Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Tchere--Faithful to the End

My wife and I have had the privilege of trekking through the Amazon jungles, hiking through the Andes and Alps, and traversing the Sahara desert. The most daunting and memorable of all those travels, of course, was traveling west to east across the middle of the Sahara desert.

The sub-Sahara desert west of Sudan and south of Libya is no-man’s land. Travel nine hours by truck due east from N’Djamena, capital of Chad, and you’ll come to the tiny village of Korbo. There you’ll meet Tchere Ouday.

Tchere Ouday is dressed in a long white robe. His face is weathered and his mostly bald head sports some white stubble. He sits cross-legged on a mat inside his mud hut.

More than 35 years ago, Tchere became the first Christian among his people, the Dangaleats in the Guera region of Chad. For many decades he worked as a mason. He is more than 70 years old now and has reduced his activities—yet he still continues to serve as an elder of the Korbo church.

In the past two years drought and caterpillar infestations have substantially reduced the amount of food the Dangaleat people have been able to raise. Typically Tchere would offer guests a meal. But on this day he offers a small cup of sweet tea, a bowl of peanuts, some washed lettuce, and a few slices of tomato dipped in salt and ground red pepper.

“How can we pray for you, brother?” you ask him.

Usually Dangaleat Muslims and Christians say the same thing: Please pray that God will give us more food. That is on Tchere’s mind too. But it’s not the first thing. Instead he says, “Pray that we might remain firm in our faith in our old age.”

Who could be more faithful than Tchere? Even against threat of death he refused to recant his faith during the horrific Chadian civil war that raged through the Guera in the late 1970s. He’s served the Lord steadfastly ever since. Still, Tchere knows better than to take his Christian faith for granted.

Although Tchere doesn’t have the complete Bible in his language yet, he knows that one of the greatest temptations you and I will ever face in this life is to spiritually drift away from the Lord. No one is immune—no matter how long and faithfully they have walked with the Lord.

My friend Tchere is one of several godly men who have helped motivate me to stay in the race until the end.

My prayer is that when I am Tchere's age, I will still be serious about staying firm in the faith. I know I am not immune to other challenges and spiritually dry points ahead, but I want to be faithful to the end--just like Tchere.

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