2015 October 13
Dear partners in ministry,
This has been a full summer for us, and it has been a long time since we shared the progress with our ministry. (By the way, since I know some of you are going to ask, Liliana is doing well. We are so thankful for a healthy baby!) But now, let's share a summary of the summer with you.
It was a very hot June day in Chad. The temperatures were well above 100 degrees F as we were crammed into the public bus on our way to Ndjamena as we began our journey toward America. Billows of dust swirled through the rusted out holes in the back near where we were seated and turned to mud as it stuck to our sweaty bodies. Melody was pregnant and doing OK, but we just hoped for a safe and uneventful trip.
Then we get a text message on our phone: "Explosions in Ndjamena. Suicide attack on police and intelligence" "Do we continue?" I wonder. I share the news with the guy next to me. I get online with my little phone, and within a few minutes the news stories start showing up. "Suicide Bombing in Chad." Soon everybody on the bus is talking. The driver stops at a military police office by the road and talks for probably 20 minutes. I decide that we will continue with the bus, and if the bus is not allowed into the capital, we will find a ride back to Bere somehow.
Arriving at the capital a number of hours later, we are stopped at multiple military checkpoints. Male passengers must exit the bus and show their ID. Those without ID are detained or pay a bribe to continue without ID. Nobody checks our luggage for bombs. The city is literally swarming with military police, pickups with RPGs, machine guns, and small cannons mounted to trucks. I'm not sure if we are to feel safer or less safe with all that security. The taxi takes us to the place where we sleep. The next morning, our taxi driver is not allowed near the airport. We hire a guy to carry our luggage maybe a kilometer to the airport. I think there are probably more soldiers than civilians here. But eventually, praise God, we step onto the airplane and begin to de-stress as the plane takes off and we leave the drama behind. The remainder of our trip was uneventful, but our thoughts are with those who are daily living in fear of attack from the extremists.
For a couple of weeks after we first arrived in the States, Gideon was excited to see so many new and exciting things. Some of the things he was most impressed with were "trucks, trucks!" on the highway, and "lights!" as he looked up at the ceiling. It was fun to see him explore a more civilized world and new foods and his other family members.
For months before our trip to America, we had been preparing to attend the Seventh-day Adventist General Conference Session, a worldwide conference held every five years. During the ten days of this event, held in Texas this year, we spent many long hours at the exhibit, but were able to meet hundreds of people and share the work of Desert Tree Ministry with them. Later, we traveled to another convention in Spokane, Washington. This convention only lasted just over three days, but was also a blessing to us.
As a result of attending these two conventions, we were able to make some excellent connections with people and other ministries. As God provides, we are ready to move forward in a larger way. Believing that God has a big work to accomplish in Chad and the surrounding countries, we have decided to make some big plans. I am glad that our God is a God of miracles, because it will take miracles to accomplish these plans! But then we know it is God working and not something we could have done. We give God the glory for whatever He has accomplished through us and what He will continue to accomplish through us as we return to Chad.
We are planning our next two-month laymen Bible training school to be held in February and March of 2016. Our plan is to train about twenty students. With this plan alone, we have enough work to keep us busy until the training program begins. I am working on finishing a Bible study book on the Gospel, which I hope to have translated into French and printed by the time the training program starts. We are also working on developing a few other courses and preparing them for printing and shipping to Chad.
One of our goals is to establish a small library in each church and with each pastor within the entire Union. I am working on developing a short training course on how to manage a library as an evangelistic tool. While we have already imported a lot of literature, it is just scratching the surface of the incredible need. Therefore, we are also working toward getting not one, but two containers full of literature! One container will likely be mostly tracts and Bible studies and the other one will be larger bound books such as The Great Controversy, Steps to Christ, and the Conflict of the Ages series.
Container of Great Controversies, Steps to Christ, and a small 10-volume library set. The estimated cost is about $80,000 (we have about $45,000 pledged specifically for this project already, leaving about $35,000 to complete our goal!)
We are also hoping to be able to put some basic printing equipment onto one of these containers including a generator, two printers, a commercial paper cutter, and a heavy-duty long-reach stapler for making booklets, but do not yet have the funding for all of this.
Because of the political situation in and around Chad, we do not know how much longer we will be able to continue the work there. If you are aware of current events world, you can't help but see that our world is in trouble. The last events foretold in prophecy are soon to unfold, and we may be living in the generation that finishes the work before Jesus returns! Please join us in praying that God will keep the country open as long as possible so more souls will be added to the kingdom. We feel an urgency like never before to flood the country with truth-filled literature as fast as possible. Please join us in praying that the funding for the next container of literature will come in soon! We are hoping to arrange the literature and printing equipment to be shipped to Chad before our planned return at the end of this year.
Please take some time and look at these two pages on our website and ask
God to guide you in how you should pray or help financially.
Thank you for your faithful prayers and support, and for taking time out of your day to read this update. Although we are still in the States, we are plenty busy. I do not know if we can even finish our goals for our ministry before heading back to Africa! For those of you who have committed to monthly donations, please rest assured that unless otherwise specified, those donations are being applied to Desert Tree Ministry work. God has been providing for our personal needs here in the States (food, fuel, etc) through various donors who continue to help us with these expenses.
May God bless you as you continue in ministry for Him!
In His service,
Jonathan, Melody, Gideon, and Liliana Dietrich