The Body of Christ

By Brendan

We say it all the time in Church, but we rarely ponder it, at least I don’t. We often wonder how to do church better or how to grow our church body. But yesterday I was given an opportunity to participate with the body of Christ, with parts I had never met. I know many members on the side of the body I live on, down near the shin, but meeting these other parts across the body was a gift. I’ll tell you what I saw, open eyes, listening ears, anticipant mouths, and ready hands and feet.
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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. 

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. 

September 2016: Field Day 5

By Allison Johnson:

Yesterday (Friday) we were told to go to one house and then go where the spirit lead us. We were at the first house when my mother decided to let Melissa share the gospel. We didn’t know that they were already Christians. While Melissa was sharing the gospel a little Ethiopian girl came and stood a few feet away from me. While she stood there she looked at me draw. Once I saw her I motioned her to come. Once she did I picked her up into my lap. Once the gospel was over and we knew that they were already christians, she got up and went inside. Then I went to sit by my mother.

Then my mother told Melissa to do an I am Second story. While Melissa was doing an I am Second story I played with the kids. I taught them how to draw and they taught me what they knew.

After Melissa’s I am Second story we went inside for coffee. There was a man who couldn’t walk because his foot was broken. So after coffee we prayed for him. Then we left and started walking.

Right when we walked by the school, school got out. There were probably fifty kids who crowded us and started walking with us. A few minutes later, Mesfin told the children to sit down. Then he told me to share the gospel. I shared the gospel to all of the kids. Then once I was done we figured out they were all Christians.

Then we went to another house to share an I Am Second story to encourage their faith. Then we started walking to the meeting place. On the way we saw a donkey cart. Mesfin asked the man if we could ride it and he said yes. So we rode the donkey cart the rest of the way to the meeting place. Once we got to the meeting place we waited.

Then we went back to the hotel. After about one hour we got back in the van. We drove the van to a place called Paradise Lodge.

When we got there we saw that there was a massage place, a swimming pool, a cool playground and a bunch of other cool stuff. We went to go have dinner. I got a coke. There also was a buffet. There was so much food that I almost was able to try them. After dinner there was ice cream. Three flavors: chocolate, vanilla and strawberry. I chose chocolate and it was delicious.

After dessert we went to the playground. It was the best playground ever. There was a trampoline, a seesaw and a (you know the teacups at disneyland? it was similar to that). There were also the best swing sets ever. I can’t even explain how cool it was. That was only half. The other half I can’t even explain.

After 15 minutes of playground, we went to a really big room. In that room we did a team meeting. A little bit into the team meeting we did communion. We had crackers for bread and the weirdest drink.

That was pretty much my day.

September 2016: Field Day 4 (as well)

By Nancy Evanston

THE BIG PICTURE AND A DIVINE APPOINTMENT

Maybe you have been somewhere like the Grand Canyon. You want to capture its immense beauty and grandeur so you take a picture only to be disappointed because it doesn’t come close to what you just saw and experienced. This is how I feel when I am trying to write about my time here in Ethiopia.

 

 

 

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Because it rains intermittently there, the landscape is beautiful, only a picture God could create.

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The poverty is none that you can imagine unless you are here with the children begging at you constantly, but there is generosity and hospitality in the huts and hearts of these believers. One Christian woman shared 4 types of food, all delicious, that she had prepared beforehand. We shared about sex trafficking and the gospel with her neighbors. One grandmother responded that this was “good what we shared” because her son was taken away. The husband of the home asked us to pray a blessing for him to be strong in his faith and persevere because they are persecuted for faith in Christ. This region is steeped in Ethiopian Orthodox and many walk away when you share that “Jesus is the way, the truth and the life and no one can come to God except through him.” Please pray for Alum, Amaritch and their 3 children.

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Today we had the unexpected opportunity to go to a funeral procession and service of a Christian woman. It was an honor to be there. David, one of our team members, spoke an amazing gospel message for the unbelievers and also encouraged the believers. My heart was overflowing with joy as the Holy Spirit empowered David to speak the truth with boldness and compassion. We trekked miles to visit small numbers of villagers the past few days, yet David spoke to literally hundreds today. While it was an unexpected opportunity for us, we know it was a divine appointment from God.

God has encouraged many believers and we have witnessed others come to new faith in Christ. Many seeds of truth and hope in Jesus were planted this past week. Ears were so attentive to our human trafficking message. Someday when we meet Jesus we will clearly see the big picture of all that has transpired this week. I can’t wait to see my Ethiopian brothers and sisters in Christ then. For now you will have to settle for this snapshot. To God be the glory!

September 2016: Field Day 4

By Dave Helfrick

Thursday

A time for mourning.

I’ve taken 4 trips to Ethiopia now. I would never say I’ve experienced it all, not even close. Today, though, I added a new experience I never expected to have, particularly in Ethiopia. I spoke at the funeral of an Ethiopian grandmother. I’ll call her Betty.

After breakfast this morning, Tom came to my room and said we had an opportunity to speak at a local funeral, and also to present the gospel. Betty died yesterday, and there was to be many, many people coming to the funeral. Betty was a believer, but many of those attending are not. Sharing the gospel here would be a chance to share with more folks than we have the entire week to date.

I wish I could tell you that my heart leapt at the thought, and that I said through Christ I can do all things. If only. I did say yes, however, and I did know that the Holy Spirit would guide me. In fact, after I had prepared on the way, during the service I began to become nervous, maybe even fearful, that I would mix up my notes, or forget them altogether.

And THEN IT HAPPENED. A Scripture came to mind, and I knew the Spirit had given it to me for this very time. Immediately after, I relaxed and knew that “God’s got this.” The Scripture was “when you stand before men, do not worry about what you will say or how to say it. You will be given what to say, and it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit speaking through you.”

While that verse is taken slightly out of context, nonetheless I knew that message was for me at that moment. From then on, I was confident knowing I had prepared as much as I could, and that the Spirit would lead me. During the time I spoke (through an interpreter of course), I forgot to say some things I had planned, and I said some things that I hadn’t even thought of till I began to speak. At the end of this, one man whom I will call Adam, professed his faith in Jesus. I will likely never see Adam again on a trip, but I will see him again one day. One glorious day.

-Dave