All this week I’m sharing a journal from a life changing trip I took with the Bible League to Ethiopia. Today is day 3. I know these journals will encourage your faith. Please read and share. Thank you!
Bible League Ethiopia Trip (Wednesday)
I don’t know if I’m a daily anything! This would also include journaling or blogging. Even so, I will try my best to write something. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Something.
That’s one of the oldest journal jokes around. I think if you read through Thomas Jefferson’s diary you’ll find at least one entry with the lone word “Something” scribbled boldly in the center of the page.
Actually, Thomas Jefferson is probably the worst example to pick. His smallest entry was probably something like, “Well I didn’t get much work done today, stayed in bed due to a mild case of consumption. Better get some sleep before I start coughing up blood again. . . oh yeah, I almost forgot, I made the Louisiana Purchase today. . . probably should have gotten Congress’ permission, but the price was too good to pass up. Oh well, what are you going to do. LOL are they gonna be mad.”
For those of you with a somewhat limited knowledge of early American history, that is probably not an exact Jefferson quote. Anyway, I better write something about the trip. And I will, without anymore hypothetical Jeffersonian asides.
On Wednesday we traveled through an amazingly green, mountainous landscape. The elevation was between 7,000 and 9,000 feet most of the journey. The countryside looks like nothing I’ve imagined. Tropical, green, and mountainous is not what I envisioned. Corn, banana, coffee and thatch roofed round huts mark the landscape. Glorious vistas greeted us at about every turn as we worked our way through the rolling mountain range.
Just about everything I thought about Ethiopia is wrong. This is most likely due to the limited pictures we saw in the 80s during the famine. In those days we saw brown, flat, feeding camps with tremendous desolation and despair. There are certainly many spots of extreme poverty, but there are also many areas of abundant life. The Ethiopian culture appears to be a complex cultural fabric.
We ended our bus ride in the village of Durame which is near Alaba Kulito. After checking out some hotel accommodations we realized that we would need to travel elsewhere for our night’s rest. However, before we traveled on, we stopped by a local church and interviewed Christian leaders as well as new Muslim converts.
It was heartbreaking to hear the stories of these young men who had recently faced persecution for becoming Christians. One young man talked about being hunted down by his family on several occasions. The family would have killed him if God, through the Christian church and local police, had not intervened. He had only been a Christian for three months, yet he had faced more hardship than most of us will ever face in a lifetime. Since becoming a Christian, he had been completely rejected by his family and forced to hide in the Christian community. He told us that he was following Jesus because God gave him a dream. A dream where he was asked to choose the Bible or choose hell. He chose the Bible, and therefore he is now a persecuted Christian.
When he finished his testimony, I asked how we could pray for him. He told us to pray for his family, that his family might be saved. Even while facing persecution, his eyes were not on his own needs, but on the needs of those who had been persecuting him.
Time after time I’m seeing the contrast of faith versus religion, passion versus going through the motions. When pastoring in the states I sometimes get frustrated with the lack of passion I see in our worship. For many Americans, the singing of songs or the clapping of hands or even the work of smiling in worship seems to be an excessive burden.
Ethiopia contrasts our lethargy in honoring our God and His Gospel. I am heartened by the fact that passionate, expressive, joyful worship is spreading throughout the world. Whether it’s Africa or South America or many Asian communities, passion defines the spread of the Gospel. If only this were true in America.
This trip has strengthened my conviction that I should never be ashamed of passionately worshipping and serving God, even if my worship contrasts the rebellion around me. It is heartening to know that fools for Christ are worshipping with reckless abandon throughout the world today and every day. They are giving their best time, money, and energy to God. They do this at the risk of tremendous persecution!
Today, after I heard these young Ethiopian men tell of the severe persecution they faced for saying yes to Jesus, I was reminded of my sacred task on this trip. I must do everything within my power to resource brothers and sisters such as these with the word of God.
Christianity is not defined by towering edifices, mosques, and blaring loud speaker calls to prayer. No, we are defined by a personal relationship with Christ that radically changes our hearts and homes. The tool to facilitate this transformation is and always will be the Word of God empowered by the resurrected presence of Jesus Christ.