February 19, 2013

Chad: Longing to Know and Be Known

In an intimate journal entry from the night before leaving France to enter the mission field in Chad, a missionary hopes and prays about the journey that lies ahead.

  • A New Journey

    I long to live among the Africans as they live, to know them and have them know me. I long for my family (wife and sons and me) to learn how to do life with them in their language and in their way.

It’s 12:20am and I can’t sleep. I think I drank too much coffee earlier when Khévang and his family were here. Yet, I also sense God’s Spirit keeping me awake and working in my heart.

I feel his grace to pray and write and think…. My heart is full and my mind also. I hope that I will be able to have clarity of mind long enough to put my thoughts in writing.

Often I wonder what I am supposed to accomplish during these next three years. What am I supposed to produce? I worry, because I don’t have the answers. Maybe I’m not supposed to produce anything per se. Maybe I’m just supposed to learn … learn how to speak the local language and live among the people … learn how to view these people as true people, not just “an unreached people group,” or “Chadians” or “nomads”… all the titles I’ve given them from afar. I hope that God lets us truly get to know some of them ... I hope that after three years, these people will have become real people to us.

How can I explain “peopleness?” How can I explain personhood? When we look at people from another culture, country, or language, people who are outsiders… when we look at them from a distance and make observations or draw conclusions (even unconsciously), those people are not “people” to us. I mean … they are not the people who matter. Or they are not real faces with real names of men, women, and children that we know and share history with. They are not “people” to us.

Before living in France, the French were … the French. We … I had all kinds of adjectives to describe them and categories to put them in. I can’t say what they were for sure now, but they were not people I knew. Now, after two years of living in France, the French are: Khévang et Alice, Roger et Hélène, Joel et Julie, Laurent et Létizia, Etienne et Peggy, Yia, Jean David, Léa et Marco.

 Now the French are people for me to know and love and share my life with. They are not “the French.” They are friends with real faces, some of whom know me well as I know them. They have become “people” to me. They are people with whom I can do life. Their language has become a language in which I could live and do life, a language I love, a language that helps me express who I am and what I want to communicate.

I long to live among the people of Chad as they live, to know them and have them know me. I long for my family (wife and sons and me) to learn how to do life with them in their language and in their way. So voilà, these are a few of the things I hope to “accomplish” during these next three years. I am going to Chad as a learner….

-Written by a TEAM missionary