n 2006 you met James Appel, missionary doctor to Tchad, in Our Daily Blog. In 2007 Dr. Appel will share with us once a quarter how God is working at Béré Adventist Hospital.
Watch next month for an encouraging blog by Gielle Kuhn.
December 18, 2006
Dust kicks up from the path, bathing everything in a fine powder. It is the dry season in Tchad. Walking beside me is our chaplain, Djimdigué Noel. We’ve left the hospital to go see the Imam at the mosque.
Everything is brown and dried out except the mango trees, although a few pathetic, lonely stocks of dried millet are here and there among the dried tumbleweeds and sparse brown grass. Mud huts with mud brick walls are scattered haphazardly as we approach the town.
Straight ahead rises the bright and shiny red-and-white cell phone tower, linking us with the outside world. To its right is a small square building painted white with a bright-blue rim around the top. Toward the roadside, twisted and gnarled tree limbs have been buried in the ground to form pillars for a reed mat-roofed veranda. Under the veranda are some mats tossed hither and thither. As we approach, tall robed men with round, flat-topped hats stride out of the mosque and settle on the ground outside.
“Al salaam alekum,” we greet to start the traditionally long African-Arabic greeting.
A single wooden-slatted chair is brought out. The Imam motions for me to sit on the chair, his dark green robes flowing out from under him as he sits down on the mat. I insist on joining him on the mat. I remove my sandals before sitting down cross-legged.
After the salutations have died down, I look expectantly at Noel who suggests we pray. Another wizened Arab to Noel’s left starts the prayer as we all hold our hands out, palms up in expectation of receiving the blessing of God. When it’s finished, we all lift our hands up to our face, palms toward the face, and then let them slide down to our laps to appropriate the blessing.
“I’ve wanted to talk to you for a while,” I begin in French, with Noel translating into Arabic, addressing the Imam.
“Chukran, chukran,” the Imam encourages me to continue.
“Many Muslims come to get treated at our hospital. . . .”
“. . . and when I walk through the hospital each day to see the patients, it makes me sad that our Muslim brothers have no real place to pray at our hospital.”
“Aywa . . .”
“We would like to give you a place to build a small shelter. . . . So when you come to be treated at our hospital, you can feel at home to pray to Allah.”
A long discussion then ensues, with many nods, smiles, and encouraging glances.
The Imam speaks, “Ever since you invited me to be present at your camp meeting and share a few words, I have felt that God is working here in Béré through the Adventist hospital. . . . I remember when the Adventist hospital was built more than 20 years ago. Since that time, no one has offered to give us a place to pray. In fact, I’d never even thought of it myself. But I know it must be Allah who has inspired you to treat us this way—as brothers and fellow believers in the one true God.”
I find myself walking back the same dusty path with Noel. “You realize, of course,” says Noel, breaking the silence, “that you will have no rest day or night. Muslims will come from all over to get treated at the Béré Adventist Hospital.” He smiles. “God is at work in Béré, and great things are about to happen!”
This is where I was meant to be!