April 2016: Stuck & Going Nowhere…

After a tasty breakfast, we headed out to meet a house church that would be expecting us. Full of anticipation, we could hardly wait, as this was our first house church visit since we had been there a year earlier. We were making such good time in our 4 wheel drive Land Cruiser that we were certain to be there on time today.

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Not so fast. Our speedy 60 KPH dash down a dirt road came to abrupt stop due to a few other vehicles ahead also stopped. As soon as we opened our doors, we could hear the cacophony of voices surrounding a large truck 300 meters ahead that was unquestionably stuck in the mud.

As our video shows, of the 80 or so people milling about and sounding off about the problem, only maybe 10 were actually putting hands on the truck to try to do something about the situation. No the video does not show the ultimate resolution. You must actually read the story. But before we go to the end, let’s look at a few lessons.

  1. Lots of opinions and little action. Pretty common around the world for people to be quick about chatting it up, but slow in actually fixing stuff. In fairness, this was not an easy one. No tow trucks in this region. Here, things are fixed by ingenuity & sweat.
  2. Not surprisingly, the driver was gunning it, trying to solve his problem alone. Probably a bit embarrassed, after all, he had driven himself into this pickle, he would love to drive himself out. Why do we so often struggle without asking for help. Is this mainly a guy thing?
  3. Sadly, the driver, acting solo,  was digging himself in deeper and eventually the axle and undercarriage were encased in the mud. How often do our actions make things worse, particularly when we are going it alone?
  4. In typical local style, this truck was loaded to to the brim and then some. Is our load too heavy for the conditions? No one seemed to be thinking about lightening the truck load. In fairness I don’t know if there were security concerns or if inherently they felt it was just too hard to get the load off, but it did not seem to even be a consideration. Have you ever found yourself in one of life’s ruts, not able to make forward progress, but unwilling to lay aside some of your load?

Ultimately, our clever driver, Abraham, found a way around the truck, and shortly we were back on the road to our destination with only a 20-minute side show. As we made our way around the disabled truck, we were pleased to see a large 4WD vehicle nosing in from the front. I had fully expected a team of oxen would be required to move the laden truck. We did not stay to watch the final victory, but the empty deep ruts on our return trip were witness to the truck moving on.

We pressed on and met our house church only slightly delayed. It was a most remarkable meeting, but that’s a story for our Sunday report to the church!

April 2016: Post from Cathy: Third Day

As I write this rain is hammering on the tin roof of our hotel room in Fiche. It’s pouring and the Ethiopian people are probably glad for the water to soak their parched land. Ethiopia is an agrarian culture and for the last three days we have been visiting villages, watching out for donkeys,cows, chickens and goats, sidestepping to avoid them. The ground has been dusty and the terrain uneven but each home we have visited has welcomed us in the warmest possible way. The communities are close and you wonder why in America we isolate ourselves when it’s so obvious that the people thrive when the village takes care of each other and looks out for each other. Despite not having much they seem happy and joyful.Acts 4:20 says we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.

What have we seen?

We have seen God go before us. We keep being told that we are entering a hard area for the gospel but each day more and more people are joyfully choosing to place their faith in Jesus. To see God at work is such a privilege. Just yesterday Laurie and I walked a fair distance to a home and we were met by an elderly man and has daughter. We talked to them both about the human trafficking and then presented the gospel. What the man said to Laurie and I after he and his daughter chose to put their faith in Jesus I will treasure always. He thanked us for coming to help him move from the darkness into the light. He blessed us for making the long walk from town to tell us the good news of Jesus that will change his and his daughter’s life forever. I will never forget his countenance , his face lit up with an indescribable joy.

What have we heard?

Each day we have the opportunity to share what has happened on the mission field. I can barely wait for dinner to be over so team meeting can start to hear what God has done that day.

Just today we heard from a team mate that 60 people crammed into a home eager to hear the gospel. The room was so full people were jostling others to be able to see and hear . Wow!
Each day is different and you never know who you are going to tell the gospel to. Just like Philip and his meeting with the Ethiopian official found in the book of Acts, he was told to go south to the desert road down from Jerusalem to Gaza , Philip went not knowing why God wanted him to go or whom he would meet. He was just told to go. His reward for his obedience was to lead the official to the Lord and we get the chance to do the same. Just today , on the way to a house a young man heard me speaking in English and he called out to me. We stopped to talk with him and we invited him to join us on the journey to the house.He listened intently to the gospel message and came to faith. He had many questions like the Ethiopian official and he chose to follow Christ when the translator was able to show him the answer in scripture . He was so filled with the Holy Spirit he started telling others immediately about Jesus.

If you have ever considered going on a mission trip , do it, you will see amazing things and your faith will be strengthened when you witness God at work and the passion of the local Christians who face persecution for their faith and yet it does not stop them from sharing the Light of the World to those in darkness.

April 2016: Post from Barkley: Third Day

On day three Kelly and I along with our translator Habtamu, Disciple maker, and guide started off for our first of five house visits of the day. The trail was full of rocky crags and crevices, leading down narrow, winding gorges and up precarious gradual slopes. You had to intently watch every step less you risk twisting an ankle or tripping over a rock. This was the same trail that the resident cows, goats and sheep taveled so it was littered with their precarious “land mines.” After ninety minutes of this trek in the hot sun we made it to our first house which just happened to be the house of our guide. We were greeted by three of his six children. We were escorted to the side of the house where we saw their chickens. Afterwards we went into the small, dark, mud and straw hut and was ushered to a seat formed from mud clay, molded along the circumfrence of the wall, approximately twelve inches off the floor. There was plastic laid over it in preparation of our arrival. The women of the home immediately began to make a fire in order to prepare coffee for us. This added a choking, smokey ingredient to the small room. We began to ask questions of the family in order to get aquainted with them as well as share information about ourselves. After approximately thirty minutes of conversation. Kelly presented the Priceless Cube to the family who listened intently. The father asked a lot of questions which the translator seemed to thoroughly answer. I followed Kelly’s presentation with the Evangecube and as soon as I stated, “Anyone who is willing to accept Jesus Christ and spend eternity with Him please stand and pray with us,” the Husband, wife and four others in the room quickly stood and gave their hearts to Jesus Christ. We left this home and returned to our trail enroute to our next home. This was repeated over and over throughout the day. By days end a total of fifteen people had accepted the Lord; Praise God! It was at this moment that we realized that whatever discomfort we experienced throughout the day was well worth it. We may never walk this trail and experince these dicomforts again but these people routinely endure this daily. Because of Him,

Barkley

April 2016: Post from Marvin: Third Day

The Ethiopian people in the farming villages of Fiche live simple, hard-working, peaceful lives. Their way of life in many ways has not changed from life in biblical times. Their days are spent working the family farm from sunup to sundown. They walk 40 minutes in some instances to draw water from wells and walk for as many as 2 hours in one direction to buy food and supplies at the market. Family arranged marriages continue as the norm where generations live together in mud-wall huts and communals with thatch roofs. And reminiscent of biblical times, each day this week love manifest itself in acts that provided a flock of chickens to sustain families in need, spoke proverbs of a priceless message to protect & mend children and families, and carried the good news on the feet of 2 and 3 generations of saints to save the lost. Today there is rejoicing in Fiche and in heaven. Selah.

April 2016: Post from Taliah: Third Day

God is truly amazing and has been doing some great and mighty things in the villages of Ethiopia! In one of the homes we were in the middle of sharing the Evangecube when a man walked in and sat down and was intently listening to us as we finished sharing the gospel. When it came time to choose if they wanted Jesus Christ to be Lord of their lives, this man did not accept, but many others in the home did. After we had prayed the prayer of Salvation and given them some tools they could use to continue their walk with the Lord, we said our goodbyes and left the home.

Marela had asked if we could stop for a lunch break and our guide and translator picked out a spot that was in the center of a field that was surrounded by tall grass. The man who had walked in at the end of the Evangecube, along with a couple other people had followed us from the home, and into the field. The group was a few feet away from us and they were having what looked like a very intense conversation. Marela and I decided that it was not a good time for us to eat lunch and instead decided to go over and join them. As we joined them, the conversation continued in their native language of Aromo. We just smiled at them as they continued talking, but then I saw that in the tall grass surrounding the field there were people standing there looking at us from a distance.
Eventually, a few people at a time got the courage to come to where we were sitting in the middle of the field and a crowd formed. The man from the previous house was the main one speaking and occasionally other people would call out and our translator would respond. Our translator then turned to us and said, “They have some questions for you. They want to know, what happens to a baby when he/she dies. Do they go to heaven or are they sent to the fire? And when Adam took a bite of the forbidden apple, did that put a generational curse on man?” Marela and I looked at each other for a moment, these were two important and heavy questions. I began to answer the questions and looked to Marela to ask her if she agreed with the answers and she proceeded to add her thoughts as well. I then looked at the translator and said, “that is our answer.” He then turned to the crowd and translated what we had said, and a few minutes later he turned to us and said, “I will now pray for them!”
Those who had been sitting, stood to their feet joining those who had already been standing. They all held their hands in front of them facing upwards with heads bent and eyes closed, saying the occasional “Amen” as our translator prayed for them. Although I could not understand what our translator was praying, it was the most powerful prayer I had ever heard! After the prayer was finished, we moved on to the next home and some of the crowd from the field followed us. Including the man from the first home, who had asked the two questions.
When we got to the next home we started our Priceless cube and continued on to the Evangecube and this man was intently listening to every word. When it came time to make a decision to follow Christ, he was the first to say, “YES, I choose Jesus Christ, I choose eternal life!” It was the most amazing thing to see! If Marela had not asked for a lunch break at the time she did, his questions would not have been heard or answered. He would not have continued to follow us nor would he have been able to make that decision to follow Christ!
God was so apparent in that whole situation, He had gone before us and perfectly orchestrated every single detail! We serve a mighty mighty God, who is constantly at work in the lives of each and every one of His children at all times! I am so grateful and honored that I was able to be a small part in His bigger plan!

April 2016: Post from Kelly: Second Day

Observing the Ethiopian people has been life changing. Their love for each other, as well as visitors and their community is something one can only be humble by. Not only are you invited into their extremely modest home, but are then given what may be the remainder of their food and water. I can honestly say I’ve never given the last of my food to anyone back in American.
When you go into their churches there are no pews, for they feel they should be humbled in front of God on the floor. But the sight of them holding themselves up with “prayer sticks” because they’ve become too weak from praying for so long is a sight that I will never forget. Have i ever prayed so long that I needed a stick to hold me upright??

I come to a place like this hoping to provide relief, love and encouragement and realize that I’m not here so much to change them, but to change myself.

April 2016: Post from Marela: Second Day

So our first house, we go in there, Barkley and I, and begin to share the priceless cube. Then an older gentlemen walks in carrying a shotgun followed by other men carrying canes and some sort of official-looking cloaks, and sit down right in front of us with suspicious looking stares.

Now I’m thinking, alright, so we won’t get to share the evangecube, but maybe God has a different plan. So we finish telling the priceless cube, (and our guide seemed to me to be very touched by it) and then precede to ask the guy with the gun, who was apparently a “village keeper”, or protector of the village, if he would allow us to tell them of a God who always knows where their children are and is always protecting them.

Me and my human mind was completely expecting a big fat “no”, when God shines His light and the man replies with “sure”. So we eagerly share the Gospel with him and long story short… The village keeper, our guide (who turned out to be the village leader), and everyone else in the room, accepted Christ.

I don’t really have words yet to describe the awe God continues to leave me in, but all I can say is: I am so glad He is running this show and not me!

April 2016: Post from Tom: First Day

Our first day in the villages was exceptional beyond expectations. Thank you to all who are praying for us. The highlight of my day was watching 8 year old Jax Sonnier lead 13 adults to a salvation experience. I marveled at how God used him in hut after hut to lead people in crossing the line of faith.

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Throughout the day I reflected time and again at how at 8 years of age Jax was doing something that most adults have never done. He was openly sharing the Gospel message and people were being drawn by the Holy Spirit to respond. As proud as I was of Jax’s efforts, my feelings paled in comparison to his mother’s, Alison. What a sweet day! Unsure I could have scripted it any better. For good reason, everyone sang loudly tonight at team devotion, Our God is An Awesome God. We saw Him all day today.
Although today was Sunday, we did not go to church. This Sunday we were the church.

April 2016: Post from Allison: First Day

I knew God was going to do amazing things on this trip, but what I didn’t know was how enormous of a blessing it would be to get to be used by Him.  I have an overload of emotions from our first day on the field, and I don’t even know what to share first.

One of my biggest take aways from today is how powerful the Holy Spirit is.  We visited five homes today, and at least a few of the people accepted the Lord in the first four.  As we approached our fifth home I unintentionally judged the couple who met us in the yard.  They seemed stand offish at first which I mistook for disinterest.  In reality, they were a much younger couple than any of the others we had visited, and their quietness was most likely a result of age and inexperience. 

I was quickly convicted of my snap judgement of them as we walked into the hut, and I immediately began praying.  I shared the Priceless Cube, and they listened intently.  Next Jax shared the gospel with them, and I prayed for the Holy Spirit to move in their hearts the entire time he spoke.  When Habtamu, our translator, asked if they would like to accept Christ as their Savior, the husband’s hand shot up into the air rapidly with confidence.  His wife raised her hand as well, and they prayed and asked the Lord to forgive their sins and to come into their lives.

We celebrated together after the prayer, and the joy and transformation on their faces was evident.  I was wrong to think I knew what was going on inside their hearts, and even if they weren’t interested at first, God can change a disinterested heart.  He can change a hardened heart.  Them coming to a life changing belief of Him and His Word had nothing to do with me or my thoughts.  It has everything to do with how powerful His message is.  What a blessing to be able to share the Truth and watch God at work.

April 2016: Post from Laurie: First Day

Who does not want to see the glory of God?  Cathy and I prayed that our translator  would be a believer and love the LORD.  Yesterday we met Milkeso, went over the Priceless and Evangecube as well as all the other necessary procedures we would use on the field.  We had time to spare so I asked him what he would say if he were sharing the gospel with people.  I wanted to get a feel for how he expressed his faith.  It was so wonderful when he shared the words and verses that he uses because I knew we were on the same page.  It was fabulous when he said we would go into the huts/homes with power!  Confirmation that he is led by the Holy Spirit meant EVERYTHING to us.

     Today, our first day going to the villages, after lots of prayer, the three of us and our disciple maker entered our first home.  There were 18 people, one third adults and two thirds children with most of them being teenagers.  All 18 stood to receive Jesus as their Savior.  We think a few of them were already believers but they were great examples to the rest.  Cathy asked them all if they wanted to hear a Bible story.  They said a resounding, “YES”.  So she told the story of Zaccheus.   It was delightful to watch Cathy sharing this story with great animation.  Milkeso, actively got into it so well that Cathy said it was like he was on Broadway!  What a joy.

      The next house belonged to a couple 70 years old who had been married 50 years.  When we shared the information about Human Trafficking that the government had asked us to, the old man turned to the 9 young ladies there and said, “This is for you.”  With a tender voice he spoke to them encouraging them to be aware of what can happen.  It was a beautiful thing to see.  We showed and gave him pictures of our families and he went to the cupboard and gave us EACH very small 1×1 inch photo of him.  HOW PRECIOUS IS THAT?????

      At the house of a mother and 20 year old daughter we were blessed to watch that young woman soak up the information on human trafficking and thank us for it.  After that we shared the Evangecube.  When we asked them if they wanted to make a decision for Christ they both very kindly said no.  You should have seen and heard Milkeso.  He took over and very passionately told the woman what a negative decision would mean for them eternally and what a yes decision would mean for them eternally.  It took a few minutes of questions and answers and then he turned to me and said, “They are ready now”.  What a blessing it was to be used of God to lead them to Himself.  We also could not help praising the LORD for Milkeso’s passion and persistence.  When the women received Christ as their Savior they were so happy and completely knew what they had done.  When I told them they were my new sisters and part of the family of God they understood and were as happy as we were. The older woman hugged us so tight and did not want to let go.   When it was time to leave the village I saw the young lady.  I asked Milkeso how to say “sister” in their language and he said, “Obelito.”  I went to  her and said, “Nagahti, Obelito.”  That means goodbye sister.  She LOVED it and her smile was a big as mine.

      What great joy we had today as the Holy Spirit moved the hearts of the village people…and ours as well.  It is a privilege to work with people whose passion for Christ matches my own.  It’s a gift from God to be invited by Him to share His Gospel with people clear across the world from me…and see them come to Christ.  Our team shared stories today and everyone of them were a demonstration of the majesty of God.  Yes, God answered each of our prayers today.  Thanks to each of you that have been praying.  God’s answers are spectacular.  Please keep praying those effective prayers.  We depend on them.  You are part of our team. To Him be all glory and honor and praise.