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Recently, Céline Pham served for two and half months in Chad. Using her nursing skills, Céline visited a number of AIM locations across the country. Here she shares her reflections:
It feels so good to be back home. But at the same time, I have all these fresh memories that produce lots of emotions as I look back on my time away.
It was my first experience in a foreign country. Immersed in that different culture, I really enjoyed getting to know the local people from Chad and appreciated their hospitality towards strangers. I was impressed with their generosity, how they live as an interactive community, their sense of servanthood and flexibility, and the simplicity in daily lives.
My personal goals in Chad were to deepen my relationship with God and to bless and encourage all the people that I would encounter. The second aspect was more challenging. I often wondered during my time there if what I was doing was useful, and whether I was fulfilling their expectations. Knowing that I was there for a short period seemed to increase the pressure I was putting on myself.
In that cross-cultural situation, I was afraid of doing something wrong, something that would be misunderstood. So, sometimes I didn’t feel totally free in what I wanted to do or to visit places I wanted to go to. I was also frustrated with the challenge of the language barrier, which unfortunately limited my interaction with Chadians. At the same time, I knew that I would face these challenges in discovering a new culture. It has been an opportunity for me to try and communicate in creative ways, for example, by just caring for people, providing medical care, staying by their side, and helping families.
Living a public faith
The spiritual life in Chad is very different from what I have known in France. France is such a secular country, faith must be personal and private. But my experience in Chad has challenged me to live my faith more openly in my daily life. My goal now is to continue to develop an intense prayer life despite my comfortable situation, which is much safer than in Chad, because I want to depend on God and submit to him in everything.
I want to share my faith and talk about this experience with the people around me, to encourage friends considering mission, but especially to my non-believing friends. I want to explore new ways of sharing my faith with my church, my youth group, in my town, in simple and accessible ways such as meeting together to play sport, music or enjoying other activities…
For all these reasons and for my future projects, I feel the need to deepen my biblical skills, to have a strong foundation in Scripture, and to increase my understanding of God to be able to serve him better, so I’m hoping to attend Geneva Bible College.