The Impact of Education and the Gospel

On my weekly walk to the village market, I was surprised to hear a child’s greeting ring out in clear French: “Bonjour, Monsieur!” This is the greeting that our students use at the Gethsemane school when their teacher walks into the room. But in this Bagirmi village, I had only been greeted in local languages. Yet here was a little child, excited to see one of her teachers in town, busting out her best French.

French is the official language of Chad, so being unable to speak French is like being unable to speak English in America. Plenty of people get by that way, but they are limited. For a child to have the confidence to speak French in public means that she is also learning to read and write. She can help her parents fill out an important document, write a report for a local agricultural cooperative, or read the instructions on medication.

It also means that she is hearing God’s Word. Our village will never be the same (name of village removed for online version). The children of this town are growing up with a wider worldview, an appreciation for hygiene, discipline, and a sensitivity to spiritual things. As our students grow older, we have the privilege of engaging with them on deeper levels, and helping them develop an idea of the sort of Chad they would like to live in. What about corruption? What about bribes? What about child marriage? What about the agricultural life and mass migration to urban centers? What about Jesus Christ?

Our oldest class is now in fourth grade, but many of the students are already teenagers. After their next year, fifth grade, they have no education options in our village. So we are prayerfully considering opening a middle school for grades 6-8, so we can continue to mentor these young people in their transition to adulthood.

Inspired by this school, our Chadian missionary partners would like to start their own school in a nearby town. The task is daunting as there are so few missionaries. But the benefits for our Chadian neighbors are eternal.

At the dedication of our new school buildings, a Muslim cleric stood up. He said “I enrolled my daughter in this school, but when I heard you were teaching stories from the Bible, I took her back out. Then after a while I heard how good the stories were, so I enrolled her again!”

Much of our plans will depend on the members of the American Church: Are you in? Should we move forward with expanding our education ministries in Chad? Are you ready to support two new schools?

Nathanael S. serves with his wife Carrie as missionaries in Chad.
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