2014 April 14
Dear friends and family,
We praise God that we are safely back home in Bere after spending almost two weeks in Pala. We would like to give you a brief update on our experience there.
(Please note the changes to the information at the end of this email. The addresses for donations, website, and blog have all changed.)
Early Friday morning, we boarded the bus to Kelo. From there we changed vehicles and got an another mini-bus headed to Pala. We enjoyed the trip a lot because the scenery was different than we are used to. Instead of the usual flatness that surrounds Bere, we traveled across beautiful rolling hills. It almost felt like we were in a different country. Even the style of buildings and thatch roofs was different.
David and Sarah Macomber also joined us, and the pastor from Lere (west of Pala) came to Pala to install the new pastor and to open our training. We appreciated his help. Amazingly, he chose to preach almost exactly the same sermon that I had planned to close the Last Day Events seminar with a week later! God obviously planned that. The pastor gave a strong appeal to the people of Pala to wake up and attend the meetings.
The Pala church used to have around 120 members, but nearly all of them have left the church. Now that there has been a new pastor for some months, about 30 regularly attend. Our goal was to encourage revival and reformation in Pala. While this was the most challenging group we have taught, we believe that God was at work and that He answered our prayers for the Holy Spirit to work mightily there. We had about 30 people in regular attendance. About half of those were people from the community who were curious about what was being taught. Several regular attendees were young people in their low teens including one 13-year-old boy who eagerly attended nearly all the classes.
Jonathan taught classes on The Word of God, Last Day Events, and Personal Evangelism. Melody prepared and delivered a Bible story in French almost every day to the small crowd of children that gathered near the church. Amazingly, these children actually raised their hands and asked questions about spiritual things. We have never seen that before in other places. Gideon and the other children enjoyed interacting with each other.
David taught a class titled The Character of Jesus. We want the people to see Jesus and be attracted to Him. We pray that as they see Jesus' character that they will see a great contrast with theirs and that they (and we) will desire to become more like Jesus. David also taught a short course on the Sanctuary. Sarah taught a lively health class which included some cooking demonstrations.
At the end of the course, we were honored by a visit from our mission president Jacques Wangkel. His visit was encouraging to us. He was present for my last class where the students shared their personal plans for evangelism. The pastor also shared the church's plan for evangelism for 2014. President Wangkel closed the training with an inspiring message which I will summarize here: "We thank all the members of Jonathan's team who have come to Pala and spent 10 days with you. We all have the same command (the Great Commission). Why do we have life now? Because our work is not yet done. We need to wake up. I am happy to see that there will be a change here. The devil knows his time is short, and he is angry. The devil has tried three or five times to break up the work here. You need to put into practice what you have learned and stick with your plan of evangelism that you formed. With prayer, Pala can change!"
An 84-year-old chief, also an onion farmer, left his job at the market for a week to attend the seminars. It was encouraging to hear his testimony. "I discovered the Sabbath truth back in 1940, before the Adventist church was officially in Chad, and I was baptized in 1945. Since then people say this, they say that, or 'It's like this' and there are lots of ideas spread around. But in this training, I see clearly that there is an unchanging line of truth. I see clearly that many will deviate from this line, but I am determined to remain in the line of truth. I am 84 years old, and near my end, but I am determined to die faithful to Jesus."
A lady gave her testimony: "Most of us women are not well educated. We can't read, but thank God that we know these things now." And then turning to her friends she appealed, "Women, let's follow what we have learned."
Another woman spoke: "During this time of training, I remark that some our brothers who have been long lost have come back to the church. Please do not go back to the world. Some of our sisters are here for the first time in a long time because I talked with them and they said they would come. Thank you for coming."
Another man said: "Before you came, I was thinking about our church in Chad. I wondered if it was possible to create a new church. Thank God that you came. First, the Character of Jesus class helped me. Jesus is humble, and I want to be like Him. Second, we learned about the line of the truth and the predicted worldwide union of churches in the last days. Let's stay in the line of truth."
Friends, the harvest is great. People are hungry for truth. We are grateful for all the help we had during this last training, but we need more help. We need more teachers. We need somebody to help with audio production and literature. Nearly everywhere we go people ask us for literature, and I have to tell them "I'm sorry. I'll try to work on that soon." Numerous signs around us indicate that Jesus is truly coming soon. Prophecies are being fulfilled right before our eyes, even in 2014! We know that "The work which the church has failed to do in a time of peace and prosperity, she will have to do in a terrible crisis, under most discouraging, forbidding, circumstances." Now is the time to be busy with the Lord's work. If you haven't already, please commit your life to God and to His service.
We thank God for His continual protection and care for us. Gideon is still doing well. Please pray that God will send more laborers. Please continue to pray for all the students that have been through our short trainings and that we will be able to identify the more serious ones to further train.
In His service,
Jonathan and Melody and Gideon Dietrich