How do you help with mental health?

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Ann works in northern Chad, seeking to share the gospel and to demonstrate God’s love and power through her medical work. She shares more here:

Was the murderer mentally ill? Would the 25-year-old with learning difficulties have been less troublesome if she had not been chained up by herself in an empty cell for the last 10 years? These are questions I have asked myself during the last 18 months working with mentally ill people in north east Chad where there are no psychiatry services and where troublesome patients are commonly chained up at home.

It is by God’s grace, and his timing, that after a slow start patients have been coming regularly to be treated. Local people had believed that mental illness and epilepsy were only treatable by traditional healers, if at all. Because we started seeing patients in a small church which I attend, the pastor could encourage people he knew personally to come. The number of patients increased rapidly as those who were treated informed friends and relatives who then came from far and wide.

How can they hear?

Riyad*, a young man from Chad shares his testimony with us.

“I was sent to Quranic school when I was seven years old. After studying for a long time, I was authorised to teach my younger brothers from 2011 to 2012. During my time at Quranic school though, I also used to go to a Boys Club at a Christian orphanage, there they would recount Bible stories which I enjoyed. Somehow, from my childhood, I knew I would follow Jesus and the gospel. The Christians gave me a Bible which helped me a lot. When I was older I met a missionary from America. I decided to read the Bible with him because I felt it was important to understand everything before believing. He returned to America after a few months. Before I met him I had thought that Christians don’t pray and didn’t really know God, but afterwards I knew that they had all that. At the end of 2013, I decided to follow Jesus. I thank God for that. My parents are very serious about Islam which means that I haven’t told them about my decision. I am developing a lot in my faith because I am going to Bible teaching in a church led by another missionary and a weekly Bible study. I want to know how to live as a Christian.”

*Name changed for security reasons

The church is a place of healing

The pastor of the church I attend was a Muslim before becoming a Christian. He has suffered much for his faith. One day after our clinic, he was particularly excited to thank God as he had heard patients and their relatives say ‘Amen’ after I prayed for healing. He is more accustomed to abuse and refusal. One thing is certain: the church is now recognised as a place of healing and is talked of around the town and far afield. Praise God! May God use this experience to open people’s hearts to the gospel. More than 95% of the population are Muslims.

The challenge, perhaps, for all medical workers is to find the balance between the medical work, language learning and outreach activities. Yes, we demonstrate God’s love through our medical work, but “how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” (Romans 10:14-15). I limited my medical work to two days a week so that I could learn Arabic and have time talking with local ladies. As I return to Chad after home assignment, I hope to learn another local language to be able to go into the villages and speak with women who don’t speak Arabic, while continuing some medical work. I pray that this will open the way for a team in the future to share the gospel with those who’ve yet to hear it.

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There are so many ways you can be a part of reaching Africa's unreached peoples with the good news of Jesus Christ.