Hook Evangelical Church’s involvement with the Dadjo people of Chad is one of many examples of how a church in the UK has built an ongoing relationship through Wycliffe Bible Translators’ InFocus project. Patrick Tucker, an elder at Hook EC, explains.
What made the church decide to get involved with InFocus?
The church has always had a strong mission interest. In 2000 someone suggested that we should consider adopting a people group. It became clear that many people in the church had an appetite to support something quite pioneering - linking to a group without the scriptures and among whom little or no evangelism was being done.
How did you find the right project?
Wycliffe’s InFocus team helped link us with the Dadjo people group in Chad. This group seemed to match the ’criteria’ - no existing evangelism, no church and no scripture translation. But there was a young Chadian man, Jean, whose father was a Dadjo, who wanted to reach out to that group. So, in God’s timing, some of the big decisions were made for us. Jean was ready to begin work and our church agreed to provide financial backing for him as a full-time evangelist to the Dadjo.
Since the start in 2002, much of Hook’s prayer and financial support has been for Jean doing village evangelism among the Dadjo. (He left the work in 2008 but another worker has taken his place.) We also learned of another Chadian evangelist working among the Dadjo in a different village and we have been able to support him in prayer and finance. Support from other sources have also enabled a couple from Wycliffe US to make huge inroads into the analysis of the Dadjo language - producing an alphabet, dictionary, learn-to-read books, health leaflets, and guides for teachers, as well as portions of scripture text. Literacy classes have been set up, involving up to 500 Dadjo speakers.
And you also visited Chad?
From the beginning we always hoped it would be possible to visit. The first visit in 2003 was carefully planned because the Dadjo had no idea who we were and may have cared even less if they knew why we were there! As time went by we made further visits to do practical work with Chadian churches in the Guera region, not far from the Dadjo. Little by little this has allowed us to make contact with the Dadjo people themselves and to win their confidence.
Our members have also been able to benefit from “the Chad experience’ by providing teams to run holiday Bible clubs in the capital, N’Djamena. A young couple spent a year doing administration and support work. Altogether, nearly 30 people have been able to visit. The impact has been inspirational and has ‘lifted’ church life.
How has being connected to this project challenged your church?
From the beginning we wanted this to be a whole church project, but getting this vision across is always a challenge! It can be difficult for Hookites to picture what is going on in Chad. Since we started we have had a number of new members and regular attendees, and the danger is we just assume they know what we are talking about when we mention the Dadjo project. So we have to work hard at our communications: with prayer and regular updates in services; newsletters etc. One other great benefit has been when workers from Chad have visited the church to share what is going on.
What about encouragements?
There’s a real thrill to be part of a local church that is prayerfully and practically active in seeking to extend God’s kingdom in a place where it is not yet recognised, being involved in pioneer stuff amongst an unreached people group. We firmly believe the interest in a people group without the Bible or a church has kept the need of the unevangelised high on our agenda. It’s also great to see so much progress being made in so little time. The Dadjo now have their language written down and literature produced. This is a blessing in and of itself just humanly speaking – let alone one day having the scriptures in their own language.
And the future?
We knew our commitment to the project would be long-term. This is a project that will run for many, many years yet – and we need to remind people of this. We expect future visits will be vital for information and encouragement. Finally, we need to trust God’s word that one day we will meet Dadjo people before the throne of the Lamb!
Adapted from InFocus: Hook Evangelical Church in Chad from Wycliffe Bible Translators’ Words for Life magazine. If your church may be interested in supporting a project through InFocus, visit www.wycliffe.org.uk/infocus