Ethiopian Spring (May 2006): Part 4
In Part 1 we explained our goals for this trip and we focused on my parents’ role. Part 2 reported on the ministries we had planned. In Part 3 we discussed following up on the ministries of previous trips. In this report, we want to focus on unexpected ministries and situations, particularly those that involved our children.
Our Lord delights to give good things to His children! One of those “good things” was the possibility of attending the graduation of 3 of my Ethiopian “sons.” Biruk comes from a well-established Christian family in Hosanna; he graduated from the Addis Ababa Bible College but is still unsure of his place in the Kingdom for ministry. David and Nigussie (left) graduated from the Evangelical Theological College and are returning to their native Alaba for full-time ministry in evangelism and leadership. David received the Christian Service Award and Nigussie received both the Academic Excellence and the Leadership Awards. I thought I was going to absolutely pop with pride! In my front row seat I was able to get some good pictures of the occasion. What a special joy to share these occasions with my sons’ natural families! David’s parents (right) sat beside me on the front row; it was their first time in the capital city. His father is a leader in his village; once he persecuted the Christians, but now he is considering the Gospel. Although we cannot speak a word of a common language, the love between us is real. (Please pray diligently for his salvation.) Nigussie’s father passed to heaven several years ago, but his mother remains; she is one of the most gentle, humble women I’ve ever met! How thankful I am to these parents for allowing me to adopt their sons!
A special joy was a party to celebrate a new name for David. He was born with the name Ahmed, which means one who honors Allah. At the party, David explained his name change. “Who is Allah? We know there is no such god. How can I honor someone who doesn’t exist?” Now his name means “One who is loved.” What a difference! Our Lord has His special hand of blessing upon David, and it is an honor beyond words to be called his Mama B!
You remember Bereket; our website is full of his story. He was born Azanou (“Sorrowful”), blinded at age 4 because of tribal markings that became infected, introduced to us in November 2004, and by the loving providence of our God given a cornea transplant in August 2005. He has regained almost all his eyesight in his right eye; the left one is irreparable. While we were there, his sutures were removed and this month he is being fitted with reading glasses. He is enrolling in a private school in Gondar. Our Lord has restored his physical vision, but the greatest story of all is that He has graciously restored also his spiritual vision. He is no longer “blinded by the god of this age.” In February 2005 Bereket embraced the salvation freely offered by Jesus and at that time he changed his name; Bereket means “blessing.” Bereket’s father was Jewish, belonging to the Fellasha group of Ethiopian Jews; he died about 7 years ago. His mother is a strong adherent to the Orthodox church of Ethiopia. Initially Bereket suffered much persecution because of his faith in Jesus; he was shunned, pressured, mocked, etc. It was a lonely life for him in his little village. But he has remained strong and has grown in his faith. He has also led his sister to the Lord. They regularly attend church in the town, and they meet weekly for personal discipleship with evangelists. What a joy to witness both the physical and spiritual growth taking place in Bereket! Our Lord is SO GOOD! He sees each little child, no matter how isolated they may be. And He loves each precious one! It is such a PRIVILEGE to be allowed by Him to share His redemption of these ones! (Please continue to pray for the salvation of Bereket’s mother.)
Bereket is blessed because he lives only a few miles from a larger town that has an evangelical church. Persecution of evangelicals in this town has slowed, but it remains high in other parts of northern Ethiopia. (When I was a child I was stoned by children in the north, spurred on by the Orthodox priests.) Word has spread about the work God has given us of gathering funds for the building of churches in Alaba. A leader of the churches in the north approached me, asking for help for their churches also. But God has not called us to help them at this time; we must stay focused on our assignment. I assured this leader, however, that if anyone reading this report senses the Spirit telling them to help these northern congregations, then we will be faithful to forward any gifts. So, if you want more information about this situation or want to send a gift, please contact us.
Emebet is our “daughter.” The Lord gave me some good quality time with her this trip. She is from a large town to the south called Shashamanee. Her mother died when she was 5 years old, and her step-mother threw her out of the house. She made her way to the capital and for 8 long years she was one of the approximately 100,000 abandoned street children. (For reports on these children, go here.) Once, she and I were riding in a taxi; children gathered around to beg while we waited for the light to change. I asked her “Emebet, did you used to beg like this?” “Yes,” she answered. “And I slept there.” She pointed to an unkempt brushy area that served as “park,” latrine, shortcut, and wild dog refuge. How my heart ached for her, and how much I thank our Lord for bringing her to the SIM Mission Girls Home. Recently the government has been putting pressure on the mission to “discharge” the older girls in order to make room for younger girls. Emebet is now about 17; where will she go if “discharged”? Her family wants nothing to do with her; she is still in school; she has no place to go except back to the street. Please pray with us for her protection.
The final son I want to mention in this report is our natural son Nathan. As mentioned earlier, Nathan went with me on this trip for the purpose of assisting me with my elderly parents. Before the trip, Nathan said “Mom, I can’t preach or teach like Dad. I can only do construction and carpentry. The Ethiopians already know how to build houses; they’ve been doing it a lot longer than Americans. What kind of ministry can I have?” But with his usual servant’s heart, he was willing to go just to help me.
Our Lord, however, knew that He had other plans for Nathan. Not only was Nathan appointed to be present for the discussions of the new well-drilling apparatus, he was also appointed to discover a MAJOR problem in the construction of church buildings in Ethiopia. You see, termites are a big problem throughout southern Ethiopia. When concrete was introduced about 10 years ago, it was toted as preventing the damage of termites; however, no one taught the Ethiopians the correct placement of that concrete base. Until now, the wood supporting the building was place directly into the ground and the concrete was placed on either side; this design did not protect the wood because the termites gained access from the bottom! In the providence of our Lord, Nathan quickly
noticed the problem and a contractor was there to hear Nathan’s explanation. The concrete must be laid first, and then the wood built on top, so that there is no contact at all between the wood and the ground. Our Lord gave the contractor ears to hear, and now the construction design for all the church buildings is being changed. How thankful we are to our Lord that He kept us from building the churches in Alaba in the wrong way! Nathan’s diagrams are now being circulated throughout Ethiopia! Our Lord can use ANY giftedness for His Kingdom, even those classified as “unspiritual,” like construction! All He needs is our availability to serve.
The greatest ability is availability!
Mama B with her family at Biruk’s graduation
This report has been prepared by Becky Lynn (Lapsley) Black
If our Lord wants you to become involved with us in Ethiopia, please make your check payable to Becky Lynn Black. No tax-deductible receipt will be given, but a sincere thank-you note will be sent. 100% of your gift goes directly to the Lord’s church in Ethiopia. We pay our own expenses and we do not deduct for “administrative costs.” May our Lord bless you for your kindnesses to us and our brethren in Ethiopia.
August 17, 2006