God is Vividly at Work

By Rachel S.

Our forth day of house visits was the most difficult, but the most transformational. A few members of our team were, in a small way, persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ as their savior. We are all safe and rejoicing that God was still victorious and kept us safe. It gave us a glimpse of the persecution Jesus went through during his time on earth.  
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His Power and Glory

By Rachel H:
Some of you may know that for a long time, I have wanted to see a demon being cast out.

 

However, over the last few months, I realized that I wanted to see this miracle for all the wrong reasons-I thought it would be kind of neat to see, an interesting story to tell afterwards. I didn’t have God’s glory as the priority for seeing this miracle, which is probably why I never saw it happen on past trips.

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A Day of Beauty

By Jessica:

Today we drove 20 minutes from our hotel near the Gumuz area to the Hadia Tribe. It’s incredible how, just a few miles away, God paints a different picture of beauty in both physical disposition and culture. 
 

The Gumuz people from yesterday’s visit were very dark skinned, almost purple. With flawless complections, high cheek bones and huge smiles, I found myself staring in awe–probably just as much as they were staring at me. 

 

The Hadia tribes were a bit lighter skinned, less full faces, and just as gorgeous. They all had pearcing, curious and deeply profound eyes. God says the eye is the lamp of the body. Even though we could not speak each other’s languages, the joy in their eyes captivated me. 

 

Unlike the Gumuz’ circular huts, the Hadia’s had square houses made of mud and grass. The architecture and craftsmanship was outstanding, knowing that they were all made by hand. Some houses even had multiple rooms. 

 

The hospitality of these people was beyond comparison. They would carry out every piece of furnature, including tables and cooking utensils, from the house just for us to sit down. 

 

We walked through incredible, lush gardens, papaya and mango trees, flowers, corn stalks and clay to get from house to house. According to western culture, these people had “nothing”… but in actuality they had everything. 

 

An old man heard the gospel and accepted Jesus at the first house, and followed us to the remaining three houses to hear it again and again. At each house, his gaze was equally as strong, as if he heard the message for the first time. I admired his devotion and wondered what he was thinking. He explained that his wife had just passed, and he was a proud father of two girls. He carried years of smile lines on his face, and today looked deeply pensive, as if he was pondering creation itself. 

 

Our lives are so fast paced in the States. Sometimes we can hardly spare a full lunch break, let alone an entire afternoon to hang out with “faringi,” or strangers. This man had no problem dedicating his day to us. 

 

At our 4th house, the clouds rolled in. Rain was coming. A young girl quickly bagged corn that had been drying in the sun, and we said our goodbyes.

 

As we ran to the 5th house, it started raining… then pouring. Immediately our arms were being tugged and we were quickly led into a house for shelter…. the very first house we visited that day. 

 

This family whipped out chairs, made sure we were comfortable and then opened the doors for any neighbors who were also caught in the rain. Soon the living room was full of 20 people, all who we had met earlier. 

 

I’ve always loved thunder storms. I think they’re one of the most awe-filled expressions of God’s power. Today, a thunder storm brought two nations together in a teeny grass-hut living room. 

 

If you’ve never heard rain on a tin roof in Africa, it’s like New Year’s Eve as a 12-year-old with pots and pans. Loud, chaotic, and amazing.

 

We brought our chairs to the outside and watched the rain from the porch. It kept us together and deepened the trust we had built earlier that day. It was as if God commanded us to share his word–then prove it! Love your God, love your neighbor. And that’s exactly what happened.

 

If I ever find my way back to the Haidia tribe in northern Ethiopia, I know I’ll have a place to stay.
We’ve all heard, “God works in mysterious ways.” Today he brought an old man to faith who just couldn’t get enough. He sent a thunderstorm to join strangers under one tin roof with a few chairs and a pad of stickers. He let me experience my very first coffee ceremony with incense, loads of sugar and an ancient crop that has fed this land for centuries. He broke language barriers and let us commune like old friends–not like people from two different nations. He brought laughter, trust, and love. And the greatest was love. 

Angels are Rejoicing

By Bill:

“Salvation has come to this house today.” Just as Jesus proclaimed those words when Zacchaeus welcomed Him into his home and life, so we have proclaimed those words in homes throughout Gumuz, Ethiopia the past two days.Ethiopians are hungry for the Gospel and the forgiveness of Christ. That is so refreshing. It is not that way in America. What a blessing to be used by God to bring the message and love of Christ to these beautiful people.

 

At one home, as we shared the Gospel to a woman suffering from malaria, many neighbors were standing around and listening. They all heard the message of Jesus and prayed for Him to come into their hearts. I told them that the Bible says, “When one sinner repents and turns to Jesus, the angels rejoice in heaven.” I told them that today salvation has come to this house and the angels are having a party in heaven. Then, I said we should rejoice on earth as well – we should dance and celebrate. Our translator then began to sing and dance and laughter filled the air. At one home, a Catholic man accepted Jesus as there was thunder in the air. I told him that perhaps the thunder was the noise of angels rejoicing in heaven.

  

We simply offer the Gospel and love then with Christ, but it is God who saves. My prayer is that what ver we do on earth, especially here in Ethiopia, will cause great rejoicing in heaven, and that the joy of heaven will be experienced here on earth.

The Lord’s Plan

By Jax:

The trip is a great trip. The best part is that I have the opportunity to share Jesus with the other people who are the same as us. They make me feel good and they make coffee to honor us. The only problem is that one house did not accept Jesus Christ the Lord so we pray for them. Yesterday some of the best things was that ten people had accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior! I love that day when I have the opportunity to share with the people of my God….the Lord who loves!!! God is good! I’m so so so much blessed by the Lord! GOD IS GOOD!!! The Lord put me on the right path to share with people that God does not have to be feared… He has to be loved as He has loved us.

Not a Cheesy Christian Movie

By Matt:

If you wanted to read a heartbreaking or miraculous story, I am sorry because this won’t be it. I really wish it was though. It would be cool to have some story that could one day turn into one of those cheesy Christian movies that that everyone pretends to like but no one really does. Perhaps that experience may happen for me on this trip but no such experience occurred on my first day in the village.

 
However, that doesn’t at all mean today wasn’t amazing. And looking back at it and hearing the stories of the other team members, it definitely was a great day. The first three homes Dave and I visited had new people believe in Jesus and the heads of the other homes we entered were already following Christ. For the homes with Christians, we were able to tell them stories from Bible and talk about the stories with them. We also got to pray for each family we visited with and passed out gifts and supplies to help each household. 
Yet as we left the homes of these people, I had a weird mixture of emotions. I was happy that they said they were going to trust in Jesus (or that they already were following him) but I also felt like we were leaving them before we really got to know and care for them. And given the double translation from English to Amharic to the language of the Gumuze people, I wondered if they truly understood what we told them in our short time with them. I left asking myself if we actually made a difference.

 
If that last question is to be answered yes, it is really because of the work God will do through the disciple makers that accompany us as we visit the homes. I take comfort knowing that all the concerns I had will be addressed by the disciple makers. They will be the ones following up with the villagers, caring for them and helping them grow in a sincere and true faith. To allude to the parable of the sower, all we are doing is throwing out the seeds of the gospel because for whatever reason the Ethiopian people are more receptive to Americans. We are just seed sowers and while it is a very important role, anyone who has ever tried growing a plant from a seed knows that it is also the easiest job. It is Mesfin and his team of disciplemakers that do all the hard work to ensure that those seeds are firmly rooted in good soil so that they do not wither away but instead grow up to be fruit bearing believers. They truly are the ones that God is working through.

 
Before the trip, my prayer requests focused on our team and the people we would be sharing with. And after day one in the homes, I am completely aware of how misinformed and self centered I was in this request. While I am not going to say to stop praying for us, I do ask that you shift your focus in your prayers to praying for both the people of Ethiopia AND the disciple makers. Pray that God would keep the disciple makers safe and that God would grant them the perserverance to effectively and lovingly minisister to these new believers in the years to come. And when this trip is over for us, please remember that the people who came to Christ on this trip are more than numbers we report back and that they need your prayers more than ever as they begin their new walk with God. Thank you all for support and for your continued support of the disciple makers and people of Ethiopia!

Heartwarming Experiences

By Marie: 

On Friday, our second day in Ethiopia, we flew an hour north from Addis to Bahir Dar. We had an absolutely amazing day learning about and loving on new Ethiopian friends.
Our first stop was to Women at Risk aka “Cherry’s” to visit with 10 ladies who had left prostitution and were turning their lives around by God’s grace. We shared the Bible story about the widow’s offering (Mark 12) and asked them application questions. Their answers were deep and profound, for possibly hearing the story for the first time. Most had plans to share the story that evening with their mothers, friends, and family.The hugs and kisses we gave were genuine as were their beautiful smiles in return.
Our next stop was to The Breakfast Club where we met 24 year old American Alyssa and “her kids.” Alyssa started The Breakfast Club two years ago after visiting Bahir Dar several times and being broken by malnurished children. She now feeds 35 children breakfast each morning and provides them tutoring and a snack every afternoon. For most of them, this is the only food they will eat each day. The children were full of joy and energy. Their faces shined and they were healthy. Alyssa lives part time in Bahir Dar and part time in Temecula, CA. (If you live near Temecula, go to the Farmers Market on Wednesday evening or Saturday mornings beginning in mid October and purchase a pie from Alyssa’s business Lazy Daisy….all proceeds go to support The Breakfast Club.)
Our last stop was a Fistula Clinic where women who developed a fistula during childbirth can go for physical and psychological healing. These women have been ostricized in their villages and cast out and treated like lepers in the Bible. We had the opportunity to put scarves around their heads, hug them, visit with them with our limited vocabulary, laugh together and love on them. Many were sweet, shy young women. This was such a heart warming experience to love on these previously unloved ladies. 

I Can Trust Him to Provide

By Allison:

Yesterday, our first day in Ethiopia, we visited Women at Risk, a ministry that helps prostitutes get off the street. Erin asked me to lead an I Am Second study while we were with the women. An I Am Second discussion starts with the telling of a Bible story. I chose the feeding of the five thousand. After telling the story we ask several discussion questions, and a couple people are asked to repeat the story. The final two questions are, “How will you live differently after hearing this story?” and “Who will you tell this story to?”

Hands shot up around the room as the women were eager to share how they wanted to live the way God calls us, and they named friends and family members they could share this story with. I can’t help but thing about all the times I hear something God has done but then keep it to myself. These women couldn’t wait to share.

 
When we were here in April this particular group of women had just entered the program. What a difference six months makes. This was not the same group of timid women I remember from April. These women now know their true identity, who they are in Christ. They know they are loved and that God sees them as whole.
I’ve heard and told the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand countless times. The insights and perspectives these women brought up during our discussion blew me away. I think every member of our team can agree that we learned something new during this study.

 
The woman sitting next to me said, “When I was in prostitution I was making a lot of money. God took the fish and bread and fed the entire crowd. I can trust Him to provide for me. I may never again make a lot of money, but I can live a life that honors Him. He will bless me and provide.”

 
We were there to minister to this group of women, but I’m pretty sure we were the ones who were ministered to. What a privilege it is to see the work the Lord is doing in the lives of these women.