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.
Continue reading “The Body of Christ”

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.

  Continue reading “His Power and Glory”

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.

September 2016: Plot Twist

By Taylor Johnson:

You know when you are expecting something to happen, and then when it happens, it doesn’t happen the way you were expecting it to?

It’s like when you’re watching a movie, and you’re expecting a happy ending… and the hero dies in the end.

They call those “plot twists.”

Well, that’s been this trip for me… and we haven’t even left yet.

Let me tell you why.

Over the past two months (and probably more for our more-prepared members), our September 2016 team has been preparing for our trip to Ethiopia on Wednesday (September 28).

Our team leaders have been booking flights and hotels and preparing the itinerary for when we show up.

Others in the team have been getting their appropriate vaccinations, starting and finishing their packing lists and fundraising for the funds to go on the trip.

Together as a team, we have been learning the country we are entering. Practicing the language, memorizing different ways to tell others about sex trafficking and Jesus (two topics you’d never put next to each other), and how to not embarrass ourselves in a different country.

As a team, we’ve been well prepped for our trip.

Or so you would think.

Currently in Ethiopia there is political unrest, which has resulted in shootings and many deaths right in the area that we were planning, and prepared, to go to.

It is obviously not safe for a group of 15 Americans to visit there.

PLOT TWIST.

Instead of going to the region of Northern Amahara, in the north of Ethiopia, we are flying south to the city of Arba Minch to visit the Gamo people.

And now, many of the things we have prepared for our trip are probably not very likely to happen… seeing that we were planning to visit the families in Northern Amhara that received the chickens that many of our friends and families fundraised for.

And this is the time when I, who have experienced many plot twists, go into “okay I can do this, everything will be okay” mode. Because it’s in the plot twists, when God shows me how great He is… and how He has the plot twists under His control.

It’s in the plot twists, when all I can do is rely on Jesus and have Him guide me through the next steps.

I’m so much reminded of Matthew 10, when Jesus sends out his 12 disciples in pairs of 2, giving them the authority to heal the sick and drive out demons.

He then says this to them, “Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts— no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep. Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave. As you enter the home, give it your greeting. If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you.” (Matthew 10:9-13)

Jesus basically sends out 12 dudes and says – go as you are. NOW. Don’t bring money, no extra clothing. Don’t be prepared, but rather, watch and see what I can do. Have faith in what I’ve called you to do.

Can you imagine it? Peter is probably stoked because he’s got the authority to drive out demons and then Jesus says to go do good work and heal people but don’t pack anything and don’t bring any money. Good luck.

Plot Twist.

It’s Jesus saying, I’ve equipped you to do great things, but you still need ME. Watch what I can do to bless you and those I love.

There have been so many different situations when I’ve been in a plot twist, and I’ve gone from prepared to extremely unprepared and not confident in my own strength.

But during those moments, Jesus uses me, exactly as I am, and shows me what HE can do and how great HIS strength is.

It’s such a relief to know, that no matter how much or little prepared I feel in a situation, He still takes the reigns and makes magic happen.

I’m so much more excited for this trip, because I have no idea what will happen when we enter Arba Minch and there’s no way to know. None of us have done this before. No one is more prepared than the other.

We’re being lead by an all-knowing God who knows what’s to come. A God who has given us the greatest gift in Jesus and His heart to love on others.

Who does not call us to be prepared in every circumstance. But calls us to come as we are, and says, “watch what I can do.”

We are being lead by the  God who sent his son to be THE ultimate plot twist. And there’s no other God I’d rather follow.

 

To receive text updates while we’re gone – text “LBC” to 313-131. Thanks for following along!

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!