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Archive for the 'Ethiopia Summer 2019' Category

Ethiopia Saturday update – Leaving for airport soon

The Ethiopia team is in great spirits & feeling good & will leave for the airport soon. Please pray for:
* our full hearts will translate to being as faithful sharing Christ in Dallas as it was in Ethiopia
* flights would be on time & we would make it to Dallas safely
* continued good health for the North Americans as we have a 5 1/2 hour followed by a 15 1/2 hour flight
* new believers would be discipled & shepherded & would stand firm under persecution

Hope to see you at the airport in Dallas!!!

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Thursday Ethiopia update – Witch Doctors son accepts free gift of salvation

It might have been the last day in the field for our team, but God used the limited time we had to show how powerful and mighty he really is. If we had to put it all into one word, it would be MIRACULOUS.
We traveled to a small village that we had previously visited. There was a strong influence of fear from a local witch doctor. We attempted to meet with her during our first visit to share our story. After finding out that she was away, we prayed at a local house for the witch doctor’s home to become a church and for God to show his love to the village as a whole.

During our visit this time, one thing remained constant in all of our conversations. There was a boy named Toloso who would pop around to each one of our gospel conversations. Not long after we started to share, we were met with opposition from an older Muslim man who was attempting to kick us off his land. Even after we respectfully relocated and continued to share, Toloso continued to show up in all of our circles. After Christa and Ashley started engaging with him, we learned that he was the witch doctor’s son. Although he believed the gospel was true, he was afraid of persecution from his family.

After praying with him and having multiple conversations, we invited him to a coffee ceremony at the same house we traveled to earlier in the week. After an extremely moving time of worship, Toloso decided that he wanted to accept Christ as his Lord and Savior. It is amazing to see how the Lord worked in this village. Two days prior, in the same house where we prayed that the witch doctor’s home would become a church, we had the opportunity to commission her son as a new brother in Christ to be the church.

Small Team Members- Aaron Libman, Ashley Tucker, Christa Cartwright, Jon Verwys, Kathleen Howard (Team Flex)

Ethiopia trip 2 folks are feeling great. There are some minor tummy issues but nothing that some rest & a little Pepto or Imodium won’t fix. Bittersweet saying goodbye to our Ethiopian translators & disciplemakers but the reality is that we head back to Addis Ababa tomorrow & they will stay with fond memories about how the Ferenge (white people) have loved & shared Christ among the Ethiopian Orthodox & Muslims. We will travel back to Addis tomorrow & start our post-trip training & also get some rest & eat some good food. Saturday night late we head to the airport & will arrive back in Dallas Sunday afternoon. We hope to see you at the airport. Please continue to pray for:
• The new believers will be discipled & shepherded as they will undergo persecution
• Safe travels as we drive back to Addis
• God will give us the courage to share as boldly in Dallas as we did in Ethiopia this week
• Good health & rest for the North American team

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Wednesday Ethiopia update – There is power in the name of Jesus

Praise God that we are having a wonderful time in Ethiopia! The Lord has sustained us through lost baggage, very little sleep, and walking (or slipping) through tons of mud. It has been beyond encouraging getting to witness so much freedom coming to the Ethiopians who accept Christ.

Our small team is working really well together and has gotten to see how The Lord uses our different stories to relate to His people! An Ethiopian heard the Gospel from Haleigh and then had a follow up conversation with Erik. He accepted Christ and was eager to start learning right away! It is such a gift to have Disciple Makers who live in the area on mission with us, so that we can quickly connect new believers with the local church.

Our ministry day was truly unbelievable. After Sarah shared her testimony with a family, a woman who had been kicked out of the Orthodox church because her husband divorced her accepted Christ. She said that the Gospel was “the story she had been waiting to hear.” We were invited into a coffee ceremony in a village where a house church meets. Getting to pray and worship with Ethiopian believers was a beautiful glimpse of heaven.

Today started off really rainy, but that didn’t stop our awesome Disciple Makers from gathering crowds for us to speak to. We were invited into a local pastor’s home and were so encouraged by his story and his ministry here. It can be discouraging to speak with people whose hearts seem so hardened to the Gospel, but praise God because we have seen many Muslims and Ethiopian Orthodox come to know Christ!

We are praying that tomorrow will also be filled with intentional conversations. We want to continue to use our testimonies to point others to the grace of God. We are praying that we are able to witness more breakthroughs for those who are living in the bondage of rules & religion as we head out tomorrow.

Small Team Members- Zach Howser, Sarah Whittingslow, Haleigh Yancey, Stephanie Akin, Erik Jessen

The team is at its strongest point physically as most folks are finally adjusted to the time change & are sleeping well. Tomorrow is our last full day of ministry so we will have a closing ceremony late in the afternoon to celebrate all that God has done this week. I have continually told our team that our job this week is to plant seeds & it’s God’s job to change hearts which makes our job easy as God does the heavy lifting. Please continue to pray for:
• Unity between the North Americans & our Ethiopian partners
• Continued open hearts to the gospel of Jesus Christ
• Continued good health
• Safety for the North Americans as we travel the roads & walk the mountain paths sharing Christ

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Tuesday Ethiopia update- Our God is might to Save

“ I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ, and are turning to a different Gospel- not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the Gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed… “ Galatians 1: 6-10

Today more than ever I was reminded of the different “religions” in the villages of Ethiopia and the Power of the one TRUE Gospel. Today we got the privilege of being in the village of Billalo as we encountered a much different crowd than the previous day. With heavy Ethiopian Orthodox and Muslim backgrounds prior, we, surprisingly, were met with believers- or so we thought. As soon as we got off the bus a group of men crowded around Josh and Taylor as Kendall and Marcus took another group to pass the soccer ball. Once Taylor and Josh were finished their group of 20+ came and joined the other group and Marcus began to share his testimony and the Gospel. Many of the believers began to ask, “ why do you keep sharing this same story… we are all believers. “ At that point Kendall got to jump in and share how we as believers don’t just need the Gospel the moment we are saved but it is something we should remind ourselves of daily. We talked about the purpose of the church, importance of community, and the need to be in Gods word.
It was so cool to see everyone using his or her unique Gifts. Marcus has an ability to pull believers aside and share about next steps in becoming a fully devoted follower of Jesus. Taylor has the ability to bring kids in and share stories of Gods great love for them. Kendall has the gift of apologetics and got to help makes sense of arguments of the Orthodox Church and Muslim faith for individuals of other faiths. Josh has the ability to share the Gospel in a way that’s clear and consistent.
Many individuals accepted Christ and many heard the message of the Gospel.
God is on the move and is softening hearts all over Ethiopia. The Gospel is the power of God for salvation, and today was the salvation for many. PRAISE GOD who can do immeasurably more than what we could ever ask or imagine!!!
Small Team Members- Josh Pickett, Kendall Williams, Marcus Peters, Taylor Ray

Ethiopia Team 2 is doing well outside of some minor stomach issues. Praise the Lord that we got our luggage this afternoon as some of the people have been wearing the same clothes since they left Dallas on Friday (which is a light & momentary affliction compared to sharing Christ with people who have never heard the message). The weather in Assela is awesome. Lows are in the low 50’s & the highs are in the mid 70’s but with the elevation of 9,000 feet above sea level, when the sun comes out it does feel pretty warm. God is moving in some incredible ways & these stories are only a fraction of how God is moving in Ethiopia. Please continue to pray for:
• Unity between the North Americans & our Ethiopian partners
• Open hearts to the Gospel of Jesus Christ among the Ethiopian Orthodox & Muslims
• Good health
• Safety as we travel the Ethiopian roads

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Monday Ethiopia update- God works to change hearts in Ethiopia

Ethiopia team 2 folks had a great 1st day of ministry. The day started with a monsoon that kept us at the hotel a little longer than we anticipated but the rain stopped & we jumped in our vans & headed out to our mission sites. We had an opening ceremony where we had a chance to worship with our Ethiopian partners & then we broke into our small teams & met our Ethiopian translators & disciple-makers.

After the opening ceremony we drove out to our mission sites & got out of the van. Our small team didn’t walk 20 steps before 2 young girls asked why we were there. Kendall Williams & Taylor Ray shared their testimonies & then the evangecube. As they were sharing the cube a middle aged man walked up with a scowl. I could tell by his body language that he wasn’t happy we were there. After he heard the gospel he said that there were many religions in this area but there are people who have a lot of addictions & struggles. I jumped in & shared my testimony of trying to find happiness in alcohol, drugs & inappropriate relationships with girls. As I shared my testimony & talked about God being more interested in the condition of our heart than or outward religious activity. After a really good discussion the man said that what we were saying was a good word & that people in the village had the opportunity to believe this message for themselves if they choose to. Amazing how God changed this mans countenance & made him open & receptive to the gospel.

The team is feeling good & is rested We hope to get our luggage tomorrow (Tuesday afternoon) but the team is in good spirits in spite of only having what they had in their carryon. Please continue to pray for:
• Open hearts among the Ethiopian Orthodox & Muslims
• Team would get good rest & continue to have good health
• Safe travels on the Ethiopian roads
• Unity with our Ethiopian partners
• Luggage would arrive & people would get clean clothes

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Ethiopia Team 1 is headed back to DFW & Team 2 has arrived

Ethiopia Team 1 is headed back to home & Team 2 has arrived safe & sound. While Team 2 has arrived healthy & in good shape, the bags did not arrive. We aren’t expecting the luggage for 48 hours but that won’t stop us as the team is in good spirits.

Please pray for:
* Unity between the North Americans & our Ethiopian partners
* Safety as we travel the Ethiopian roads Sunday toward our mission site
* Open hearts to the gospel among the Ethiopian Orthodox & Muslims
* All the luggage would arrive on Tuesday

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Thursday Ethiopia update- Muslims hearts drawn to the true God

Never judge a book by its cover, especially if God is the author.

The “book” being the mission field and the “cover” being the physical location we were sharing the gospel. Our team wasn’t placed in a village today, but rather stopped on the side of the highway in the middle of nowhere. Our team was eager to share the gospel with a lot of people with this being our last ministry day, but this site did not seem to fit the bill.

However, God was still faithful (as he always is) to bring some amazing conversations our way. Brady shared his story and the Evangecube with two men, one of which is going to read the New Testament to do his own research and one of which accepted Christ!

One of our North American members, Letty who is from Ethiopia had conversations with some women and children nearby and they were excited to know that she can speak their native tongue. It was an amazing feeling how God orchestrated for her to come and share her testimony. While she was sharing there were kids playing with bubbles nearby & they started getting closer to the gospel conversation. It did not take too long when two of the boys said I believe. She was originally discouraged that she had not heard anyone accept Christ yet but knew our job is to plant seeds & eventually on our last ministry day she saw people come to Christ

Courtney began to share the Evangecube with a small group of teenage girls and a few other children. They seemed eager and excited about hearing the Gospel. Afterwards, they prayed and one of the girls had a large grin on her face. She was a 12 year-old girl who had been the only believer in her family. We shared a copy of the New Testament with the women and Courtney shared with the girl how to read Scripture. We opened the Bible to Ephesians 2:4-10. The translator began to translate the verse and we had the girl follow along in her new Bible. She then read the verse to us in her own language and was so excited to have a physical copy of God’s word in her hands. Courtney shared how that verse spoke of her being the “handiwork of God” and that there is power and truth in God’s Word.

In the afternoon, Brady and John had the chance to spend over an hour meeting with 8-10 Muslim men in a coffee shop. We had the chance to share the gospel through the Evangecube and then proceeded to answer as many questions as we could regarding Jesus’ divinity, the Trinity, and other questions about the faith. The team, along with our Ethiopian translators and disciple-makers were able to challenge the group’s thinking and answer their questions. It was so encouraging to see how EAGER these men were to learn and have their questions answered. Although none of them accepted Christ today, these men are leaders in their Muslim community and have scheduled follow-up meetings with the local disciple-makers. This is exactly how the model is supposed to work: strengthen and empower the local church so that God can work through them. We have no idea what the fruit will be from our time in the coffee shop, but the potential impact of that conversation is huge!

Our time in the field came to a close, and all five teams met back at a church for a closing service. The Ethiopians honored each team member with a certificate commemorating our time serving alongside their churches. Our Ethiopian partners blessed us with a coffee ceremony and then both Ethiopians and Americans worshipped together in song and dance (the Ethiopian way). It was a beautiful sight! After meeting as small teams (Ferenge, translators, and disciple-makers) for the last time and encouraging each other, we loaded the vans and headed back to the hotel. Our time with the Ethiopian translators and disciple-makers was so sweet. They have incredible stories of God’s faithfulness and their own commitment in the midst of persecution. We’ll never forget our time with our brothers and sisters in Christ across the world!

Small Team 5 Members – Courtney Frey, John Bundren, Letty Petros, Brady Vogel

Team Health Update
The team is healthy & safe. After 4 full ministry days we will be heading back to Addis Ababa tomorrow. After travelling back to Addis, we will get some rest, do some followup training & have a nice dinner Friday night. What an awesome week this has been sharing Christ’s love with the Ethiopian Orthodox & Muslims in the Oromo Region of Ethiopia. Please continue to pray for:
• Safety as we drive back to Addis Ababa tomorrow
• Continued good health
• New believers would stand up strong under persecution & be discipled & grow in their new faith

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Wednesday Ethiopia update- God is on the move

A small bathroom break turned into a huge blessing.

We started the day at the same church as yesterday, worshiping with our Ethiopian brothers and sisters, breaking out our best dance moves and trying our best to sing songs in their language (emphasis on trying). Regardless, we had so much fun and enjoyed worshiping God unashamed with reckless abandonment. Many members of our team were excited to see what God was going to do today. We were praying for big things and expecting God to continue to move in the hearts of the Ethiopian people.

After the service, small team 3 started their morning in the same area that they shared the Gospel on Tuesday. Many of the people were not receptive to the Gospel message so we were getting a little discouraged, but reminded that the Lord can use anything for His glory. It was a joy getting to see and meet so many Ethiopians who were excited to meet us. We felt like celebrities! The Lord used this to open up doors for us to share the gospel! Up to this point it was evident that the Ethiopian people have a deep love for “foreigners” so much to the point that they will drop what they are doing to spend time listening eagerly waiting to ask questions. The speed of life compared to the typical American hustle is vastly different.

Praise God for the miracle of many people having the freedom to know him today!

After lunch, we hiked to a more remote village. On our way up, we were wondering where the people were and only saw cows and fields of grass. After about a 15 minute hike, we approached a small village and were greeted by a few women and children who were in the middle of working. After getting to know each other, one of our team members began to share the gospel. A minute into the story, the couple of people gathered around began to call more people from their village over to come a listen to the gospel. Soon the group grew from 4 people to about 15. The people were receptive of the message, but had some hesitation on whether or not they believed it. There was a lot of discussion between the people and the disciple-makers and translators. After much discussion, the people said they needed to discuss this with their families and others in the village.

We left the conversation feeling a little discouraged again. We began to head back to the van, but the girls needed to find a bathroom. A small bathroom break turned into a huge blessing.

While the girls were at the restroom, the men on our team began engaging with the leader of the village. In Ethiopia, the leader of the village is the one that is responsible for the physical and sometimes spiritual health of the village. The leader had asked for us to leave his land. The disciple makers and translators engaged this man and found out that other members of our team had shared the gospel with him earlier in the day. He said he believed the message was true but had requested that he needed time to think about the message, due to his Ethiopian Orthodox faith. The Orthodox in Ethiopia believe in Jesus death burial & resurrection but they believe that is insufficient as you also have to do good works. After speaking to the leader of the village using Scripture the disciple makers & translators and our team were able to help him see the flaws of his beliefs and how they do not align with God’s word. The leader, still skeptical, was very encouraged that we shared with him this truth from God’s word. He immediately asked if he could read the same bible we were using to share this truth with his village. We provided the bible and the disciple makers asked if they can come and share more about how to grow in Christ. He agreed to this and stated that he would now allow those who are living in his village to have the freedom to decide whether or not they decide to follow Jesus.

Shortly after he said this, our disciple makers/translator asked us to pray over this village and thank God for opening hearts. After the prayer, the Ethiopians busted out in song and praise, singing Galatmia Galatmia mal ya, Galatmia Galmia mal ya. Which means Thank you Jesus, Thank you.

Small Team 3 Members – Abby Hare, Matt Robison, Caroline Brooks, Katy Hammond, Forest Pinkerton

Team Update
Ethiopia team is feeling great. Team is in good health & the person with the spider bite is doing much better & the sick person from yesterday was well enough to go out & share. Thanks so much for your prayers. The weather in this part of Ethiopia is AWESOME!!!! The high is in the mid-70’s & the low is in the 50’s. The elevation in Assela is 8,000 feet above sea level & the mission site is around 9,500 feet above sea level. What a nice break from the Texas heat. Please continue to pray for:
• Unity between our North American & Ethiopian partners
• Open hearts to the gospel of Jesus Christ
• Continued good health
• New believers would be discipled & growth in their new faith

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Tuesday Ethiopia update- Our God is mighty to save

You never know when you’re going to get called on to lead worship in Ethiopia! Day two consisted of all the teams loading up in the vans and making the first stop at a local church to meet our Ethiopian translators & disciple-makers. Cat and Kellie were handed the microphones and led the worship song “Our God is an Awesome God.” We then got to sing along to some Ethiopian worship songs & had so much fun. For many of us, we got to experience worship in new and exciting ways by singing and dancing and shouting praise to God. We might have to bring some of these worship dance moves back to Dallas!

Small Team 4 hit the streets close in a local village that was busy. We split up and shared for a few hours, got to visit one of our disciple maker’s homes to have lunch, and went back out to the streets to share for the remainder of the afternoon.

In one of our first conversations we shared our testimony and 5-7 people professed that they believed the gospel story. One of the men said he had lived there his entire life and only heard about the Muslin and Ethiopian Orthodox faith. He was confused and asked us, “ Why has no one ever shared this story with us?” We told him that because God loves him, He sent us to come share with him. It is becoming more normal for us to hear this response, that although they have heard the name of Jesus they did not know the saving grace that He has to offer them through the cross.

One of the memorable parts of our day was getting to spend time having lunch with our ministry partners. They are always extremely hospitable and invited us into their home and made us fresh coffee. We got to have fellowship together eating and drinking buna (coffee), worshipping Jesus, and dancing in their yard! Seeing the joy of the Lord in their lives has encouraged and strengthened our faith!

One of our prayers for the day was to get the opportunity to get to speak to women in the village! Many times as crowds grow large, the women would get pushed to the side and wouldn’t hear the full story we had to share. After praying, we stumbled upon a grandmother who had her teenage granddaughters with her. I got to share about struggles in my life trying to find satisfaction in relationships with men and alcohol and how it left me broken and sad. After sharing the love I have found in Christ and how he alone fulfills my desires, I shared the gospel and the grandmother was moved and said she believed. As more people came up to listen I shared with them, and she began to shout. Our translator said that she was yelling at the teens to listen to me because everything we shared was true from beginning to end and that they should listen and believe. It was an answered prayer to speak to this woman, as she will be a pillar of truth for the younger women in her village!

Many times when we were in large crowds we had to be very flexible and move locations when it became too chaotic to manage. At one point we were sharing with a young man and needed to leave mid- conversation, so we briefly said that if he believed in Jesus then his life could be different just like ours. He immediately believed and prayed with our translator to accept Christ as his Lord. It showed us that God is revealing himself to His people and our words are only a tool- but not always required. Praise God for the miracle of many people coming to know him today!
Small Team 4 Members – Cat Raegan, Tommy Christoffel, Jonathan Dickerson, Kellie Long

Health of the team
The Ethiopia team is doing a great job sharing their faith. They are physically healthy & strong except 1 person had some stomach issues last night & had to stay at the hotel today to rest. Another person got some kind of insect or spider bite but we were able to get them started on an antibiotic right away. Please continue to pray for:
• Rest & good health for the North Americans. Pray that our bodies would be strengthened & we would have the energy to climb into remote areas & share of the freedom we have in Christ
• Unity between the North Americans & our Ethiopian partners
• Open hearts to the gospel of Jesus Christ among the Ethiopian Orthodox & Muslims
• Safety as we drive on the Ethiopian mountain roads

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Ethiopia Monday update- God is moving in people’s hearts

What an awesome 1st day of ministry. We started the day at 7:00AM with an Ethiopian breakfast of eggs, spaghetti, and some mystery meat followed by a team devotional. We then hopped in the vans & took the hour drive to our mission area & had a great church service with our Ethiopian partners where we sang & worshipped Jesus. What an awesome time worshipping with our Ethiopian brothers & sisters.

After our church service we jumped into the vans with our Ethiopian translators & disciple-makers & drove to our mission site. Our van drove a short distance & then we got out to share. We didn’t walk 25 steps until we were surrounded by Ethiopians asking why we were there. We started sharing our testimonies about how Jesus Christ has changed our lives & then shared the story of God’s grace with the evangecube. People were coming & going during the conversations but it was clear that multiple people accepted Christ & said they believed this message is true. I was talking with a different group of people 1 hour later & an old man came up to me with a huge smile on his face. He said “I am a Christian!” I asked him how long he has been a christian & he said “Today!”

The gospel of Jesus Christ is amazing & the power of Jesus name to change the hearts of people & draw them to himself is an awesome & amazing mystery.

The team is healthy & safe & everyone had a chance to share today which was very encouraging to everyone. Please continue to pray for:
• Unity between the North Americans & our Ethiopian partners
• Open hearts to the gospel of Jesus Christ among the Ethiopian Orthodox & Muslims
• Continued safety & good health for the North Americans

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