Scott and Susie had been waiting in Chad a long time. Over 11 years, in fact. Praying and waiting. Working and praying and waiting. Drilling wells, teaching hygiene, holding dental and medical clinics, sharing the Word…and waiting on God for that miracle when someone would choose to follow Jesus.
MAF has supported this work for years by flying visiting dental and medical teams, short-term visitors, the team’s families, and medical emergencies to and from their location.
In a Muslim country like Chad, Scott and Susie knew that it could take a long time. They prepared themselves for the wait. They moved to the country in 2005 with their small family that grew to seven in total. They learned the language and lived in a place 12-15 hour’s drive from the capital. They drilled over 50 wells across the nearby countryside, explaining clearly with each that the gift of water was a gift of love in obedience to their God to love their neighbors. In the photo on this page, a crowd gathers around a well drilled by Scott and the team.
Then it happened in 2016. Two sisters and two children chose to follow Jesus.
“I’ve always believed that we would see something happen in our time here,” Susie says. “You’re always waiting and expecting it. But when it finally happened, it was just surreal. Like, this…just…happened! There are actually people believing!”
Two Sisters and the Ruthless Patriarch
It didn’t ‘just happen’ in the instantaneous sense. For years Susie had studied the Word with various women in the town. For years a few of the women said they were thinking of following Jesus. When the two sisters, ‘Ally’ and ‘Sally’ made their decision, both remained quiet about it. It’s a dangerous thing to be vocal.
Sally’s husband had previously left her with five children. Two of them, age 10 and 12 at the time, also became believers. One night at a low point, Sally cried out to God. “If you’re not real, I can’t do this. You need to show me what’s right.” That evening she had a vision where Jesus clearly spoke to her, assuring her that “I am the way”.
“When she woke up from that, she wasn’t going to keep quiet and hide her faith anymore,” Susie describes. “She decided to get really bold with it, and it was then that the persecution came.”
The ruthless patriarch rained down punishment and threats on Sally and the two children, yet all refused to recant. The persecution included beatings and beratement; taking their bedding and clothes; denying food and water; burning the children’s uniforms, books, and notebooks; threatening to lock them in the house and burn it down. They refused to recant. Once, the day before final exams, the patriarch locked the 12-year-old girl in her room for 11 hours without food, water or schoolbooks on a hot day. She refused to recant. The following day she took the exams and scored the highest of the class.
With no punishment working to make Sally recant, the patriarch finally offered a truce with conditions: Stop talking about it, and the persecution would end. She responded, “I can’t.”
Eyes are now more intently observing the foreigners living in the town, Scott says. “Everybody is watching everything. If somebody comes to our house, people are going to take note. It’s fine to come, but if you come more than the average person or there’s not an obvious reason for coming, people will start wondering why.”
Which is why people like Sally are the key – someone in the culture sharing in a way foreigners never could. Sally and Ally meet privately with other women to study the Word, and Sally publicly speaks out about her newfound faith.
“We don’t feel like 12 years = two believers, therefore 24 years will = four believers,” Scott says, and they both laugh at the math. “We’re a little more hopeful.”
More Answered Prayer
The past year has continued to be one of answered prayers following years of waiting. Fifteen years ago, before Scott and Susie even began their work in Chad, they had been praying that God would send someone to a nearby unreached people group. In September 2017, a single woman made that commitment following a MAF flight to visit the area.
The group population is over 360,000 spread across several countries. The area in Chad is often referred to as ‘the swamp’ due to the flooding that occurs for six months of the year, completely cutting the area off to land travel other than walking through water for eight days while hoping to find a dry place to sleep.
“I honestly don’t know if she would have heard God’s call to come back and work with these people if MAF hadn’t flown us down there for the visit,” Scott reflects. “It’s impossible to drive there in the rainy season so we wouldn’t have been able to get her down there. That was her only window of opportunity. That rainy season it had to be MAF or nothing.”
MAF has supported this work for years through flying visiting dental and medical teams, short-term visitors, the team’s families, and medical emergencies. MAF welcomes the opportunity to support the new work in the south.
It’s a long road ahead for the new recruit that includes finishing a Masters in Linguistics and learning French, Chadian Arabic, and the language of the people group in order to translate God’s Word, but she is ecstatic about the future.
The long wait and answered prayers will require still more waiting, but the team is ready, patient and hopeful.