Today was a bit of travel, about seven plus hours on the bus. One again I saw some glorious countryside that was simply beyond my expectations of Ethiopia. The famine of the eighties (We are the World) kind of twisted my conception of the Ethiopian culture and landscape. Ethiopia is not a feeding camp or a medical treatment facility; instead it is a complex culture with a lush green landscape. . . At least during the rainy season.
Sadly, the world’s interest in Ethiopia and Africa seems to rise only in the face of famine, terrorism, or mineral deposits. These limited interests skew our perception of the people. The world might be getting smaller, but there is still a great chasm in understanding. I am keenly aware of the difficulty of really understanding each other from a global perspective.
As our bus enters a city or market, I see thousands of people with almost nothing but daily bread in their hands and on their faces. I see kids carrying kids on their backs as they drive carts carried by donkeys. I see 6 year-olds working the fields or getting water. I see old men sleeping by the side of a litter strewn road. I see millions of people who live otherworldly than I do. This is more than just poverty, it is rather a different understanding of existence.
It would be easy for me to paint a narrative of impoverished despair or a narrative of simplicity and contentment. I could point to the despair of a sick baby girl, or the smiles of a ping pong playing boy. There is so much contrast.
On Thursday, we started our journey on the shores of Lake Owassa. We saw some giant birds along with some beautiful flora and fauna. We saw people bathing, fishing, swimming, and sweeping the dirt walkway for future guests to travel. I wanted to see a hippo, but they were not obliged to make an appearance.
From Owassa, we traveled miles and hills and cities and valleys back to Addis Ababa. Ours is a God in people tour, not a God in nature tour, so we did not divert from the path to see the many lakes and streams that carved out the landscape. Instead, we drove and drove by thousands and thousands of carts, and cattle, and goats, and little shoeless kids yelling money, money, money.
Christ Jesus seems to be the only tie that binds me to any culture or person. Whether it is my neighbor next-door or an Ethiopian villager near Lake Owassa, Christ is my only hope for real community. I feel most at home here when we are praising and worshipping our God together. Even though the songs are unfamiliar, I am familiar with the breath of God that motivates the song.
It is Christ from first to last that will save every tongue, tribe, and nation. How we live out that faith will be as unique as the differences that permeate the amazing cultures of this planet.
I could make this Bible League campaign about poverty and despair, or I could make it about the dangerous threat of Muslim extremists, or I could make it about a myriad of observations I’ve made along the journey. Even though I will tell those stories, I will not end or even begin there. Instead I will root the need for Bibles in something more universal.
To put it plainly, the Gospel is advancing in Ethiopia. If we donate Bibles, thousands upon thousands of Bible planters will rise up to speed the Gospel into Ethiopia, Africa, and beyond. The fruit of such an endeavor will be eternal and everlasting.
Please unite with me, and donate to the Bible League today. Call 1-800-Yes-Word and tell them Doug Bursch from Fairly Spiritual sent you or click this link and donate securely online. Every dollar is rooted in bringing the Word of God to anyone who has ears to hear.