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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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Ethiopia 2019 teams headed back to Africa

In a few short days (Friday, 12th) the 1st Ethiopia 2019 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 February over 5 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.

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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Updates about Congo Trip

If you’re looking for updates from our Congo trip, you can find them at the Watermark Justice page on Facebook. Enjoy!

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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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