Rebecca and I were privileged today to witness a new birth of sorts. Those of you who have been with us from the beginning can be fairly certain this is not speaking of traditional obstetrics as you know that that sort of thing is forbidden in our center. We DO NOT do OB here. Just wanted to make that clear, there is a perfectly good obstetrician at the central Hospital just a kilometer away.
No, it wasn’t a new baby human, we got to witness the birth of a new Seventh-day Adventist Church. About 15 kilometers southeast of Moundou is the village of Koutou-bete. Koutou-bete is one of our Pastor’s four churches and has a very active young peoples group, AYA in English, and J-A in French (Jeunesse Adventiste). They also have a pathfinder group with uniforms, although they need the patches, so if anyone wants to donate some either from France or the US they would be very happy to receive them.
Apparently the young people in Koutou-bete were restless and looking for a project, something they could do for Jesus. They found a little village 9 kilometers away (5 miles) and began going there on Sabbath mornings and started a branch Sabbath School. To put this in perspective, they walk the 5 miles each way on a little dirt path through the brush, and they carry their instruments with them. Now granted they aren’t much, a large yellow water container for a bass drum, another drum/stringed instrument and their maracas, but still that is dedication.
They have been doing this for some weeks and Rebecca and I were invited to go there today and see what they had been doing, also I am sure in the hopes that we would be impressed to help them financially. So this morning at 0830 Rebecca and I got on the moto and headed off for the village of Betkrim following behind Pastor Dieudonne and Roger our Chaplain who is the head elder in the church at Koutou-bete.
The first 7 kilometers were fine, good paved road, no problems at the check point, but then we headed onto the dirt and sand. Now this is rainy season and so there were large puddles to skirt around and much of the sand had been compacted down, but there were still plenty of places where the bike was really hard to control.I was proud of Rebecca, like a good Tchadien she hung onto the moto, not to me. And she has become a very good passenger, knowing how not to upset the apple cart, or moto in this case. I also figured out why most of our fractures are left tib-fib fractures. When the bike starts to go over it is your left foot you naturally put down first, if you are right footed I guess. Well I could easily see that if that foot catches on something, and there are a lot of somethings to catch it on, the lower leg is going to snap like a twig. Anyway, just an aside. After 9 kilometers on the path we arrived at the village. People had gathered and the young people from Koutou-bete were there leading the singing. They were easy to spot as they had black pants or skirts and white t-shirts with J-A on the front and “Eglise Adventiste du Septieme Jour” (Seventh-day Adventist Church) on the back. It was what I expected, very bush. We were outside under a giant tree, with roosters crowing and oxen lowing in the background. Lots of little kids sitting on the mats, literally dressed in rags. In fact I don’t remember ever seeing, even around Bere, so many kids in such tattered, torn clothes. We were surrounded by the fields of the villagers mingled in with their mud brick, thatched roof huts. Very different from what we are used to here in Moundou. It was a pretty simple service, the choir led the singing for a while, the pastor asked me to have the opening prayer, and then he gave the lesson study, followed by more singing and closing prayer.
There were several things that really impressed me though. One was the Pastor. Dieudonne is an evangelist at heart, on Thanksgiving at morning worship at the hospital he somehow tied the American Thanksgiving in with the seven trumpets of Revelation, and when he gets going, man, Dwight L. Moody would be proud. And when he gets wound up, his poor translator (he is speaking in French and someone is translating into Ngombaye), gets left in the dust. He will talk for literally two minutes, give his translator 5-10 seconds and then just get going again. His whole body shakes in anticipation of what he is going to say next. But today he gave Roger the time he needed to translate, and he kept it simple. The lesson was on the mission of Jesus which he beautifully wove into a message of the love of God, of salvation for all, and the call of all Christians to be missionaries for God.
At the end he invited one of the village elders to ask questions or make comments. We learned that although there is a school they never are able to finish the school year, so education is lacking. They would love to have a church to worship in. During rainy season worshiping outside is always dicey. They asked us to come hold a medical clinic for them. They have no bibles in Ngombaye or hymnals for that matter. Dieudonne impressed me again as he told them he couldn’t promise anything, except that if they were faithful in worshiping together each Sabbath and learning the Bible truths we would back in two to three months and hold a grand baptism at the river which is quite close to the village (meaning within 20 kilometers (12 miles)).
So where is the new birth in all this? The pastor gave the village elder a notebook and pen and asked him to go around and record the names of those wishing to become Seventh-day Adventist Christians. It is the first record of a church in this village. We look forward to the next step when we return for the grand baptism at the river.
We are pretty pumped, this week Nick Buchholz our physical therapist comes. He is the final member of our team for the rest of 2015 which includes Rebecca and Diana Hernandez and our SM/Nurse from Southern University, Danny Alvarez. With this team we are hoping to get a mobile clinic program going and get some public health outreach started. We don’t even have to totally re-invent the wheel as they are already doing that up in and around Bere. But today as we bumped along on the moto looking at the road (read 4-6 foot wide dirt path), with low hanging mango tree branches we wondered how we are ever going to get our ambulance to these villages. We have got to start thinking about getting some other wheels for the hospital, something meant to go off road, like a used land rover or Toyota Hilux. I have no idea how we are going to acquire something like that. Which is a good thing, because it means I get to once again see a miracle from God.
For those of you new to our blog please look around at the other pages, the “About” page tells a bit of who we are and our background, the “Definitions” page explains some terms that are used that some of you may not be familiar with, such as GC or AHI. The “Timeline” gives an idea of where we will be throughout the year, and the “Video” page has a video Bekki made of Koza Hospital as well as the videos she has made of Moundou. There is also the Surgical Pictures Page, but be forewarned, it has some very graphic pictures, so if you don’t like blood and guts, stay away from that page. You will also find links to other missionary blogs such as Olen and Danae Netteburg and others. Finally, if you like our blog and want to receive each new post directly to your e-mail, please sign up with your e-mail in the subscribe box. It doesn’t cost anything, there is no commitment, it just makes it easier to follow us.
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