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Thursday Ethiopia update – What an awesome week sharing Christ

Today, our small team traveled to an isolated Ethiopian farm village. Our van couldn’t reach the desired mission site because of the monsoon during the night and the flooding. We began our walk down this muddy path for a mile before coming upon a house. Kelly and Josh on our team stopped to share with the family as other team members moved on to the next house.
We approached the house and greeted a man, his wife and 3 kids. After sharing who we are and why we came to Ethiopia it started to rain so we all huddled underneath a few trees to share our story of life change. While sharing the evangecube and the story of Jesus with the man, a crowd begins to gather. Among them was a rather tall and seemingly disgruntled man. I shared my personal testimony as they listened intently.
The man whose house we were at said that he believed the story I shared about Jesus was true but that he was Ethiopian Orthodox and that he believed his good work would get him to heaven. The tall man however stated otherwise. He began to share that he used to be a follower of Christ but had turned to alcohol and no longer considered himself a believer. He stated that us coming and sharing had given him hope and that he wanted to repent and begin to follow Christ once again! Praise God!
God of course was not finished. Upon hearing the good news that we are saved by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ alone (Eph 2:8,9) the Orthodox man’s heart was moved. He and his wife both accepted Jesus as their savior and we all pray together! Praise God!
This was an amazing display of God and His glory. He brought us to this exact place to experience a deeper understanding of his sovereignty and that he truly does not need us; yet allows us to be a small part of this incredible story.
Watermark Dallas team is tired after a long week but doing well. The people who had some stomach issues are feeling better & rest over the next 48 hours will help. Tomorrow the plan is to drive to Addis Ababa, get some rest, do some post-trip training & eat some good food. Saturday will be our off day to rest, eat some good food, see the city of Addis & do our final post-trip training.
Please continue to pray for:
• Good heath for the North Americans
• Safety as we travel to Addis
• New believers would stand strong under the persecution
• Disciplemakers would shepherd well the new believers
• Many churches would be planted among the new believers

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Wednesday Ethiopia update- The shock of never seeing a white person

Today, our small team traveled to a remote village where many of the people had never seen white people. As we walked into the village, the people began to gather. Fidel and Colby,, approached a teenager to shake his hand, and this teenager backed away and turned himself, as to shield himself from an attack.
Fidel asked if everything was ok with the teen or if he felt threatened. The teen told the translators yes and that he had not seen a white person before. A few minutes later, the teen had a change of heart and approached Fidel with smile on his face, shaking his hand and agreeing to speak.
Colby and Fidel asked the teen about himself and his beliefs. When asked about his faith, the teen said he prayed to the mountains and the trees that give him and his family life through agriculture. Fidel agreed with the teen about the beauty and life that mountains and trees give, but redirected the teen to the Creator of all trees and mountains, of all beauty and life. Fidel shared his testimony and how this Creator changed his life in a way that no tree or mountain ever could.
Colby and Fidel then shared the story of Jesus Christ, our need for a Savior and how Christ died so that we may be saved and have a direct relationship with God again. The teen acknowledged he had heard of Jesus before but that His life and resurrection was never fully explained. He accepted Jesus as his Savior but admitted he wasn’t ready to confess his faith aloud yet. He explained that his wife would shun him and how it could separate him from his family. He said he would go home and share the news of Christ with them, with his ultimate hope that they would follow him on his new journey. He hugged both Fidel and Colby before leaving.
It was a sweet moment for our small team to look back at that conversation. What started with fear and distrust ended with a hug and hope. Our God is big.

The Watermark Dallas team is doing well but some of our team members are starting to feel a little run down. Several have some minor stomach issues but rest & Imodium will help with that. Tomorrow is our last ministry day so the team is excited to celebrate the week but also sad to say goodbye to such dear Ethiopian friends.

Please pray for:
• Good health for our North Americans who are struggling with stomach issues
• Continued safety as we minister in remote mountain villages
• Unity with our Ethiopian partners as we have our celebration ceremony tomorrow
• New believers will be discipled well & stand strong under persecution

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Tuesday Ethiopia update- What a mighty God we serve

Our ministry day started like a surprise birthday party. We jumped out of the van and instantly people swarmed. We were soon playing soccer, volleyball, acting out David vs. Goliath, blowing bubbles, playing with a parachute, and sharing the gospel. Many kids accepted. It was hard to find someone not smiling.
Amid all the play, each of us would take the time to share the gospel. Early on, Tarikwa pulled Rasheal into one of the houses, where she shared the gospel with more than twenty women. All accepted, except the oldest one, who was concerned of what her husband, who was Ethiopian Orthodox, would think, expressing the sentiments of many. Lo and behold, Ben and Kevin were sharing with many of their husbands around the same time, and many accepted. When Christ wants people to follow him, he sometimes takes a village.
During lunch at one of our disciple makers’ houses, we shared testimonies while enjoying Ingira (Ethiopian bread like food) and a coffee ceremony. Kevin, Johnna, See S’ai, Ocean shared their testimonies. Johnna’s testimony brought her and the team to tears, such so that Ethiopians crowded the door to see why. Because she shared her story with such honesty and a thankfulness for what Christ did for her, Tarikwa and See S’ai asked her to share again with the young girls watching, so they could hear the incredible story. And after lunch, all of us went outside and shared our testimonies with See S’ai, his family, and their friends to encourage them in their faith.
Nathan taught some children how to play American football (“wide receiver” did not translate well), Ben and Laura had around thirty kids dancing and laughing during Simon Says, and Kevin was playing Frisbee as the day wound down. A conversation that Johnna and Nathan had with staunch Orthodox women found them accepting Christ. While Nathan and Johnna were sharing in the house, Laura and Rashel were painting nails. The girls were showing their nails off to everyone, including each other, and were dancing all around. Ben’s conversations were fruitful, as many accepted. We did not want to leave.
Pray for the town of Szaikboka. They showed us unparalleled hospitality, and their eagerness to hear the story of Christ more than refilled our hearts. It was an awesome day.

Watermark Dallas team is feeling good but a couple people have some minor stomach issues. Please continue to pray for:
• Good health & strength to finish strong
• Continued unity with our Ethiopian partners
• Continued open doors for the Gospel of Jesus Christ among the Ethiopian Orthodox & Muslims

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Ethiopia update- What an awesome God we serve

For the 1stday of ministry in Ethiopia, we had a sweet morning meeting with our team of translators and disciple makers. In our initial conversations with one of the disciple makers we learned that all his brothers and sisters were believers, however his Mom was not. She had supposedly believed at one point in Christ but ended up losing one of her sons due to sickness which made her reject God. Before we left our initial meeting we prayed for our new friend and for his mother. We also prayed for an opportunity to get to speak with his mom today. By God’s divine appointment at the end of the day we were able to share the gospel with her. Alana and Justin had an opportunity to be welcomed into her home and share the story of Christ. After talking about the salvation offered through Christ and how the message of the Gospel changed their lives, the mother began to open her heart. She deeply wanted to be with her son that had passed away and see him again. Alana and Justin explained how she could see him again in Heaven if she would be willing to believe in the story of Christ and the redeeming grace he offers. She became very happy and emotional as she decided to let God into her heart again. Some of her other children were there and it turned into an incredibly moving experience. It is truly amazing what God can do through us and with us if we are just faithful.  Such a great way to start the trip!

Watermark trip 4 people are rejoicing after an awesome 1stday of sharing Christ’s redemption.  Even though the weather is much cooler than Dallas, at 5800 feet above sea level the sun is very intense.  Please continue to pray for:

• Continued open hearts to the gospel message among the Ethiopian Orthodox & Muslims
• Unity between the North Americans & our Ethiopian partners
• Good health & safety
• Much needed sleep for the North Americans because of the 8 hour time difference

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Ethiopia update- Ft Worth headed home & Dallas arrives

Wifi at hotel wasn’t working last night so sorry for the delay in updating. It’s 9:00 AM in Addis Ababa (8 hours ahead of DFW time). I dropped the Ft Worth team off at the airport last night for their 1:45 AM flight so they are on their way home. The Dallas team arrived as well & got checked into the hotel around 2:30 AM. Dallas team is healthy & safe & all the bags arrived.

For the Dallas team, today is a day of travel to mission site, try to get acclimated, get some rest & final training. Please pray for:
* Ft Worth team to make it home healthy & safe
* unity between North Americans & Ethiopian partners
* Dallas team to get some rest today so they can hit the ground running on Monday
* safety as we travel the Ethiopian roads

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Ethiopia Thursday update- Our God is mighty to save!!

Small Team 1 has had a great week! We wrapped up our ministry time today and it was a great day. Today has consisted of rejection of the gospel, really deep questions, and several people accepting Christ today. This morning we started out in a Muslim community, which entailed a lot of hard conversations about the trinity and some serious opposition. However, after we shared with several groups and began to leave the area, a girl followed us down the road to tell us she accepted Jesus and let us pray for her in the street! This is HUGE in the Muslim community to even let us pray with her and also for her to come find us to do so was evidence of God moving. Further down the road we shared with a group of 4 young adult men who said the message of Jesus was good and they accepted Jesus Christ! We shared with another group of Muslim men and one of them decided to accept, we asked to pray and thank God with him, but he was afraid because he was surrounded by a group of men from his village. It was a tough reminder to know that accepting the Gospel can have earthly consequences, but that following Christ is worth everything. We also came across a village elder alongside the street who we shared the gospel with. After sharing he said thank you and that he would pray to God to see if this message was really true. He ended up following us to the church where we ate lunch and he asked us if we would come to his house and pray for his wife because she was sick. We went to this mans house and prayed for his wife and found out she was a believer. After we shared the gospel again with the man and he accepted Jesus. The joy on his face was unreal he totally was experiencing God’s love. Throughout this week we have played with so many kids and have seen so many people come to Christ. God is moving in Ethiopia!

Although we’ve seen and heard a lot of rejection this week, we’ve also seen God move in huge ways. It’s amazing to share the gospel alongside Ethiopians who are brothers and sisters in Christ. We are so thankful for our Ethiopian disciple makers who are able to follow up and pursue everyone who accepted what Christ has done for them.

Ft Worth team is healthy, sunburned & tired from a full week of ministry but we have hearts full of joy. It is crazy seeing God change someone’s heart right before your eyes. The disciplemakers are the ones committed to following up & discipling/shepherding the new believers & gathering them into new churches. The Ft Worth team will get to hike a mountain in the morning & have a devo & worship time with our Ethiopian partners. After the drive to Addis Ababa & some rest, we’ll have some followup training of trip debrief & processing all that God has done this week. We’ll go to dinner Friday night & prepare for our last day in Addis (Saturday). Saturday will be of rest, eating some good food & doing our trip re-entry training as the Ft Worth team prepares to come home.

Thanks so much for your prayers this week. Please continue to pray for:
• Unity between the North Americans & our Ethiopian partners
• New believers to stand strong under persecution
• New churches to be planted
• Safety as we travel back to Addis Ababa
• Continued good health for the North Americans

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Ethiopia Wednesday update – Reproduction of new believers

Small Team 3 has had a really encouraging week so far! We’ve had a mixture of responses… some people rejected the Gospel, others needed to think about it more, and a lot of people have trusted in Christ as their Lord & Savior! It has been amazing to see the Lord work here in Ethiopia. One of my favorite stories so far was from Day 2 of our mission days. We had spent the morning in a village sharing about Christ and playing soccer with the kids. Afterwards we went to a home church in the village and had a coffee ceremony (a HUGE honor in the Ethiopian culture), and worshipped with the Christians in the village. One of the sweetest things that I’ve noticed about Ethiopian culture has been the Christian hospitality. It doesn’t matter that we’re American and we don’t know their language, the fact that we are all Christians meant we deserved the highest honor in their home. It was sweet rest for our bodies and our souls after a long morning in the sun playing with the kids and sharing the Gospel.

Afterward, we drove to another village (which our translators told us was a new development), and we started sharing with some people who were walking down the street. In this village, I met a 12-year-old girl named Hannah, who was standing with her mother. They immediately asked me, “Why are you here?” and I responded, “Our team is here to tell everyone about Jesus. Do you know who Jesus is?” They started enthusiastically nodding their heads yes, and I asked them, “Are you Ethiopian Orthodox?” They shook their heads and Hannah said, in English, “No, we are Protestant! Jesus is my Lord.” Hannah’s sincerity and English surprised me, and so I took her to play some games, and then later reviewed the Evangecube with her (the Evangecube looks like a rubix cube that simply explains the story of the Gospel). Hannah was smart, she knew English, and she was clear that Jesus died for her sins. What was so sweet about Hannah, was that after I told her the cube in English, she ran down to another house and got 3 of her friends and shared the Evangecube and story of the Gospel with them! It was so encouraging to see discipleship in its simplest form!

Day 3 of ministry went well & the team is encouraged. Everyone is healthy & feeling well but understandably tired. Praise God that he has sustained us & given us what we need this week. Many people have heard the gospel message & many seeds have been planted this week. Please pray for:
• Continued good health
• Unity with our Ethiopian partners
• New believers would stand strong under persecution
• Trip 4 people in Dallas would be ready as they travel on Friday to Ethiopia

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Tuesday Update- Our God is an awesome God!

Small Team 4
Small Team 4 began their day at the soccer fields. The team worked together to share the gospel and their stories to create diversity for the listeners. When the team was sharing, an adult pulled the children away. One of our team members got to share the gospel with a man for the second time. This team got to share with many Orthodox believers. The team members got to explain that salvation is by grace alone, and not by works. She was able to ask questions about scripture – giving her the opportunity to believe through the stories the team shared and her interest in the Bible. One Ethiopian accepted Christ into their heart and four other Ethiopians followed after that – praise God! Another team member got to share with an Ethiopian Muslim man who said that he had a dream two months ago that a white person was going to share the gospel with him. This man is from a very closed area where everyone is Muslim & now as a new believer he said that he wants to go back to his home area & share the good news with his home village.

Small Team 3
A team member got to share with an Orthodox listener about whether Mary was our mediator to God & should be worshipped. One team member got to share with a Christ follower & her 12 year old daughter. The believer’s daughter was very intrigued by the Evangecube, so much so that we were able to give her an Evangecube to share with the people around her. She had already started sharing with other before the team left the village. The kids in the village were extremely friendly and loved playing with the team members throughout the day.

Small Team 2
Our team had a mixture of encouraging and discouraging stories. We got to share with some Muslim boys. They voiced that they were afraid of accepting the gospel after we shared. Later, when we were sharing one of the boys continued to follow us to listen to us sharing so it was evident that he was intrigued. One member got to share a lot of scripture throughout the day with several follow-up questions, including asking about the trinity and having multiple gods. Another team member got to share with another Ethiopian Orthodox Christian. The listener questioned the difference between our bibles. We got to share with him that it’s the same bible, but the orthodox bible has 15 additional books. The listener said he was going to go back to his Orthodox church and ask why he did not know it was the same book. We got share our testimonies throughout the day with our believing translators and disciple makers. It was extremely encouraging that our God creates such unique and beautiful stories for everyone – no matter where we are in the world or what our language is. Throughout the day we had at least 12 people that said they accepted Christ as their personal Savior.

Small Team 1
There were many people that Team 1 talked to who said they believed in the Gospel after it was shared but that there was nothing they could do about it, they were fearful to accept Christ or that it was too hard to change. One man stated at first, after hearing the Evangecube, that he did not believe it. The team asked if they could pray for him and he said yes. After the team prayed for him, he said that he was ready to believe and accepted Christ as his Savior! One last interaction that the team had was one man came up to the team and said that he was not a believer, but his wife was and asked if the team could come pray for his wife who is sick. The team said they would but were going to a church to worship first and the man ended up going to the church with them, worshipped with the team, participated in a coffee ceremony and spent time with the team who were able to pour into the man who was not a believer. The team was able to go to the man’s house, pray for his wife, then the man asked to hear the Gospel through the Evangecube again and as it was being explained to him, he started smiling and surrendered his life to Christ. What a picture of how God pursues people, how he leaves the 99 and goes after the one!

Overall, there were moments of rejection and discouragement throughout the day on all the teams, but God continued to draw people to Himself and change lives. We know that the outcome of us sharing the Gospel is not up to us and that He is sovereign over every soul we encounter. He made this evident today because even though the Gospel was shared clearly, many people rejected it, but others accepted. What an amazing God we serve who lets us be a part of growing His kingdom! I can’t wait to see how He continues to move this week.

Ft Worth Team is tired after a couple long days working in the sun but they are feeling encouraged by all that God has been doing. Please continue to pray for:
• Many open hearts to the gospel
• Unity between North Americans & Ethiopian partners
• New believers to be discipled & encouraged
• New churches to be planted among the new believers

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Ethiopia Ft Worth update- What a mighty God we serve

Today was the first ministry day going out into the villages to begin evangelizing. After an awesome devotional and a hearty breakfast, we went to a local church nearby to meet our disciple makers and translators. The hospitality and joy that radiated from the believers of this church was amazing. They cooked us some Ethiopian snacks (popcorn, coffee, and bread) and we spent some time worshipping and getting to know each other. After awhile, each team set out to their designated mission sites.

Small Team 4 arrived at their village and almost immediately had the opportunity to share our stories and the Gospel with two different groups. There was a pretty clear separation between the guys and girls in the groups. Within the guys groups, the initial reaction was one of threat and hostility. One young Ethiopian man especially did not appreciate our presence and made it known among the group. But as we continued to share and point to God’s Word, God went to work. The same man that had created the hostile environment was 1 hour later wide-eyed listening to the Good News of the Gospel and asking for prayer. God’s redemptive work was clearly visible in a matter of minutes.

Our team had many opportunities to share the gospel, and many came to know Christ, which was awesome! We split off into smaller groups as we worked together to share our stories and the gospel with different people we encountered. A couple people from our team spoke to a struggling alcoholic who ended up accepting Christ knowing there was hope for him. We also spoke to a witch doctor whose mother passed away 8 years earlier and then 5 months ago had a dream about Jesus showing her mother in hell. We went through the evangicube with her and she said that was her exact dream she had and chose to accept Jesus as her Savior! God is at work here and we are overwhelmed by his goodness to allow us to be a part of his mission. Pray for our team and that the Holy Spirit would open the eyes of the Ethiopians to the truth of the gospel.

The Ft Worth team is doing well after the 1st full day of ministry. The weather in Ethiopia has been AWESOME!! The lows are in the 60’s & the highs have been in the 80’s. With the elevation around 5,800 feet above sea level, we are enjoying the clean mountain air.

Please pray for:
• Continued open hearts to the gospel message among the Ethiopian Orthodox & Muslims
• Unity between the North Americans & our Ethiopian partners
• Good health & safety
• Much needed sleep for the North Americans because of the 8 hour time difference

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Ethiopia here we come …… again

Tomorrow (Friday, 20th) the 1st Ethiopia team will get on an airplane for the long flight to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia going to share how Jesus Christ has changed our lives. The “journey” to Ethiopia started early this year since our first training meeting was in January over 6 months ago. Our training and preparation for Ethiopia has consisted of support raising (learning how to share the financial need in healthy ways), immunizations (shots) party and cultural awareness training, team building day, practice sharing the gospel with the evangecube, roleplaying sharing our testimonies, and giving biblical defense for the gospel for common Orthodox and Muslim arguments.

As I think about these next week 2 weeks, I can’t help but think about the people who will hear about God’s saving grace for the 1st time. Pray that God will move in people’s hearts, not just the Ethiopians, but also the North Americans. This is a unique opportunity to “unplug” for a week and think about what is most important, how much God loves us, and the opportunity to share that love with others. The team is together all week as they get up early and eat breakfast together, share a devotion together of what God is teaching them, load up in vans and share Christ with Ethiopian brothers and sisters, come back to hotel and share meal together, share evening debrief time where they sing, pray and talk about all that God did during the day, and then collapse from exhaustion.

Check back regularly for prayer requests and stories from the mission field. We arrive in Addis early Sunday morning (8 hours ahead) & I’ll do an update on arrival.

Please pray that:

• flights would be on time and connections would go well

• bags would make it to Addis Ababa on time

• Ethiopian hearts would be receptive to the message of the Gospel

• Unity between the North Americans and Ethiopian partners

* safety & health for North American family members at home

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