The boy sitting next to the sack of grain guards it like a sentinel guarding a treasure. Behind him are hastily set up shelters, providing minimal housing for thousands more like him. This is the refugee camp in Chad called Democratie (democracy). He is thin and obviously hungry. The amulets around his neck reveal his fear of the world around him and his trust in magic charms for protection. What brought him to this place?
He came from the Central African Republic, where civil unrest and unabated violence has raged for over a year. This boy is a Fulbe nomad. As such, his heritage and identity would be found in his cattle. Perhaps his father was killed, defending their cattle from marauding soldiers. Did the boy flee through the bush with his family, or alone? Where is his family? Where is home? Without cattle and without land, all seems lost for this boy and his fellow displaced refugees.
Yet we hear Jesus say, “Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied” (Luke 6:21). Speaking through Isaiah, the Lord says, “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: …to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter…” (Isaiah 58:7).
The donations of Lutheran Brethren congregations and individuals have become God’s blessing to this boy and thousands more. LBIM has facilitated the installation of nine water wells in six different refugee camps, providing clean and abundant water where there was none. Also, 400 large sacks of grain have been distributed in these communities. While not a long term solution, lives have been saved.
This new ministry has been led by Pastor Malloum Eloi, a Chadian Lutheran Brethren missionary, and Nathanael Szobody, LBIM missionary.
Pastor Malloum writes: “Three Muslim men from Democratie approached me at my local market. They said, ‘What you are doing for our people, our own Muslim brothers would never do. We have seen Muslims come in with help, but they will only help their own family. You Christians are coming in and helping us—Muslims and strangers, who you did not even know. We have never seen this before, and it has deeply impacted us.’”
“The truck driver delivering the grain said, ‘What you are doing is obviously a result of a true faith in a true God, and a commitment to follow his true way. And people are noticing.’”
“The local political representative of the region said, ‘Your mission’s intervention here is a powerful testimony. You noticed a need, and in one short month, you organized and intervened and helped in a very significant way. It is obvious that your faith enabled this to happen. Look, the results are speaking on your behalf.’”
To those who gave and prayed, Malloum writes, “Scripture tells us that those who give a cup of cool water to one who is in need will not lose their reward. This project has resulted in multiple opportunities for the gospel to go forth. One man told me that through this ministry, we are saving those that are dying. May this be true in both the physical sense and the spiritual sense. I am convinced that much eternal fruit will result from this ministry. Thank you for your compassion for the people of Chad.”
Nathanael Szobody writes, “This gift of wells and grain is a strong statement to the refugees and Muslim political officials in the region that the Church is devoted to caring for these poorest of the poor who are rejected by the rest of the world. I am eager to see North American and Chadian churches take steps to complete the message through a continued personal involvement in these nascent Fulbe communities—that those who mourn may be comforted, that those among them who hunger and thirst for God’s righteousness may be filled with the love of Jesus.”
Dan Venberg serves as Mission Mobilizer and Recruiter for Lutheran Brethren International Mission.