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Ethiopia 2017- Ethiopia here we come

Tomorrow (Friday, 14th) the 1st Ethiopia team will get on an airplane for the 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 6 months ago. Our training and preparation for Ethiopia has consisted of 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

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Thank You!

Good morning! Watermark “Team 4” made it back to DFW Sunday afternoon safe & sound…and we just wanted to THANK each of you for praying, supporting, and interceding for us this past week!  We definitely felt your prayers & support!

Here is a picture from our group on our last day with the local church translators and disciple-makers.  This was taken right after a huge worship celebration thanking the Lord for all He did this week…as we sang in both amharic (Ethiopian language) and english!  THANK YOU!!

Ethiopia2016

 

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Renouncing Generational Sin (Thursday, Aug. 4th)

Today was a very fruitful day for team 3 (Calvin, Adolfo, Ann, Johnna). All four teams headed up a road leading into a predominantly Muslim area in the Ethiopian mountains. Team 3 was the last to be dropped off and was located in the most rural area of all the teams. This was very fitting because it was a farming village and the soil was very fertile for the gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

Immediately after getting off the bus, Ann was approached by a cross-eyed man who was walking to the market. He seemed startled by the friendliness of the ferenge (Ethiopian term meaning “foreigner”) and was happy to engage in conversation. Shortly into sharing the gospel message, the man said that he believed and wanted to accept Jesus as his personal Savior!  It was clear that Jesus had been working on this man’s heart before today. Ann also spent the rest of the morning engaging in conversation with people who wanted to accept Christ as Lord, including a grandmother, mother, and her grandson!

 

Also, a short while after Team 3 arrived in the field, Calvin and his translator engaged in conversation with a woman who was a farmer.  Her husband had left her and she lived at home with her nine-year-old daughter. The woman said she grew up in the village and practiced the Orthodox faith and believed that the angels Gabriel and Michael intercede to God for her sins. After about 45 minutes of conversation, the woman began to open up and asked that Calvin, the translator, and a disciple-maker come to her house to pray over her because she needed healing. Upon arrival at her house, the team read the story of Jesus healing the bleeding woman in Mark 5, and the woman began to realize the healing power of Jesus. She began to open up and confessed to having witchcraft beads that were passed down from her mother who had them passed down to her from her mother.  These beads were used as a form of worship to spirits and these spirits come to her and haunted her at night. The woman said that the spirits threatened her and are the reason for many bad things that have happened in her life. It was communicated that Jesus is much more powerful than any evil spirit, and her face immediately reflected a heart of relief.  The woman decided to accept Jesus and gave the witchcraft items to be taken away and burned. The translators and disciple-makers prayed over the woman and her daughter (who was with her), and the team took the items and left.  The Ethiopians have seen the destruction these evil spirits have caused in their community and made a very big deal of this woman renouncing the witchcraft that was practiced by generations of her family.  The power of God has now set her free from these sprits because she has accepted Jesus Christ as her Savior!  We finished the day back at the church where we started our day, where we prayed, thanked God through stories and song…and even burned the witchcraft items, as the woman requested.

 

[Written by Calvin and Ann]

 

Prayer request:

 

  1. Pray for the changed lives of those who encountered and received Christ today. Pray that the Lord will radically capture their heart so they can be a light to those in their village.
  2. Pray for the fruits of this week’s labor. Many have been saved because of the hope found in the gospel, and even more have heard and are open to knowing more. Pray that the disciple-makers and evangelists can continue to pursue and grow the relationships of those who desire to know more about Christ.

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Love Your Neighbor (Wednesday, Aug. 3rd)

Today was an incredible day for Team 4 (Michael, Ky, LeAnne, and Paige). Tarikwa, one of our e3 hosts and translators, invited us into her and her husband Demeke’s home for lunch. It was a wonderful moment to slow down, enjoy a coffee ceremony, and spend some time worshipping with our translators and disciple makers.

On our way out of the village, Tarikwa insisted we stop and talk with her neighbor and her children. This woman was a significant leader in the community, an Orthodox witch doctor, and had been persecuting Demeke and Tarikwa for over a year for their faith and evangelism within the community. We were greeted at the gate by two of her daughters and soon welcomed into their house to sit and talk. Tarikwa and David (our translators), Ky, Rick (our e3 team leader) and I (Paige) entered and sat with several of the children around their living room. As it turned out, their mother, the witch doctor, wasn’t home. They introduced themselves one by one, and then one daughter left the room. When she returned she was carrying her younger sister Desta, a 10-year-old girl who was severely physically and mentally crippled. We engaged with Desta, and though she was nonverbal, she smiled and made eye contact frequently. I shared the Evangecube with the children in the home as David translated, telling them about the free gift of grace in Jesus Christ. They were patient and listened, and Desta gifted us with many more smiles as she listened along. I had just finished the story, and we were beginning to dialogue about having a choice to make with this gift when their mother walked in suddenly. Very suddenly. She asked what we were doing in her home, and Tarikwa explained that we were her friends from America who had come to Ethiopia to visit and share good news. She asked if we could share the same news with her that we had just shared with her children, to which she agreed. Ky then shared the Evangecube as Tarikwa translated. The same woman she had been persecuting was now sitting on her couch telling her about the hope in Jesus alone for the forgiveness of sins. When she initially entered the house her face was hard and her demeanor seemed skeptical, at best. But with Ky and Tarikwa’s patience and persistence to love her well in speaking truth, we saw her slowly soften right before our eyes. The Lord had been working through His people in this community, and it was clear He had been working in this woman’s heart. And so, before we knew it, she and her daughter were praying- confessing Jesus as Lord and making the choice to put their faith in him for the forgiveness of their sins. We rejoiced and celebrated with them for our two new sisters who inherited the Kingdom of Heaven today.

Then I got to pray for Desta- an incredibly sweet moment. Last night I got to share the story of my favorite (non-Messianic) man in the Bible, Mephibosheth. The son of Jonathan, he was a boy crippled by his flesh. A cripple would likely be destined to a life of sorrow, begging for any scraps the world could offer. But, because of the kindness and grace of his father, Mephibosheth was given an invitation to come and dine at the king’s table (2 Samuel 9). This is the message that we have seen change hearts and lives in Ethiopia this week. It is not by our works or anything we could do. We are all sinners, crippled by our flesh. But, because of the undeserved kindness shown to us by our Heavenly Father, we have been given an invitation to come and dine at the King’s table forever. Praise the Lord, for He is a good, good Father!

 

[Written by Paige]

 

Prayer Request

 

  1. Pray for our new sisters in Christ. Pray that the mother would use her power and influence in the community for the advancement of the Gospel. Pray that Desta would know she is loved as a child of God.
  2. Pray for our translators and disciple makers who faithfully walk into resistance and persecution in their communities day after day.
  3. Pray for our team as we prepare for the last field day of 2016. May the Gospel be shared, hearts be changed, churches be planted, lives be restored. May our time here bring new disciple makers for 2017, and many more years to come.

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From darkness into light… Tuesday update

The wifi at the hotel is working again so here is the update from Tuesday.  I spoke with the team & everyone is healthy & safe & will post a Wednesday story in couple hours.

TUESDAY UPDATE:  Today on our way out to the village, Demeka (e3 regional coordinator) shared with our team (Myrinda, Kimo, Dolly and David) that the predominate religion of the area was Orthodox and that they also practiced witchcraft & traditional African idolatry (worship of trees, earth, etc).  The van doors opened and everyone on the team began to separate with a disciple maker and translator to begin to engage with the people of the village. The team was sharing up and down the streets of the village and as lunch time started to approach Demeka, Takaley, and I (Myrinda) began to walk down the street and just pray for the village and the conversations that our team members were in. We stopped in front of this beautiful view of several mountains, Dawed (disciple maker) pulled out a piece of paper and began to explain to us that those mountains were idols of the village. Demeka asked me to pray and then we would go to the van for lunch, little did we know God would provide a divine appointment for us after our prayer. I prayed that the Lord would break down the idols of the village, open their eyes to the truth, help them to see that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. I prayed that He would raise up a leader and that this leader would change the direction of this village from worshipping the creation to worshipping the Almighty Creator. After I finished praying we began to walk to the van and I saw an older man dressed in white garments, he looked like a leader and very important to the village. I asked Demeka if this was a witch doctor and he said yes. I immediately was excited, nervous, but most all thankful and in awe of the Lord to provide this opportunity. I started to pray again, Lord you have opened this door, use me to share your truth. Demeka and I started to engage with him and I shared the Evangecube with him and that we all have a choice we have to make, we have to accept or reject this gift from God. He had some question and Demeka continued to talk with him. David on our team walked up during that time and I shared with him what was going on.

Story by Myrinda

 

I (now David sharing his version of what happened) saw that the witch doctor was trying to end the conversation so he could leave, so I asked if I could ask the man one more question. He obliged, and I said “we are all going to die someday, and when we do we will stand before God. When you die and stand before God and He asks you ‘why should I let you in to heaven with me for eternity, what will your answer be?,’” He responded that it was through Jesus that he would be granted entrance into heaven. His answer seems to be 100% legit, yet strange for a witchdoctor.  We had seen several folks in our two days who mixed Orthodox beliefs with witchcraft, and he was giving his response from the Orthodox viewpoint. We’ve also learned to clarify with the Orthodox if they mean just Jesus alone to be saved or Jesus plus good works. I asked him this question, and he confirmed that it was Jesus plus good works. Demeka shared Ephesians 2:8-9  with him to emphasize from God’s Word that it is not our works that save us but the a free gift of God through Jesus alone. We spent the next 10-15 minutes graciously going back and forth with the witchdoctor on this issue from different angles leading to the same answer. As he was responding, I realized with sorrow in my heart that this man did not have much time left on this earth and I was prayed silently, pleading with the Lord to remove the scales from his eyes so he could see the Truth. The Lord provided again! After we helped separate the issues of salvation and good works by explaining that we FIRST need Jesus’s perfect sacrifice alone to be saved which is THEN followed by us doing good works because we love God so much for saving us; his eyes were finally opened! Demeka and I huddled together with this man in full view of several people of the village, and Demeka led him in a prayer to confess his new belief in Jesus Christ as Lord and His death, burial, and resurrection as the only basis for his salvation! A disciplemaker will be following up with him to get him connected to the local church and disciple him.  This man who started the day as a witch doctor with strong Orthodox beliefs ended his day by becoming a child of God! Praise God that He made and will continue to make His name more famous in that village through this man!

Story by David

 

 

I have no doubt the Lord provided this opportunity and opened this man’s heart to hear and eyes to see this truth. I am in awe of the Lord, His work, and that He would use us to lead this man to Him. The Lord is at work in this country and I am excited to get back to America to share truth without needing a translator or having a language barrier.

 

The North American team is in good health & everyone is excited to see how God is moving.

 

Prayer Requests:

 

  • Pray for our new brother to be rooted and grounded in his new belief and Jesus. Pray that God will use this man to draw more people in the village to Himself.
  • Pray that God will be glorified in this village and for the powers of witchcraft and idols to be broken.
  • Pray for continued unity with our Ethiopian partners
  • Pray for continued open doors for the gospel

 

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Open doors, softened hearts…

Our team (Brandon, Charran, Rachel, Abby and Derek) spent the day working in a village southwest of Addis which is known for being predominantly Muslim. The van doors opened, we piled out on a busy street, and we were met by a curious and friendly crowd of Ethiopians. As word spread about our arrival, groups began to form and we spread out along the street; playing with the kids and sharing the evangecube. To our surprise about 45 minutes into our visit, a man (a prominent Muslim leader) and woman approached the crowds in anger, disturbed that we there sharing our beliefs in their village, with their children. They were successful in causing a distraction, dismissed the crowd and asked us to leave. In an effort to seek peace and diffuse what could have escalated into a more heated situation, we changed our tone and asked for an opportunity to hear from them. Within 3 minutes the weather changed from a light sprinkle to a heavy downpour. Eager to get out of the rain, the woman offered us shelter in her home nearby. Tarikwa (e3 host and translator), Abby, Rachel and I (Charran) followed her to back to her home and she invited us to sit and continue the conversation. About 5 minutes in, the Muslim leader who was unhappy about our presence, joined us in the house. We cautiously continued our conversation, but with the goal to hear more about his faith and the Muslim beliefs. Common ground was finally reached after he realized we were seeking peace and coming in love. He then allowed us to walk through the gospel using the evangecube; we both agreed that we believed that God was perfect and that all had sinned. Over the next two hours, his demeanor changed and the man who was once filled with anger and rage, now wore a smile. He shared that he would love to have the opportunity to meet with the disciple maker (local pastor/Christian) and learn more about the Bible and ask questions; he even wanted to bring the Quran and compare scriptures. Our conversation ended with a coffee ceremony amongst new friends. The Lord certainly opened doors and softened hearts in a way that we could have never imagined. We left encouraged by the way our morning had ended— no longer enemies but friends.

(Written by Charran James)

Prayer Requests:

Pray for Abdul (Muslim leader) as he seeks truth after a spirit lead discussion. Pray that he would come to believe in Jesus and that his village would come to know Christ as their savior because of his leadership.

Pray for continued health for our team; all are feeling well and spirits are high after day one of ministry.

Pray for more open doors, softened hearts and divine appointments.

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Watermark team 4 arrives in Ethiopia

Watermark team 4 has arrived safe & sound in Ethiopia.  After 20 hours on an airplane and it being 3:30 AM (8 hours ahead of Dallas), the team is ready to get some rest.  The team is checking in the hotel to get a little rest and will get up in the morning and travel to the mission sites on the West side of Addis Ababa.

Please pray for:

  • rest for North Americans
  • unity with Ethiopian partners
  • clarity in sharing the gospel message and open hearts
  • many churches to be planted
  • safety as the team travels Ethiopian roads to reach the remote mission sites

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About to head to the airport!

Hey all,

We are about to eat our final meal and then head to the airport! Please continue to pray for safe travels and on-time travel. Lord willing, we’ll be safely back in Dallas in roughly 28 hours!

God bless from Ethiopia.

Trip 3

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Another great day in Ethiopia

Hey all,

We had another great day here in Ethiopia.  The highlight was a stop that was originally not even on our schedule before leaving Dallas.

This morning, we got to visit an amazing ministry: Women at Risk.  Women at Risk exists to serve and help women who are victims of prostitution.  We were extremely encouraged by the work that is happening in and through this ministry.  For strategic and specific reasons, we will remain vague about some of the specifics of their work, but be free to ask any of us for more information once we are back in the States…we would be able and willing to share more.  Some of the folks on our team said that this visit was their favorite part of our trip so far.  It was that impactful.

Both travel and health continue to go well…please pray that would be the case for our (roughly) final 48 hours until we arrive back in Dallas!  We will try to update the blog one more time tomorrow before we leave our hotel for the final time (around 6:00 PM here, around 10:00 AM in Dallas).  But, if you don’t hear from us, no news is good news!

With love from Ethiopia.

Trip 3

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Full hearts!

Hey friends,

We have two days worth of stories for you today (now that the wifi is back up and working).  The first is from Wednesday, followed by today.

 

Yesterday (Wednesday):

Diverse in everything except one thing.

Hello blog followers!  Team 1 here, and we had (another!) great day today…praise God!  Thank you for your prayers…we know they are a huge reason, if not the only reason, we continue to see and experience God’s grace and provision this week.

The day started out “less than ideal” based on how we would normally think: raining, traffic, couldn’t find what we were looking for, closed roads because of the rain, and mud everywhere.  All of that led to a slower, and later than anticipated/planned start to our day.

Once we finally got out in the field and started sharing with folks, the bubbles and evangecubes came out in full force.  There were three different groups of people and conversations going on, and it was a “typical” (in a really good way) scene for the week.  Multiple kids made professions of faith, and there was a lot of laughter and smiles.

After sharing with one group, a young woman approached one of us and said, “Excuse me, could I please talk to you for a minute?” in perfect English!  The two of us who were there were so shocked to hear such great English out of this sweet Ethiopian gal.  She said, “I’m a Christian, too.  Would you please come have coffee in my home?”  To which we replied, “Of course!”

While in her home, the environment couldn’t have been more diverse:  ages ranging from 4 to 70, men and women, black skin and white skin, Ethiopian food and American food, English and Amharic (Ethiopian language).  That is, except for one thing: a faith in Jesus Christ.  It was such a beautiful picture of the diversity that we have in Christ; a diversity that He didn’t come to save us from, but to save us in.  It reminded us of the unity we have in Christ (Ephesians 4), and it was an extremely refreshing and fulfilling time together.  The perfect “solution” to a slow, rainy, unplanned start to our day.

We doubt we’ll ever see them again on this side of death, but we already can’t wait to enjoy each other’s diverse company again in heaven someday.

Everyone on the trip is continuing to feel well, and while we are physically tired, we can’t wait for our last “ministry day” tomorrow.  Please pray for it!

 

 

Today:

Thank you for praying and partnering with us!  This afternoon we finished our formal ministry time with a great celebration.  Our team is humbled by how gracious our hosts have been to us this week.  We started our celebration by gathering at a church where our hosts held a coffee ceremony, served us popcorn, cake and tea.  They honored the team by calling each person by name to the front with celebratory clapping and thankfulness for our service.  I can only imagine this is what heaven may be like when we arrive home and the Lord says ‘well done good and faithful servant’.  All were grateful for how our Ethiopian friends invited us to partner with them in sharing the hope of Christ.  We celebrated with prayers of gratitude, singing praise to the Lord and much dancing and clapping.  Again, another shadow of eternity as we worshipped the God of the Universe!

We concluded with exchanging small gifts, many hugs, a few tears and lots of pictures.  We are all physically exhausted from a full week but our hearts overflow with thankfulness!  Tonight as I replay the day I am reminded of Paul’s exhortation from Philippians 2 and the majesty of Jesus and would like to share it with you.  May it encourage you as you carry the hope of Christ in Dallas and Fort Worth.

Therefore, God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father!

God bless from Ethiopia!

Trip 3

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