The Welcome Center, located in N’Djamena Chad, is so much more than a guest house and conference facility. I could fill pages and pages with what goes on at this station, but here are three of the reasons that this place is such a blessing:
First, the Welcome Center is home. Jeremy and I live on the property in a house that was built for the managing family. It has been home to us for over four years—since August 2016. The center has been home, at one time or another, to most of our other LBIM missionary families as well. When our missionaries first arrive in Chad they live at the Center for a time of orientation, language learning, and cultural acquisition. This can last up to a year. During that time, we want them to feel like they can truly settle in and start to figure out how it works to live in Chad. Jeremy and I are there as an emotional and practical support system, helping with tasks such as paperwork, learning where to buy groceries, and introductions to Chadian contacts.
The Center has also been a temporary home to our missionaries during transitional periods and seasonal hardships. For example, Nathanael and Carrie S. and family live at the guest house during the rainy season when the roads to their village are impassable. Paul and Teresa S. lived there with their two youngest boys while their new training facility was being built. Jeremy and I are so grateful for these times when other families are living so close in community with us! We love the opportunity to build relationships and bond with our teammates, and just have some fun. They all soon learn how much we love board games.
Second, the Welcome Center is a hub. Because of its location in the capital city it is often a pit stop on the way in or out of the country. It has been a comfortable, cool, and clean place to stay for missionaries and pastors from dozens of organizations. It is also a central place of operation for the LBIM ministries that are happening in Chad. Our office sees a daily flurry of activity. It may be that Terach (the director of the school in Boudamassa) stops in to get funds for school supplies or Pastor Malloum (a southern Chadian pastor) arrives to pick up paperwork for grain he is transporting south for famine relief. Our ministry comes with the privilege of seeing and being involved in so many of the other amazing ministries of LBIM in Chad.
Lastly, the Welcome Center is a gathering place. Within the guest house building there is a conference room (with accompanying kitchen and dining area) that can host up to 50 people. Groups have used the room for as little as two hours or as long as a week, with conference guests using every available bed. Our LBIM families gather at the Center once a year for a time of retreat and fellowship. It is a time to pray together, seek God’s will, and regroup. The Center’s role of gathering place is profound, because whether we are hosting Samaritan’s Purse doing training for Operation Christmas Child, or Chadian Lutheran Brethren leaders coming together for teaching and prayer, or just a pastor seeking some time to meet with God… we get to facilitate people meeting together in the name of Jesus!
Sallee S. and her husband Jeremy serve the Church of the Lutheran Brethren as managers of our Lutheran Brethren Welcome Center in N’Djamena Chad.