2016 May 31
Dear friends and family,
Greetings from Ndjamena! We have just finished an intensive two-week training here, and we would like to bring you a brief report. As we traveled north from Bere, we stopped in the village of Ere to pick up Richard the Bible worker and his two friends. Richard was the only Adventist in the village, and he is starting an effort to plant a new church there.
This training was a unique challenge for us. While we normally work with smaller groups of less educated people in the bush, our group in Ndjamena was larger and many of the students spoke good French. Also, many of them have been Adventists for many years, but have lost their first love and have become polluted with church politics. I speak simple French and do not like politics, but God was gracious and we saw many changed lives over the course of the two weeks.
One of the purposes of this training was to interest people in working together for the evangelistic campaign scheduled for later this year. Please pray that many of our students will experience revival and start small groups and that the harvest will be great.
Below are some testimonies from some of the students during our last meeting Sabbath afternoon. I'll do my best to remember what they said.
"My name is Richard, and I was baptized years ago in NDJ, but when I moved back to the village, there was no church. We tried for a while to have a joint church service with catholics and protestants and others, but the village people burned our church. So we were discouraged. I was frustrated because I tried this and that to find money, but each time I thought I found a good way to get money, I lost the money through sickness or some other problem. Over time, God kept working on my heart. The Mission president talked with me and encouraged me to try to study the Bible with some people in my village. When Jonathan and the president visited our village a few weeks ago, Jonathan helped us to build a small church where about 17 of us are now meeting each week. When I invited my friend to come to the Bible training, he agreed to come to the training. But as he has been learning truth during the training, he had decided to be baptized! Now we are two. Before this training, I didn't really know how to lead somebody to Jesus or how to do evangelism. But during this training, I have learned some clear principles and I am going to apply them immediately in my work. I am now an evangelist!"
"My name is Dokkwada, and I live in Ere and came to this seminar at the invitation of my friend Richard. I have lived a life of sin and used to be a heavy alcoholic. But Jesus has been working on my heart. Even though I have never decided to be a Christian, I have now decided to give my life to Jesus and to abandon my life of sin. You can see how happy I am today. I was baptized today. And now I am in the last phase of the cycle of evangelism, preservation. Please continue to pray for me and to encourage me. And as I return to my village with Richard, I am going to continue the cycle of evangelism by working with the Holy Spirit to prepare the hearts of people to receive the Gospel and by planting seeds of truth so that others may understand the message that I have learned."
A lady in the church: "Just a few weeks ago I was thinking about how much I hated religion. I was discouraged in my spiritual walk and was considering giving up on God altogether. A friend invited me to come to the meetings, and I didn't want to come at first. But then I came and found it very engaging. Partway through the second week of the meetings, I realized that my hate of religion was gone! The Holy Spirit has revived me, and I am very thankful for this seminar."
Another lady in the church: "When Jonathan suggested that each person start morning and evening worship, I didn't know what to do. It is difficult when the family (siblings, uncles, aunts, parents, etc) all live together in one compound and represent several different denominations. When I suggested having evening worship the first time, everybody said they were busy and I had discouraging thoughts. But I said, "OK then, tomorrow at 5am, I will have a short worship thought. Anybody who wants to can come to join me." And several people did! I taught them what we learned in the training about Psalm 1, how the righteous man finds pleasure in God's Word and meditates on it day and night. Then, I believe that the Holy Spirit inspired me to invite my brother who is the church elder in another denomination to lead out the next morning. By inviting different people to share encourages them to study their Bibles and lowers prejudice in our family. I never would have believed it would be possible to come together like this, but God is working. This Sabbath morning, I woke up to bathe a little before 5am. When I returned, I found everybody sitting in their chairs waiting for me to show up and share the morning worship thought with them. What a blessing this new activity has been in our family!"
A member said: "Before coming to this seminar, I honestly did not understand about the Sabbath. I would come to church most weeks, but I didn't understand the meaning or importance of the day. Now, I see clearly that the Bible teaching is really clear about the Sabbath. I have been transgressing the Sabbath, as have many of our church members. One recent Sabbath, I was returning from a visit after the church service and the elder, who was driving the moto, stopped to buy some mangoes. "Why do you buy food on the Sabbath?" I asked. He said, "I'm obliged to because I'm hungry." Not wanting to judge him, I ate one of the mangoes with him. Often, on our way home from church we buy fuel for our motobikes, and several of us church members and elders are there at the same place buying fuel together. This is not right, and we have been profaning a day that is holy and sacred. From here on, I want to do better and keep God's Sabbath holy. We learned about the meaning of Friday, the Preparation Day. Preparation is not a concept well-practiced in our culture. But we need to overcome this cultural weakness and learn to keep God's Sabbath holy."
Please pray for revival and reformation in Ndjamena, and that the members will be motivated to be active in preparing for the upcoming meetings later this year.
In His service,
Jonathan, Melody, Gideon and Liliana Dietrich