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 the Same

By Allison Sonnier

Three years ago I boarded a plane for my first trip to Ethiopia.  I had no idea at the time that it was the first of many.  God had plans for my life far beyond what I had imagined.  As I’ve been packing and preparing to leave in two days, I’ve been reflecting on His goodness.

Not too long ago I let anxiety rule my life and dictate my decisions.  I said yes to that first Ethiopia trip, because I clearly heard the voice of God calling me.  When God calls, you don’t say no.  Well, sometimes we try, right?  But really, it doesn’t make any sense to say no.  He calls us for a reason and with a purpose, not only for His plans to impact others but also for His plans to shape us.  Have you experienced this in your life?

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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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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.

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 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: Field Day 1 (as well)

By Jeremiah Shue:

Jesus told his followers to go out in twos and share about Jesus and perform miracles. Today we had a chance to exemplify that command. We went to the town of Dorze and shared the Evangecube and the PricelessCube with the people there. Today was a very exciting day, but also somewhat disappointing for those of us for which it is our first time to Ethiopia. For example, we drove to a church in Dorze excited and ready to share. I was with Dave Helfrick, our translator Wonbere, and our disciple maker Iraj, whose name I have most likely misspelled.

Anyway, it stated raining before we arrived, and by the time we left the church to head to the homes we were going to, the ground was nice and muddy, which did wonders on our shoes. Thankfully we had transport most of the time, but I still managed to get mud on my nose. 😯 Our first house was probably 8 feet square, but we still managed to share to about six people. As it turned out, four of them were already believers, one completely rejected our message, and one was an Ethiopian Orthodox believers who said essentially, “Your message is very good and necessary, but I do not believe.”

Oh well, we thought, maybe the other teams are doing better, and the next house will be more receptive. As it were, most of the other teams had about the same experience as we did. We learned this as they were passing by next to the church we had started at, which apparently was our next destination. We got there at about 1:30, but the people we were supposed to meet did not show up until about 4:00, right when we were leaving. In the meantime, we played with the children who kept showing up. Soon the other teams started to arrive and the kids swarmed Jax and his mom.

Although only one person came to Christ today, over 70 people heard the gospel, which is amazing. I would love to see what God does in the lives of these people. Please pray for the people we met today and those that are still waiting to hear this wonderful news.

September 2016: The Great Commission

By Rebecca Shue:

When Jesus said, “Go and make disciples of all nations,” he wasn’t speaking directly to Americans, but somehow, in America, we developed this idea that we are the primary missionaries who must go out and witness to the “poor backward” world. It would be hypocritical for me to say that we shouldn’t go but we are really only a link in the chain.

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Today we had an opportunity to worship with Ethiopian Christians. These churches are composed of people who learned about Christ through previous e3 trips. We drove only an hour from our hotel and the people were already speaking a different language. For us to speak to them required one translation into Amharic and another translation into their language, D’rusha. Twenty minutes further down the road, another portion of our group worshipped with people who spoke yet a different language. All this translating was fine for a special visit but not as a long term plan. But just imagine if each of the people in those churches learned the language of the people in the village next to them and shared the gospel themselves. That should be the true goal of American missions- churches that reproduce themselves.

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The Ethiopians have such enthusiasm and love for Christ that it truly transcends language barriers. As we start our village days tomorrow, I am happy to know that we are assisting Ethiopian Christians as they carry out the Great Commission.

 

** pictures to be uploaded when the Wifi is better!

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!)