A government official wearing a flowing jellabiya, a long tunic common in Chad, greeted us with these words, “Thank you for coming to visit our country, to see it with your own eyes. A Chadian proverb tells us that what is close to the eyes is close to the heart.” His eyes peered at us through the crack in the white turban that served to protect his face and head from the bright Chadian sun. Those eyes communicated hospitality and sincerity.
I was sitting across from him in the courtyard of the regional government offices. With me were three visitors from the Lutheran Brethren Church of Taiwan: Pastor I Sung Li (Tom), chair of the mission board of the Lutheran Brethren Church of Taiwan, and youth pastor Hsiao En Wen (Daniel) and his wife Hsin Yun Wu (Nancy). We were in the middle of a tour of Lutheran Brethren International Mission’s (LBIM) mission activities in Chad.
My spine tingled with excitement as I reflected on how God had orchestrated his people and his Church in preparation for this. Exactly a century ago, Berge and Herborg Revne arrived in what is current day Chad. They are recognized today as the first ever Christian witness in this part of Africa. God worked through those called to go and those called to send, and the Lutheran Brethren Church is alive and well in Chad. In fact, the Chadian Church is active in sending their own missionaries to the nations, today partnering with LBIM.
In 1951, Arthur and Ruth Nyhus were called as the CLB’s first missionaries to the island nation of Taiwan, and the Lutheran Brethren Church of Taiwan was planted. Now 70 years old, made up of 17 congregations, the Lutheran Brethren Church in Taiwan is increasingly feeling the call to cross-cultural mission.
Daniel and Nancy have specifically felt a strong sense of calling to serve among unreached people groups. Partnering with LBIM’s current work in Chad seemed a great option, so we organized this exploratory trip. While there in Chad we discussed many things, including ministry possibilities, what it takes to raise a family in Chad, practical living realities, and the blessings and challenges of culturally diverse missionary teams.
As the trip ended and we processed our time spent together, Pastor Tom, Pastor Daniel and Nancy unanimously expressed a renewed passion and affirmation in their sense of calling to mission in Chad. They shared how the process of visiting with our field missionaries, combined with a direct engagement with people who are living in spiritual darkness, has given them increased resolve and desire to serve in Chad. Indeed, what they saw with their eyes brought the calling closer to their hearts.
Thank you for praying specifically for Daniel and Nancy, and for the Church of the Lutheran Brethren in Taiwan, as they take the next steps in the process. Many details must fall into place to see this dream come to reality. They and their three children are currently enrolled in a mission training program called Radius. Other steps need to be taken, including the mobilization of the Lutheran Brethren congregations in Taiwan to provide support. A sending agency (or the formation of a Taiwan LB mission sending agency) needs to be engaged. Details related to budget, timeline, partnership details and further training need to be finalized.
We are excited about an ethnically diverse Lutheran Brethren Church, united in service to the mission of our Lord. Thank you, CLB, for being a Church sent!
Dan Venberg serves the Church of the Lutheran Brethren as Mission Mobilizer and Recruiter for Lutheran Brethren International Mission.