Ann works among an unreached people group in northern Chad, seeking to share the gospel with local people and disciple believers, to encourage women and teenagers at a small Arabic-speaking church, and to treat mentally ill and epileptic patients.
There is only one psychiatrist in Chad, so very few patients in the area where Ann lives and works have received help. With only five mission workers in a people group of over 300,000 too, very few have met a follower of Jesus.
Seeing the suffering of others can be hard, but especially so when you know that prevention of the suffering is available, if only they had taken advantage of it. Such is the case relatively frequently in my work with mentally ill patients. Only recently I saw a man chained to a tree who had previously done well for a whole year on treatment for psychosis. For reasons known only to the family, they stopped bringing him for treatment. Why did they not connect his being well to the treatment and the disordered thoughts and aggression now to the lack of treatment? I don’t know.
It is a privilege, however, to be able to treat such patients and see them come out of their mental and physical prisons and join in with society.
My work here is not only to help people medically but to tell people the good news. Undoubtedly, mental health work opens doors. Before Christmas, while visiting in a small village outside the town where I live, I was asked to see a 20 year old man who had been chained up alone in a hut for four years because of his aggression and bizarre behaviour. He had been deaf since contracting measles at the age of 10, but became sick after the death of his older sister. Imagine the distress of his mother. I could pray for him and give him medicine, and now he is up and about mixing normally with his relatives. Praise God.
My work here is not only to help people medically but to tell people the good news. Undoubtedly, mental health work opens doors.
I have been asked when I will return to his village as there are other sick people to see. How can I turn this into opportunities to speak of God? Should I leave people I am discipling in the big town to go out among the main unreached people group here?
I see mentally ill and epileptic patients only one day a week at an Arabic speaking church. Four days a week, I am learning the language spoken in most of the villages surrounding the town where I live. I have started visiting villages hoping to build up relationships, practice the language and see what opportunities might open for the future. Our hope in AIM Chad is that in the future there will be a team working among these people, who currently have no witness to Christ at all outside the two towns in the region which have churches of Christians from the south of Chad.