Due to the COVID situation, the Chadian government required seven days of independent quarantine for incoming passengers. Therefore, we were transported to the Welcome Center (commonly known as the Mission Headquarters), about half an hour away from the airport, just after we got off the plane. So, having safely arrived in Chad, I can so far only feel the difference in climate. There has been no opportunity to appreciate the local customs here. The world outside the high wall of the headquarters exists only in my imagination.
We know we are welcomed by the Chadian Church and by the LBIM missionaries. But so far here in the Center, there are not many opportunities to interact with other people. I can, however, still feel one kind of local vitality. Every time I open the heavy screen doors and step out, I can see all kinds of medium-sized lizards running around my feet. From time to time I would be frightened by their sounds.
After a few days I asked my son, out of curiosity, “Aren’t you afraid of seeing so many lizards?” His answer could be an amazing gift from God, which hit me right between the eyes. He said, “Me? No! I always feel that they are lining up to welcome us!” These words echoed in my mind again and again. That is right. When we left Taiwan, we were sent off at the presidential level by the Church and family, but when we came to Chad, the people of Chad did not warmly welcome us. Only the reptiles on the ground welcomed us.
The messengers of the gospel are not always welcomed. The prophets who are sent are often disgusting to others. When our family of five landed, there was no applause or attention. In the eyes of Chadian people, we might be labeled “Les Chinois.” This is due to their impression of Chinese people in the past: “They just come here to make money, to exploit our country, tell us to do hard work, and then leave again.” The senior missionary reminded us that this is the reality that we must face, and this is the first impression that others have of us. Not only that, but by sharing the gospel, we will also bring new shock and even conflict to unbelieving communities. In some ways, we are not welcome at all.
But is this really true? I don’t think this is the case. God wants to teach me this truth through the child’s innocence. Through all the things he has created, God will eagerly welcome every messenger with the mission of the gospel. “How beautiful… are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation” (Isaiah 52:7). Jesus said, “I tell you… if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out” (Luke 19:40).
Many times, we long for recognition and praise from people. When we embark on the path of mission, we do get some praise and applause, but I know that this will not be the “normal” life of a missionary. For the Apostle Paul, the missionary life meant tribulation, poverty, hardship, scourging, imprisonment, disturbance, hard work, vigilance, and no food—as his daily routine (2 Corinthians 6:4-5). Although he was respected and loved by the Church, he was often despised and mocked by others. But then he added these words: “…dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything” (2 Corinthians 6:9b-10).
Paul is convinced that the Lord who called him and gave his life for him will always welcome him with open arms!
And I think, no matter what the future is for our family, we will never forget that God used a group of lizards to welcome us to Chad!
Daniel W. and his wife Nancy are missionaries from the Church of the Lutheran Brethren of Taiwan sent to the unreached peoples of Chad. They are seconded to Lutheran Brethren International Mission and work alongside our CLB Chadian missionaries.