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Tillie Tiller

My Story

Tillie (the nickname stuck) grew up attending church. In the late 60’s, as a teenaged “hippie wanabe”, she tried to ignore the gospel message that she heard each Sunday. Through the ministry of Young Life, that resistance finally gave way and she became a believer. As a new Christian, she was interested in missions because it sounded adventurous, or compassionate, but she had no understanding of the Biblical basis of missions.

After the University of Arizona, with a degree in Animal Science and Agricultural Education, she spent several years gaining a variety of agricultural work experience. At a missions conference, a scriptural presentation of missions appealed to her both logically and emotionally. She started preparing to be a missionary at that time by obtaining a certificate from the Graduate division of what is now called Columbia International University. After a year’s teaching experience and more work experience and then she made a commitment to career service in Chad. Learning French and Chadian Arabic were further preparation, both of which, she uses on any given day.

Tillie’s varied experience in the beef and dairy industry gave her a natural affinity for the Arab herdsmen whose lives revolved around their livestock—cattle, sheep, goats, and camels. She spent years in an itinerant ministry visiting camps of nomadic and semi-sedentary Arabs.

During her first term, she did have a small cattle project that she enjoyed and she would have liked to have continued, but the project had fulfilled its purpose. She had entry into the Arab culture and the one-on-one friendship ministry, to a growing number of contacts, was more important than a project.

The ethnic difference between the Sub-Saharan Christian population in southern Chad and the Muslim population in northern Chad is a chasm likened to the Grand Canyon. Tillie collaborated with the Church in Chad to encourage cross-cultural communication for Christians that come in contact with Muslims.

One term, still a TEAM missionary, she was on loan to Africa Inland Mission as a TIMO leader. (Training in Ministry Outreach) The team consisted of 8 adults and 4 children, including one African family. Many teams don’t work, but this team’s example of working through issues was a much more powerful testimony than Tillie ever had as a single “lone ranger” missionary. The way the Africans and the North Americans learned from each other in a team situation was more effective than just individual interactions.

The TIMO team experience, a relatively simple lifestyle, the undiminished pioneer spirit, and a successful history of partnering with the Church, has equipped Tillie to open up a new ministry along the eastern border of Chad near Sudan when she returns in 2014. Darfur Refugee camps are on a two year schedule to be “declassified” by the UN, as are the IDP camps. (Internally Displaced Peoples.) Priorities upon moving to the area will be to establish a guest house in order to receive short term teams. These teams may for English camps, IT camps, or sports camps. Dental and Medical teams are possible as well as Eye clinics. A male Chadian social worker, aware that he is not able to treat the women rape victims, has requested a team of women counselors. Getting to know the officials in the area and gaining their trust is essential because our simple lifestyle will seem strange after the daily cargo planes that have supplied first the Peacekeepers and then the UN humanitarian machine.


Primary Prayer Request:

Money has been flooded into this area for more than a decade. Dependence and expectation of these funds is unwavering. In the past, projects started by expats, even easily sustainable ones, rarely last beyond 3 or 4 years after the handover. However, projects originating from creative and influential individuals within the community have a visible success rate. Pray for contact with a local individual with creative and persuasive influence with whom to collaborate.

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