Dear friends and family,
It is time for another little update from Chad!
Mission Year End Meetings
I attended Mission Year End Meetings in Ndjamena from January 9-11. Melody's brother-in-law Keith Mosier, arrived in Ndjamena on January 9 for a week's visit, so he was able to meet with the leadership of the Chad Mission. We are so blessed to have leadership who desire to collaborate together.
A trip to the Chad capital of Ndjamena sounds easy - it is only about 250 miles from Bere - but the last trip took 12 hours over very bumpy roads full of pot-holes. The word "pot-hole" isn't really accurate, as in many places the holes stretch from shoulder to shoulder. We had to change a tire that was destroyed from a hole in the road. We also had to stop to sump water out of the diesel. Diesel fuel is often polluted with water and many other impurities, which causes troubles. And there are no 'rest stops' as you are used to in America, and certainly no Taco Bells or Cracker Barrels!
The Union President and Mission President were with us on our return trip to Bere to conduct a pastoral convention. We appreciate the various donors who enabled us to finance this convention and to cover the transportation costs of the pastors. This was the first time in at least 10 years that Chad has conducted a pastoral convention! About 15 pastors and 4 Gospel Outreach pioneers attended, most of them with their wives. I taught a class on baptism and a class on how to use the My Bible First material (children's Bible study lessons). Keith Mosier (who plans to join us with his family) shared his personal testimony from his work in Congo. Mission President Benjamin's wife conducted some trainings for the pastor's wives. The church administrators had the opportunity to address various issues and challenges facing pastors in Chad, and the pastors had an opportunity to discuss and resolve long-standing issues. We were able to print 100 copies of the Ten Days of Prayer program which we gave to the pastors to encourage them to encourage their members to participate. The convention closed with a communion service. We sensed the presence of the Holy Spirit, and were pleased to be able to host this convention. (See attached picture.)
It gets "cold" here, down into the 60s at night in January. So people need blankets. Many people apparently do not own a blanket. Their home is a small mud-brick room with likely no windows, or a very small window. When several people sleep in the room, it heats up a bit. For our trainings, there is one big room with plenty of ventilation. Thus, it is cold. A donor contributed 20 blankets which greatly helped.
We have received enough donations specifically for bicycles for lay members active in evangelism that we were able to distribute 21 bicycles during the past two years! A bicycle makes a big difference to somebody who normally walks many kilometers by foot. Thank you to those who donated to the Bicycle Project!
One evening, upon returning home after dark, I saw what I presumed to be a cobra just outside our gate. I had no weapons with me except the jack turner bars in the Land Cruiser. I slammed the brakes and got the shorter bar and my flashlight and threw the bar at the snake. God guided the bar as it hurtled through the air to pierce the middle of the snake and it poked out the other side and pinned him down. This weighed the snake down enough for me to get the longer bar out of the vehicle and crush the head. I think it was a miracle how the bar pierced the snake so precisely the first time. (See attached picture.)
Recently we organized an all-day training at church for the members in our district. The training was on the work and responsibilities of each department in the church. Please pray for us as we plan for numerous other trainings in our district this year.
God blessed us with the delivery of over 15,000 books titled "The Great Hope" (in French). Our last order of 20,000 books which came in 2016 is nearly all distributed; we have probably about 1,000 remaining. Please pray for these books as they are distributed.
We were able to purchase a small plot of land for the church in Lai for about $2,000. About $1,000 more has already been invested into a foundation. (See attached picture.) The estimated funds needed to complete this basic structure (not counting windows, doors, or benches) is about $5,000. This site is one of many church families who need buildings. If you would like to help with this project, mark your donation "church building fund."
The temperatures have been regularly climbing to near 110F every day for the past few weeks. You can pray for strength and stamina for my family during this difficult hot season!
Printing and translating and editing activities continue. Find out more in our next update!
In His service,
Jonathan, Melody, Gideon and Liliana Dietrich