It was just over a year ago during Art’s trip to Chad in 2016 that we were stunned to find how empty the shops were and how vacant the hospitals and schools were. Having not received pay for some time, most gov’t employees were on strike, leaving students with no educators and hospitals with no doctors or staff, which eventually trickled down to stores with no merchandise.
After many months of this, the country did recover, but now we are hearing of, what might be, another crisis. When the government workers received their paychecks last week, many found only a portion of their salary, some reduced by as much as 40%. Gov’t employees include police, military, teachers and hospitals. People are again on strike and frustrated. The hospital in Mongo just started sending patients home saying that there is no one there to help them.
Please pray for the people of Chad while the government works on stabilizing their economy once again.
Millet is the main staple of Chad, and most families in and around Mongo have land in the perimeter for planting this seed. It is what most Chadians eat every day, so if there is a year with a very good harvest, the farmers, and the area as a whole, are very well off. Likewise, if the crops are very bad, then many will go hungry. There are two harvest times for millet. Red millet is harvested in November, and white millet is harvested now, in January.
The news for this year’s harvest is neither great, nor bad. So, although we all love a big return, we can be thankful that there will be food on the “table” for our friends in Chad until next harvest.
Please also pray for the spiritual harvest to ripen in the hearts of the Dadjo as God’s Word works it’s way into their lives.
Christmas is upon us and with it come many memories. The Christmas songs tell us that it is a time of snow, a time for Santa to climb down the chimney, a time of mistletoes, and a time of gift giving. Most of my childhood memories of Christmas are of trees covered with snow and gifts under a tree. I have memories of family gathering and times of joy. On my recent trip to Chad, Christmas memories again flooded into my mind. As I walked across the church compound that we used to call home in Mongo, I recalled how Christmas is celebrated by the church in Mongo. Mongo is about a 7 hours drive east of N’Djamena, the capital. It is dry and dusty at Christmas time, and the average temperature at this cooler time of year is 95F/ 35C. There is no snow, there is no talk of Santa, no mistletoe and no gift giving. It all sounds rather bleak until you realize that, at the time of Christ’s birth, life was not too much different than what Mongo is like today, and the church in Mongo has its own way of celebrating the coming of our Savior, a celebration that the town is invited to come and join in on. The dreary looking church compound is strung with lights. Seiko (grass fencing) is put up to partition the area and chairs are set up outside for visitors to relax and enjoy the festivities. Food is brought by members of the large congregation. Donations are given to help cover the costs of drinks for the guests. Children from the local blind school and Christian school do skits. Dignitaries, including the governor are invited. Music is played, and the neighborhood sees how Christ’s birth is celebrated. It is a great testimony to the people of Mongo and a wonderful encouragement to the church. So, the next time we think that Christmas needs to be celebrated in a specific way, let’s remember the church in Mongo. They celebrate Christmas in a very different way, but Christ’s birth is still the reason for the season. We wish you all a very Merry/Happy Christmas as you too remember and celebrate Christ’s birth.
Driving in Chad this past November, one thing that stood out to me was the road from the capital to where we lived in Mongo. That is a distance of around 500 kilometers, a little over 300 miles.
When we first arrived in Chad in 2001, this trip took us almost 9 hours on very rough roads that were best suited to off-road trucks. Over time, Chad and outside entities invested in infrastructure and built roads between the two cities. The trip is now down to around 6-1/2 hours.
While this is an amazing change, what is still needed in this landlocked country is a cost-effective way to import goods and a way of transporting these goods across a country that is over twice the size of Texas.
What I didn’t realize at the time was that discussions were already underway to build a railroad line in Chad. This rail line would connect to the neighboring country of Cameroon, which already has a track that extends to the Atlantic Ocean. A vote was taken in June, and the World Bank is providing funds to research the feasibility. A private firm has also committed to funding the project.
Just 4 short months after this vote, Sudan reached an agreement with two Chinese companies to do a feasibility study on constructing a railroad from the Red Sea to the Chad border. This railway would connect with the proposed Chad railway and result in a transport system that goes from the Red Sea to the Atlantic Ocean.
These proposed railways would be fantastic for Chad’s economy and reduce the price of goods for the people of Chad. It looks like it won’t be too long before Chad has its own railroad, and with it, a means to improve a standard of living that remains one of the very worst in the world.