All this week I’m sharing a journal from a life changing trip I took with the Bible League to Ethiopia. I know these journals will encourage your faith. Please read and share. Thank you!
Bible League Ethiopia Trip (Tuesday)
Tuesday is almost impossible to quickly journal or blog. Too much happened today for me to express any of it with the elegance and thoughtfulness it deserves. I saw the Kingdom of God advancing today through murderers, rapists, thieves, parents, children, college students, and communities. I saw a thousand reasons to give generously to the work God is doing in Ethiopia through the Bible League. I simply don’t know how to put into words what I experienced.
We traveled about 3 or so hours (150 miles) south from Addis Ababa through lush green mountains and valleys to the city of Hosaena. Our first stop was to visit a graduation service in the local prison. The prison holds thousands of men who have been convicted of serious to petty crimes. After meeting with the prison warden, we were ushered across the jail yard to a church service that had just started.
The room was full of about 300 male prisoners passionately praying, singing, and praising God. The energy of the room was overwhelming. The room was dimly lit, with light shining in through the back door entrance. The men sang and clapped with almost a warrior like joy. In the many prayers offered, there was a continual call and response rhythm. The leader would pray, the men would shout in unison, Amen!
Another pastor in our group gave a message and 20 or so men came up to the front to give their life to Christ. I was asked to pray for the new believers. To be honest, I felt very anemic in my ability to participate. I simply realized that this event was far bigger than anything clever I could say or pray. Instead, I just tried my best to pray that each man would be filled with the Holy Spirit and confident that they had been washed as white as snow.
After the message, we watched 90 men receive certificates for graduating from their discipleship Bible Study. In addition to the certificates, 40 or so of the men received Bibles as the tool to put into practice their new commitment and confidence in the Lord. Again and again I am seeing how the Ethiopian Bible League office views the Bible as a weapon of warfare, as a tool to equip Christians to reach others.
If the Word of God were a hammer, most American Christians seem to only use the side that pulls out nails. . . The Ethiopian church is using the hammer side as well.
After we left the prison, we ate a quick lunch and headed for another graduation for children. A tent was set in the yard of a Hosaena villager. Inside the tent, about 50 or so children and many parents were gathered to watch kids demonstrate their new found knowledge of the Bible and to receive gifts for graduating from their Bible study program.
After the program, the leaders where appreciated and graciously thanked. One of the Bible League leaders informed us that the leaders of this program were unable to have kids. They lived as parents for all the kids in the community, but they were unable to have children themselves. He called everyone in the room to pray that God would give this couple a baby.
I was asked to pray for the couple as they knelt on the grass floor. It seemed odd to me to pray for children to come to a couple that was literally parenting hundreds of kids through their obedience to God. It reminded me of how often God moves us forward to advance His kingdom, even when we still have unanswered prayers and deep sorrows.
After the kids received their gifts, we headed back to the bus and to another graduation of high school and college aged students. We walked through grassy fields, rows of corn, and simple grass thatched huts for about 15 minutes until we reached the church. They were in the middle of a Bible study. Once again we saw the miracle of a graduation and the power of God’s word. About 40 or so young adults received a Bible as a result of finishing their Bible study program. 40 young adults given the word of God to go out and reach others.
We sang, clapped, prayed, and rejoiced! By the time we headed back to the bus, it was almost dark. Dusk settling upon Ethiopia as we wander through green fields of grass, yellow rows of corn, and glory all around.
Simply can’t put into words what just happened. Regardless, I am thankful.