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I have had some dialog with American friends of mine who are serving as missionaries in Chad, Africa. Their stories of escape from rebel forces were unbelievale to hear. My friend Paul had to gather his wife and five kids and both run and drive through back bush roads and trails to escape and get into neighboring Cameroon. They were almost caught and killed on several occassions. Listening to stories like this made me even more grateful for the country we live in. If you so choose, please keep these people in your prayers as they have lost many of their possessions and many years of work has been greatly affected.

Here was a little information about what was going on over there as reported by Lydia Polgreen of the International Herald...

As dawn arrived for the second consecutive day in Ndjamena without a grim soundtrack of bullets and bombs, people hesitantly trickled out of hiding and onto the dusty streets of the capital Wednesday, searching for food, water, fuel and news. But little of any of these were on offer. Most shops remained shuttered, except the many that had been burned or picked clean by looters amid the fighting.

"We are all hungry and there is nothing in the market," said a woman named Pauline Bagamla who was scooping water out of a city fountain, hoping to find some rice or manioc to cook in it. "I am hoping someone brings us something to eat."

Those who ventured out for the first time since the fighting began on Saturday found a ruined city. The mirrored glass facade of a government building known as the People's Palace was a jagged grimace of menacing shards. Bullet holes pitted the offices of the nation's top court and its Ministry of Mines. Even Unicef, the United Nations agency for children, did not escape unscathed: Its offices were looted.

A trickle of people returning to Ndjamena across the two bridges connecting Cameroon to Chad turned into a steady stream by afternoon. The United Nations said about 20,000 people had fled the fighting, and about half were living out in the open near the Cameroonian border town of Kousséri. The conditions were so miserable many took their chances and went home.

"We could not find anywhere to sleep, so what could we do," said Martine Nailibi, who was crossing back to Chad from Cameroon, followed by a gaggle of nine barefoot children, each toting a pot or pan, blanket or bundle. "We just pray the fighting does not start again."

The city's hospitals were full of bullet-riddled patients, many of whom had waited days to seek medical attention. At one hospital, a young woman arrived in the back of a taxi, barely conscious and wrapped in cloth. She had been wounded several days earlier in the fighting, said Dr. Claire Rieux of the aid group Doctors Without Borders.

"Now there is a very serious risk of infection," Rieux said. "Many were too afraid to come."

After days of defending the presidential palace from a rebel assault, Chad's army demonstrated its firm grip on the capital Wednesday by sending truckloads of soldiers bristling with automatic weapons and rocket propelled grenades racing through the city at top speed. Among them were soldiers that appeared to be children.

At one checkpoint, a boy whose voice had not yet broken sat atop a pickup truck, his gun barely taller than he was, his red beret a loose fit on his small head.

"He is 9," one of the other soldiers said with a laugh. "No, he is 14."

Asked if the boy had seen combat, his older compatriot grabbed his automatic weapon and smiled, saying, "He can handle this and heavy weapons too."
 

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