Preaching the gospel in villages and cities
Togo and Chad—the journey the Chief Apostle is just about to set out on will take him to two interesting but dangerous regions of the world. There are terrorist alerts in both countries.
Togo is situated in western Africa. It is a long, narrow country and extends northward from the Gulf of Guinea for about 515 kilometres. The annual mean temperature now in January is 35 degrees Celsius. Togo is multi-ethnic state, but the Ewe make up 40 per cent of the population and are the largest group. Thirty-nine languages are spoken in the country. French is the official language and is understood throughout the country.
Children in distress
The country’s capital is Lomé, and it is here that Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider will be celebrating a divine service on 15 January 2017. The congregation will be large. At the end of 2015, about 44,000 Christians belonged to the New Apostolic Church. There are 338 congregations, which are cared for by about one thousand ministers. Two local Apostles and Bishops work in the country. The organisational aspects of the Church in the country are supervised by the New Apostolic Church Southern Germany.
For years now, the greater part of the population of nearly seven million has been struggling to survive. Togo is a small country, and only about 25 per cent of the land is arable. Unemployment, especially in the few urban centres, is high. Many young Togolese are leaving the country. Even so, the country’s population is young: half the people are under 16. Child trafficking is one of the country’s most urgent problems. The national capital, Lomé, is the hub for the international trade with child slaves. The fight against this crime has been on the agenda of the international community for years.
From Togo to Chad
In Chad too, it is the youngest who suffer the most: here it is the extensive recruitment of child soldiers, the negative example of mankind’s collective failure. Some foreign ministries are still issuing travel alerts to Chad. The fight against Boko Haram and other extremist groups is ongoing.
Chad is a landlocked country in north-central Africa. Its capital, N’Djamena, has a population of more than 700,000. There are about 200 ethnic groups in the country, each with own language and culture. The official languages are Arabic and French.
Half a country of sand
Geographically, the country is a huge basin that is surrounded by high mountains. Some 90 per cent of the land surface, about 2.5 million square kilometres, is occupied by the Chad basin. Much of the country’s northern part lies in the Sahara. In fact, about 50 per cent of the country is sand.
There is an abundance of wildlife—large mammals—that one automatically associates with Africa, although the population numbers are decreasing. The country is struggling with environmental problems. In addition to the extinction of rare species, the country has to cope with deforestation and desertification.
Three days, three regions, three divine services
The New Apostolic Church in Chad has been developing well for years. Apostle John Sobottka of Canada and the local Apostle Dakoua Nadjikouma are responsible for the work in the country. There are 475 congregations, which are cared for by more than 2,200 ministers. About 20,000 members regularly attend the divine services.
District Apostle Helper Sobottka says: “The Chief Apostle’s visit will be the highlight of the decade. He plans to celebrate three divine services with us—in three days and in three different regions of the country.” He will be in Sarh, the third largest city in Chad; in Dokoh, a village in the south of the country, near Koumra; and in N’Djamena, the country’s capital in the south-west. The service in Dokoh will be an open-air service.