En ce moment (“at this time,” in French), we live in a constant tension between the hard and the good. This period of transition from France to Chad, while at times hard and overwhelming, can be at the same time fun and exciting. We are sacrificing much: time we could have spent with our families and friends in the United States; the consistency and seeming stability of living in a single place for an extended period; the relative ease of living in community with like-minded individuals who speak the same language; and basic comforts such as familiar food, climate, and even illnesses that our bodies are used to.
At the same time, there are numerous benefits to what we are doing: offering our children (and ourselves) a bigger picture of the world, including the increased necessity to rely upon Jesus when we are perhaps more frequently uncomfortable and unsure; opportunities to try new foods, visit new places, speak new languages; less technology and more family time; learning more about the body of Christ outside of our United States-oriented concept; but most importantly, following and living in God’s will.
No one said knowing and following Jesus would be easy, but Jesus says himself it is worth it (Matthew 4:19); he is worth it (Philippians 3:7-8). There is worth and there is cost. When sitting at the foot of the cross, and thinking about what Jesus sacrificed for me, there is nothing that I could sacrifice for him that would even come close, except my life. And that is what he asks of us—that we daily deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow him (Matthew 16:24-26, Mark 8:34-37, Luke 9:23-25).
God is leading us to Chad, so we are following, and this is why: for others to learn about the saving knowledge of Jesus, they need to hear about him (Romans 10:17). Isaiah 40:28a says, “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.” There are those who do not know because they have not heard, and therefore cannot believe.
In the French language there are two verbs that mean “to know.” One is an informative or factual sense: “savoir.” After living in France, I know (savoir) that when the French count on their fingers, they start with their thumb and not their index finger. There is a second verb in French for “to know.” That verb is “connaître.” This is knowing something or someone in a relational sense. This experience and journey are helping me to know (connaître) my family better.
Many Muslims know Jesus in the savoir sense. They will agree that he existed and was a prophet who lived a perfect life, but they would have to renounce their Islamic beliefs to know him in the connaître sense, because to know Jesus, one must acknowledge and believe that he is the Son of God (Galatians 4:8), which Muslims categorically deny as heresy. For them to have a relationship with Jesus, for them to truly know him for who the Bible says he is, and who we as Christians know him to be, they need to get to the salvific connaître level of knowing God.
We are blessed with connaître knowledge of Jesus (John 17:3, 1 Corinthians 8:3, 1 John 5:20). But there are those in this world who have not yet understood or known him (1 John 3:1). To be frank, missionaries have already gone to the more beautiful, exotic parts of the world, but to be fair, that is because they generally started on the coast and needed to journey inland—but in the past there weren’t travel options like there are today. That means that the unreached people today remain in the dusty, hot, non-vacation-destination places like Chad. These people are worthy of salvation, and God loves them as much as he loves you and me (Galatians 3:14-21). They, as we, are created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). When it gets hard, I need to remember that I am privileged enough to really know God and have seen his transformative power in my life. I can’t keep that to myself—that is not what God has called us to. Good News for all the world (John 3:16); Good News to be shared with all the world (Matthew 28:19). The ends of the earth, which he created—all nations were made by him and are meant to glorify God (Revelation 7:9-10). This is why they must come to know him too.
Claire R. serves the Church of the Lutheran Brethren and Lutheran Brethren International Mission as a missionary to Chad, Africa.