"G od of love, God Provider. We had lost everything and, lo and behold, we have received a lot.” These are the words of a village chief in West Africa, thanking Barnabas Aid for the emergency relief aid given to thousands of Christians following devastating flooding in the region.
More than 6,000 families (over 29,000 individual Christians) received assistance in Chad and neighbouring Cameroon after the rivers Chari and Logone, which run between the two countries, burst their banks following the heaviest rains in more than 30 years.
At the time of writing, further Barnabas-funded aid was being distributed among another 1,000 Christian families (around 5,000 individuals) in Chad.
The damage inflicted in southern Chad and the Far North of Cameroon in October 2022 was catastrophic. Tens of thousands of people were forced from their homes, leaving behind their submerged crops. Livestock upon which many families depended for their livelihoods were lost beneath the rising waters.
The floods were yet another blow to Christians on both sides of the rivers, many of whom were already suffering because of repeated attacks on their communities by Islamist militants.
Flooding follows deadly terror attacks in Chad
In Chad, many Christians were struggling to recover and rebuild following a jihadi assault on seven villages in which 50 people were killed and many more wounded. The terrorists set fire to hundreds of homes, grain stores and five church buildings.
Then came the floods, and several of the homes that survived the terrorists’ attacks were destroyed by the extreme weather. In some areas the level of the water was up to the chest of a tall adult, a church leader told Barnabas, and the only way to move from one village to another was by canoe.
The distribution of 50kg bags of maize to Christian families was overseen by church leaders, ensuring the aid reached those most in need.
In the first two phases of the distribution in Chad, a total of 3,012 families (an estimated 16,800 people) were reached. The same amount is being given to 1,000 families in Phase 3.
Our church partner said that Chadian Christians across the country rejoiced when they heard about the arrival of aid in flood-hit areas. “People were happy that Christians in other lands thought of them,” he said. “People praised God and thanked Barnabas for coming to help them even though they were in remote areas not known to the world.”
Christians rejoice in Cameroon as aid arrives
There was great rejoicing also among Christians in Far North Cameroon when the aid was delivered to 3,082 families (an estimated 12,400 people). Each household received on average 50kg of maize or millet, as well as two litres of bleach and six pieces of soap to help combat the spread of waterborne diseases.
“A great Christian witness resounded in all the localities where the various distributions took place”
“A great Christian witness resounded in all the localities where the various distributions took place,” our Cameroon church partners told us. There were “joys of thanksgiving on all sides”, they added.
Christian widow Naomie, whose husband died four years ago, supports her children by collecting firewood in the bush to sell at market, although the money she receives for the bundles is very small. She was overwhelmed to receive the aid funded by Barnabas supporters.
“Oh God, your kindness is immense!” she exclaimed. “Keep blessing these donors. Even if I have to go to the bush a hundred times, I cannot save to buy the quantity of millet that I received today.”
Christians in the area live with the constant threat of attack from Boko Haram Islamist militants. In January 2023 alone there were ten assaults in which six men were killed, churches were attacked and homes burned.
Barnabas has previously provided food and other practical aid for Christian victims of terrorist violence in Cameroon, including funding the start-up costs for small business ventures (Barnabas Aid, January/February 2023, p.5). The latest assistance, however, focused on people in need because of flooding.
A pastor thanked God and Barnabas for sending help to flood victims. “Today I understood that God is a God of miracles,” he declared.
He said he was “full of emotion” to discover 60 bags of grain waiting to be distributed to Christians in need in the store of his church. “God is great and wonderful,” he added. “God bless you and bless the donors.”
Project references: PR1587 (Food and basic needs for Christians in Chad); 00-634 (Disaster relief fund)