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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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!

Becoming Prepared

By Marie:

With less than a month until we leave for Ethiopia, it’s all about preparation mode. Memorizing stories that will change the lives of those we meet, gathering items on the suggested packing list, and getting vaccinated.

Today at the Travel Clinic my African American nurse asked me where I was going. When I told her Ethiopia her response was, “I know nothing about Ethiopia.” I thought her response was odd but smiled and waited as she determined what vaccinations I needed. She then confessed that she was indeed Ethiopian! She asked if I was going for missions and I quietly said yes. She continued to work and I continued to wait until she looked up, looked directly into my eyes and asked me, “do you know Erin?” My reply was an enthusiastic, “Erin Johnson? Yes!” To which she responded “Now I know you are my sister!” Our group leader Erin had visited the same travel clinic more than once in years past and had made an impact on this nurse!

Prior to today’s appointment, I had spent about three weeks trying to talk to someone who could make me an appointment for the Travel Clinic and had been referred to multiple locations around San Diego, finally landing at this distant clinic. This had been very frustrating to me but my frustration had been in vain—God knew what I needed before I did. (Isn’t that always how it is?!) For the next hour nurse Yeshie and I talked and laughed like we were old friends. She helped me with my vaccinations of course, but she also answered questions that I had been pondering. My questions ranged from, “What should I order at the Ethiopian restaurant the team is having dinner at tomorrow night?” to, “How do I say hello and thank you when I’m in Ethiopia?” to the one question I really wanted to know the answer to, “What is the bathroom set up in Ethiopian villages?” She explained, advised, and reassured me about all manner of things. I left the Travel Clinic more at ease and with a new sister/friend. I am grateful I will see Yeshie for one more vaccination on the day we leave for Ethiopia. Until then, I have some packing and memorizing to do!

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

September 2016: Field Day 3

By Rachel Helfrick

There’s something about the middle day of a field week. You feel very sluggish, and on the field you don’t seem to be doing the best you can do. The rest of the week? Fine. Total energy and love for the people, but Erin warned us the middle day would be the worst day.

So me of little faith going to the field with this mindset, I was feeling pretty down. It didn’t help that we haven’t had many people come to the Lord compared to last trips.

After a 40-minute walk of steep downhill, Allie, Jax and I arrived at our first house. When we had left, I left slightly encouraged. A man had been a Christian, but he had made bad choices and wanted our advice. We encouraged him and prayed for him, then left. At our next house, we didn’t do anything except pray for the house, because everyone was already Christian.

Our third house, we had a re-conversion (when someone was a Christian, turned away, then came back again). Her name is Mary. Now feeling energized (and foolish, because I hadn’t trusted the day to God), we climbed more steep hills to our fourth house. We had another re-conversion whose name is Martha. As soon as she came back to Jesus, she ripped her necklace off. The Ethiopian orthodox ‘Christians’ wear necklaces with crosses on them, symboling their orthodox religion. When Martha tore off her necklace, she was tearing away from the Orthodox Church. It was so moving. She didn’t care that she would now be persecuted, she just wanted Jesus again! This day definitely helped me realize that 1.,God knows what He’s doing, He’s got it,2.,if I’m feeling like the day won’t be that great, remember to pray!!! and 3., just because it’s the middle field day doesn’t mean it’s going to be a fruitless day!:)

September 2016: Saturday at the Farmer’s Market

By Marcia McPhate:

Saturday, October 1st

This was the day The Lord made! We rejoiced and were glad!

We arrived in Arba Minch yesterday afternoon and checked into our hotel. There’s definitely a sense of long-held anticipation nearing it’s completion. We have joyfully greeted several of our Ethiopian brothers and sisters in Christ, and are anxious (Understatement!) to join them in encouraging the believers here and in being used by God to bring more into the Kingdom. (Pray!)

Today began with Rachel’s devotion on the topic of peace – peace that passes understanding in stressful times. Yes, some of us were a bit stressed – international travel, worrying over whether we are properly prepared for the important work God has for us, and fearing crocodiles and hippos, etc.

That’s right crocodiles and hippos. We rode in boats on Lake Chamo (2nd largest in Ethiopia!) to see crocodiles and hippos. The birds (white pelicans, Egyptian geese, Maribu storks, plover!) were a bonus. Allison J. says she saw 18 crocodiles. (Upclose, but not too unclose!) The beauty was mesmerizing. It was impossible not to marvel at the creation and even more, the Creator. “Can you draw out Leviathan with a hook or snare his tongue with a line which you lower?”

Later in the afternoon we went on a long but bumpy ride to the Highlands to see a typical Saturday “Farmer’s Market.” It would be impossible to paint this scene with words, I’ll attach a picture. The market was in a city called Chemcha and the people were of the Dorze tribe. They make the most colorful and beautiful scarves and hats, and their fences and dwellings have an artistry that is singularly impressive.

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We also witnessed upclose how very poor the people are. It’s hard to take in poverty like this. (Tears fell!) How wonderful it will be to return to the area next week to offer hope to a people who desperately need an eternal perspective.

The day concluded with Melissa’s devotion on overcoming fear through faith. It was a word that God gave her to share with the team. She had never before given a devotional talk, but was given confirmation that this was her moment and God’s message. (Cool!)

Tomorrow we will visit 3 churches that were planted after other E-3 teams shared the gospel here (Talk about cool!)

September 2016: Get Out of the Boat

By Allison Sonnier:

This morning at our team meeting we discussed the story of Peter walking on water. I’ve read the story many times, but being here in Ethiopia, the story takes on new meaning. I know I am not here on my own strength or because of my own abilities. It is by Christ’s power alone.

Peter knew Jesus could give him the power to walk on water. His faith in our Lord allowed him to climb out of the boat and stand on water, water that was angry from the storm.

I’ve been on both a lake and in the ocean during a storm. It’s scary enough being inside the boat. I can’t imagine open water. That’s because I’m thinking of being out in the water alone. I don’t have to be in it alone. God has promised to never leave me nor forsake me. All I need is faith.

We know Peter took his eyes off Jesus and began to sink. It’s easy to wonder what he was thinking, right? Really, Peter, why would you look down? Why did you get scared? You were WALKING ON WATER! Jesus was RIGHT THERE! He had you.

Yet how many times do I look down? How many times do I take my eyes off Jesus and let my circumstances, fears, concerns, or insecurities threaten to sink me?

If I’m being honest with myself, would I have even stepped out of the boat in the first place?

I don’t know what God has planned for this trip to Arba Minch, but I’m ready. I’m ready to step out of the boat and keep my eyes on Christ. He’s got this.