Carelinks | Mayotte
The Gospel is to spread into all the earth, and then shall the Lord come. “The isles of the gentiles” are certainly responding and the true Gospel is getting into every nook and cranny of the earth. In May we were contacted by a Congolese refugee who attended a Christadelphian ecclesia in a refugee camp in Africa and there read Bible Basics in French. The camp was a dead end, and so he joined other desperate refugees who made the very dangerous voyage from the coast of Africa to the tiny island of Mayotte. This island belongs to France and is in fact a Departement of France, using the euro and under French law and control. It’s a tiny island situated in the Indian ocean.
Suzanna, Diane and Nicholas with Duncan before their baptisms
We spoke to David extensively by telephone, via WhatsApp and Skype, and it became clear that he understood the basic doctrines of the Gospel and wished to be baptized, along with others there on Mayotte. To this end, trips have taken place and we have been able to baptise David, Paul, Selemani, Saveri, Bileale, Nicholas, Suzanna and Diane.
We did the baptisms on the beach near to where they had arrived after a perilous journey by dugout canoe from the Comoros Islands, where they had arrived by boat from Tanzania. Hearing their confessions of faith and praying with them afterwards was a deeply spiritual experience where surely was the presence of the Lord Jesus. We reflected upon God’s grace and His special purpose with them. Bodies of those who drown when the canoes capsize regularly wash up on the very beach where we did the baptisms, to be put in body bags and taken away by the authorities.
They continue in good spirits spiritually, reading the Bible daily and breaking bread weekly, with an exhortation provided by Bro Phil Martin from the UK. They are very committed to Bible doctrine and absolutely genuine in their love of the Truth.
But life for them on this tiny island is very hard. They will not be deported as they have no documents, but neither can they work there, so they are stranded. They get no support from the Government and resources are at a premium. Everything is very expensive as it has to be flown in and there is very little land. This is but an outcrop of black rock in the ocean with no soil much for agriculture, no natural resources and little housing. Many people are just living on the streets or behind a piece of corrugated iron which they call their ‘door’. We are renting a room for them which at least has a roof. They spend their days trying to do odd jobs, but there is huge discrimination and racism against them. The status of Mayotte is still unclear, as it only recently became part of France. The pressure on resources is so heavy and life so unpleasant there, that many ‘French French’ are simply going to France. It’s hard to get staff to run the local administration, and the only hospital sometimes shuts down simply due to a lack of staff. They have been promised residency permits, which theoretically will allow them to get to France proper [‘France metropole’]. But it’s so very difficult to work out their legal status with this. We had three meetings with the immigration police in both Mayotte and in Paris. Sisters Sarah and Sonia have been a huge help with phoning and trying to find information. It does seem that medium term our brothers and sisters have a good chance, humanly speaking, let alone with the power of prayer, to get off this awful island. They are hungry... grateful to find a banana on a tree to eat. There are clothes provided by various organizations, but basic food for survival is a huge issue.
They have a baby amongst them. Diane was raped on the Comoros Islands before the group fled. She isn’t lactating so they need baby milk. She was so grateful for the baby milk which has been sent by brothers and sisters and has recorded a very touching message of thanks to all who are supporting them in various ways. It’s in French, and you can hear it by following the link below.
We tried to brighten up the room we rent for them with a 2019 Creation Calendar, open at the page with the penguin on it, seeing it is so hot there, over 40 degrees at that time. But it is a very depressive and hard, hard existence for them from day to day and truly only through patience and comfort of the Scriptures do they have hope.
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It’s always a joy when converts preach and then baptize contacts themselves, and in December our brothers and sisters were able to baptize Andala, pictured below, and hope to baptize some more soon Lord willing.
It is with great joy that we report that bro Nicolas has managed to leave Mayotte and is now in Lille, France. We hope and pray that the others will soon follow.