Perhaps many of you have wondered how things are going on our mission field in Chad since the crisis that became the focus of our prayers in February. Following is an update from Matthew Rogness, Executive Director of World Missions that he asked me to pass on to you. – MAJ
Over the past several months you have been praying for the people of Chad and our missionaries there because of a rebel attack on Ndjamena that attempted to overthrow the government. The resulting humanitarian crisis and the evacuation of our missionaries have had far reaching consequences. Because of the generous financial support from the Church here in North America, we have been able to send funds to help our sister Churches deal with the humanitarian needs and we have been able to address the evacuation needs of our missionaries. I returned two weeks ago from Chad, Cameroon, and France, where I consulted with our missionaries on the ground. This is my report to you who have so faithfully prayed.
The Szobodys are finishing a four-year term and are scheduled to return to the States at the end of June. They will be home for one year of home assignment and will be based out of the Chicago area. This is a regularly scheduled home assignment.
The Rauns, who are administrated by Frontiers, are continuing their ministry in Ndjamena. They have been making plans to be in the States this summer but have not made a final decision with their mission leadership.
Regarding the Holzners and Venbergs, we want to inform you of the short-term decisions we have made after much prayer, observation, listening and discussion. We believe that it is best that in the short-term we not have them in Chad except to wrap things up. At the moment everything is calm but there is an uneasy sense of what the future may be. We have worked through plans that would allow Marcos to get back out to Bokoro to finalize being gone for several months, but Kirsten and the kids will stay in Ndjamena. The Venbergs and Linda Low are in Doh and are going through the same process.
We will bring the Holzners and the Venbergs back to the States on or about May 25th for a four-month home assignment. If everything remains stable, they will then return to Chad around September 25th. This will mean that they would be back in Chad about three weeks before the Fludes are due to move to Chad from France.
Taking a home assignment now will: 1) take them out of the uncertainty of the situation in Chad, 2) it will address the short-comings of a full evacuation plan we would need in place – especially since MAF (flight service) is not coming back to Chad in the next 4-6 months, 3) it will give time for medical services to be re-established in Chad, 4) it will allow Marcos to take the advanced SIL course in linguistics, 5) it will allow Dan to get his knee surgery which he has needed since his motorcycle accident several months ago, 6) it will allow for a “break” from the intensity of what it has been and would be and, 7) a home assignment will give them two months for themselves and their families.
In Linda Low’s case, this past year has been a blessing to the Venbergs as Linda’s teaching of the children has allowed for deeper village relationships and language learning for Rachel. With a good past year and the changes contemplated for the Venbergs, Linda will not need to return for a second year as previously planned. She will return to the States in early May. We thank Linda, for her important contribution to the Venbergs and the Fulbe ministry.
Larry and Pam Helland have been through a very difficult two years. The events have had an accumulated effect that means that we need to be very careful as we look to the future. We are very grateful as a Church for their important and critical ministry to see the Welcome Center brought to completion. This has given us a vital base from which to operate as the Lord gives us opportunity in the future. Again, after much prayer, counseling, and discussion we believe that it would be best for them to relocate to the States to heal and transition into life and ministry here. We appreciate their seven years of faithful ministry and pray that God will richly bless them as they seek His direction for their future. We as a Church want to agree to remember them in prayer through these transitions. We will work with them to ensure that they will have a good transition into new work and life here. It was difficult to come to these conclusions but they and we believe that this is best for them and their family.
Thank you for the way in which you have supported our missionaries to Chad, especially through these last several months. Your prayer and financial support has been extraordinary and they appreciate you very much. I want to add my thanks for your being the Church – in new and fresh and real ways as we have walked through these issues. May the Lord be glorified and may the work continue to the people of Chad.