her children, and her husband Daniel - last names removed for their privacy). She is a wife of Daniel and mother of three bright, active kids. Nancy and her family are the first Taiwanese Lutheran Brethren missionaries called to Chad, where they have lived for over a year now. Last month Nancy watched online from a great distance as her sister, her only sibling and childhood friend, got married in Taiwan (on the same day that Nancy and Daniel had been married eleven years earlier).

Having arrived in Chad in 2021, Nancy was unable to return to Taiwan for the wedding. Instead, she was in the midst of cultural adjustments and full-time Arabic study. Her language helper, H (name removed online for their privacy) saw how Nancy desired to be there for her sister, and said, “Why don’t you just go?” Nancy tried to lighten the mood and said, “You are my sister. I will go to your wedding.” Maybe H saw a glimpse of the sacrifice her friend has made, for the sake of the gospel, to share God’s Word, even with her (Nancy and H have started reading Genesis together in Arabic). Surely Nancy cried to miss her sister’s wedding. And two weeks later she cried again at the Welcome Center in Ndjamena as she streamed her grandma’s funeral, as it took place in Taiwan.

Both of these women are my friends. Perhaps I should introduce myself. I could say, I am Carrie, the wife of Nathanael and mother of six. It is just too simplistic. Just as I can’t really express the emotion of what T has endured or the loneliness Nancy has felt, so I can’t put into words these last ten years since joining LBIM. Recently returning to Chad from our second home assignment, we descended into the capital for the first time during daylight hours.  I saw a dry, sandy ground that I have begun to know up close; I could only think of how thirsty it was for the coming rains. For the next couple of weeks as I adjusted to living in Chad again, memories flooded over me. Happy memories and memories of parched times. There have been moments here of suffering and loneliness, sickness, and loss. There has been a cost.

I know it is worth being here. I am confident of that. We have been called to this work and this place, and we have been blessed immensely. In church last week we read from Colossians 1, and I wanted to be able to say with Paul, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake,” for you, church; for you who have heard and confessed; for you Fulani believer and Bagirmi seeker; for you Bilala woman who sought us out at night; for you, parched lands in need of the Living Water. And, I can rejoice! There has been new life given here: baptism, confession, the Word of God shared openly in a Muslim town, grace poured out on my own family in our need. It is possible to feel the cost of being in a foreign place in order to proclaim Christ, crucified and risen, and yet rejoice, is it not?

Carrie serves the Church of the Lutheran Brethren with her husband Nathanael as missionaries in Chad, Africa.

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