Esther and three of her children as
well as her three grandchildren live at the Mongo protestant
mission. Esther is somewhere between 45 and 50 years old.
She works very hard in her fields and at home. She is peaceful
and gentle, and has a warm smile. She became a widow in 1987
when her husband, her first son and several other men from the region
were taken away by the army of the former president to be killed.
We are sitting on straw mats in the courtyard of her house while she
tells the story of her life. She was cleaning her millet as she
spoke to us in Moukoulou. She also speaks Chadian Arabic.
What a joy it
is for me to tell the story of my life. I was born in Moukoulou
village. At that time, we lived in the mountains to avoid the
slave traders who came from the Northeast. I was born in the
time of the great famine. Because there was nothing to eat, we
ate leaves. My father went all the way to Saudi Arabia on foot
to look for work, accompanied by his friends. I was nine years
old when he returned.
My father worshipped idols. He had two
wives. I also worshipped the idol whose name was Ra. He
was the god of the rain. The god Ra was on the mountain in his
house and every year we were obliged to rebuild it. At the
beginning of the rainy season we made a sacrifice of goats and
bili-bili (millet beer). Almost every kind of snake could be
found in his house. The god Ra communicated with his worshippers
through a woman, a priestess who had what was called
"vision." I have never had vision of this sort and I
knew nothing of it even though I had worshipped the idol since my
childhood until I had children of my own.
In those days there were also rebels who
would arrest people. Our Chief of the Land was also
arrested. It was during the rainy season. He was taken to
Bitkine, a town not too far from there. It did not rain while he
was gone. The people thought it did not rain because he was
gone. Thus the Regional Chief went to get him. The rain
was falling as they were returning. Everyone was wet except for
our Chief of the Land. Then it stopped raining. The people
saw this as a sign and the Chief of the Land sought to understand why
he had been arrested.
My sister who was a priestess wanted to do me
harm. This is why she told me that I had "vision" and
had kept the rain from falling. I was then arrested by the Chief
of the Land. They tied me up before beating me. But it did
not rain. If they had beaten my sister, the god Ra would have
seen the suffering of his daughter and sent rain.
I devoted myself to the Lord but the problems
of before were still there. I was true to my faith. But my
parents disowned me. I was committed to my husband and to the
other brothers in Christ. My family also mistreated my husbands
as they had mistreated me. I found refuge in my Saviour in the
middle of my difficulties. The missionary who was in Moukoulou
made an agreement with the missionary of Mongo and we were able to
work in Mongo. It was the beginning of 1974 that we came to live
and work in Mongo at the mission station there. I know that God
sees those who suffer for His sake. He miraculously helped me
throughout my difficulties. All those who harmed me are all
dead. The Chief of the Land was killed by a bolt of lightning
while he was working in his field. But to this day I am not
allowed to touch the children of my close relatives in the village.
I had eight children, five of which are boys
and three of which are girls. Four of them are dead. Now,
I have two boys and two girls. My husband died in 1987.
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