It's That Time Again!
Ethiopia Team Number Nine is headed across the Atlantic on Wednesday, November 16th. They check into RDU Airport at 12 noon, and arrive at the guesthouse in Addis Ababa 27 hours later. During that journey, they will span the Atlantic Ocean, the European continent, the Mediterranean Sea, and North Africa (Sahara Desert).
The morning after they arrive in the capital, they will collect funds, the commentaries, buy bottled waters, get their body clocks adjusted, and head out to the Alaba district. This is a 6-hour drive over a 2-lane, pot-holed asphalt road that is covered with more donkey, cows, goats, and people than with cars or trucks.
Upon arriving in Alaba, the elders and evangelists of the Alaba "Mother" church. We affectionately call this church the "Mother Church" because it is the planter and nurturer of all the churches in Alaba. This church was started by 3 transplanted believers; they came to Alaba for business purposes, and started a church in 1978.....so the church has been in existence almost 25 years! During that time, they have planted about 20 other churches! And it is to these churches that God has appointed us to come alongside for purposes of evangelism and discipleship.
Our Ethiopia Teams do not dilly-dally around, playing the tourist. No, we start right to work, and we work all the way until the last day! This Team is composed of 7 people. May I introduce them to you?
Kevin Brown is an elder/pastor of Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church in Wilkesboro, NC. This will be his third trip to Ethiopia, and his second to Alaba.
He will be the "substitute MamaB" (AKA Administrator Servant) for the Team. His ministry is primarily teaching/discipleship. Five days he will be teaching a group of about 150 church leaders from the rural churches of Alaba. He will teach through the book of I Peter. Each of these men has won the privilege of attending the class by memorizing I Peter 4:13-16 (copy verses), and by reading the book thru three times. They have recited their verses and pledged their reading to Tilahun, who is now the coordinator of the work of the Mother Church.
All of these men travel from their villages, sometimes walking for hours or days. During this week of the Conference, they will sleep on the floor of the mother church, and we will give them 40 birr (about $2.35) for their lunch and supper. Kevin will teach 6 hours/day for 5 days, and at the end of the Conference the men will have earned a commentary on I Peter to take home to aid them in teaching their congregations.
In addition to this in-depth Men's Conference, Kevin will teach 2 Youth meetings and preach in a town and a village church on Sunday mornings.
Jason Hatley is a leader in the Bethel Hill Baptist Church in Roxboro, NC. This is his third trip to Ethiopia. Like Kevin, he will be teaching a Men's Bible Conference, but his class will be for the church leaders and evangelists living in the town of Alaba.
He will teach leaders from many different protestant denominations. (You are right....there is no denominational separation in the Lord's church! Agreement on the Gospel means unity in the Lord.) In addition to this conference, Jason will be preaching in town churches on both Sundays, and assisting Dale with the technical issues of Skype.
Dale Jennings is coming back to Ethiopia for the third time. Like Kevin, he's from the Wilkesboro church. In Alaba, he will return to the prison to teach thru the book of Colossians; he taught these believers in 2009 and is looking forward to being with them again.
It's a small group of about 20, but it is a needy field as they live in the midst of a Muslim prison. This class will be half-day in the afternoons. Each morning, Dale will head to a different village to teach the adult believers in the village church. And on Sundays, Dale will be preaching in the new Zobechame building! Its roof is not completed yet, but services are already being held there on Sundays. What a privilege...to preach in a building that is going up for the glory of God in the midst of this Muslim neighborhood! (By the way, we are still in need of about $7,000 to complete this funding.)
Additionally, Dale will be teaching a computer class (including how to use Skype) to a select group of church leaders. Please pray that this training will be effective. We are in bad need of better communication with the church since Nigusse has come here to the States to study with us. Typing in English, learning email, managing Skype....all of these things are challenges, but are necessary. (Our phone bills are currently killing us!)
And now we come to the womenfolk!
Cindi Jacobs is coming to Ethiopia for the umpteenth time! Almost every time I go, she goes! What a faithful servant! Her heart is in teaching women, so she will be going from church to church in the Town teaching 1/2-day sessions from the book of James.
The women in Ethiopia have a very difficult life, struggling to care for the needs of their families, without refrigeration, without water, without electric/gas stove, without a grocery store. It's impossible for them to leave their home responsibilities for even a full day. So these 1/2-day sessions are perfect for their responsibilities.
Cindi will teach the women in the mornings, and then go to the villages in the afternoon to teach the adults. Additionally, on Saturday morning, she will join with the girls and Dale in teaching classes of the Compassion International program in the Mother Church; about 250 children are in this program, so it will be a handful!
The young ladies on the Team are Katy Brown, Kandace Brown and Abigail Jacobs. Katy and Kandace are daughters of Kevin, and Abigail is the daughter of Cindi.
These young ladies will be working together, doing mostly youth and children's work. Joining with Cindi, they will do a creative presentation of the Lord Jesus' role in storms during the youth program. And they will have a class in the Compassion Program. But most of their time will be spent going from village to village to teach the children.
Their topic is "The Characteristics of the Kingdom," using Matthew 5 (Beatitudes) as the basis. They will take an item and then demonstrate that in the life of Jesus. For example, one beatitude says "Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled." This is demonstrated in the life of Nicodemus who came to Jesus with a starving soul, even though he was a religious leader and knew all the right rituals of religion. Jesus shared the Gospel with him...."You must be born again." Sometime later, Nicodemus was clearly a part of the new group of believers. His hungering had been satisfied in his re-birth. Yes, those who hunger for righteousness will be satisfied. (Friend, are you hungering for righteousness....or are you satisfied with mere religiosity?)
Whenever these young ladies are working with the children of Alaba, they will distribute Kids Kards. These are laminated cards, about the size of bookmarkers. On each side of the card is a statement about Christ and a picture that goes with the statement. For example, "Jesus is the Good Shepherd" and a picture of a shepherd carrying a lamb is on one card. Our goal is to make hundreds of these, so that the countryside of Alaba is blanketed with these Truths about our Lord. The cards are almost indestructible. It is our prayer that, thru the children, they will make their way into the hands of those searching for righteousness (HIS righteousness) and their souls will come to a knowledge of the true and living God, and the Savior whom He has sent. (Special thanks to Karen Godwin of Bethel Hill for helping put these together, and to the Lord Jesus for giving us this idea!)
In the midst of all these teaching activities, the Team will be praying with the evangelists, visiting the sick, connecting with church leader Oshe from Burji (and setting up Skype for the Burji church), challenging and encouraging people on a personal basis.
The Team will say goodbye to Alaba on Monday, Nov 28 and drive back to the capital Addis Ababa. They depart Addis on Tuesday evening, and will land, Lord willing, at Raleigh-Durham airport at 5:41pm on Wednesday, November 30. Yes, they will be exhausted......but I can tell you that there is no exhaustion that is so rewarding as exhaustion in the work of the Lord Jesus for His Kingdom!!! To do His work is more rewarding than marriage, than children, than grandchildren, then pleasures (sex, sports, entertainment, etc), than health, than wealth, than career! No matter what you name, the exhilaration that comes from His work FAR EXCEEDS the things of this world! Friend, do you know that exhilaration? Or are you still wallowing in stagnant pools of pleasures. Lift your eyes to His Kingdom, His work, His person....and everything else shows itself to be the junk that it is. It's like putting pure gold next to costume jewelry gold.....all contrast and no comparison! Why settle for costume when you can have the real thing??? It doesn't make sense to settle for junk when the Lord Jesus is offering us the real thing!
Now, we come to the last persons on the Team....YOU! Yes, you are part of the Team, and your Number One role on the Team is to pray. It's hard work...it's not for wimps! The Evil One will try to destroy you thru distraction, thru mis-placed priorities, thru doubts and fears, thru fatigue, thru busy-ness.
But your work is essential! Will you stand up and be counted for the Team? Will you set yourself, discipline yourself, rest in His power to do the work?
1. Spiritual keenness....to hear His voice, to sense His spirit, to live in His power, to rest in His character, to be faithful servants until the very end.
2. Communication....with each other, with the Ethiopian partners (translator, church administration), with the Ethiopian people (evangelists, sick, conference attendees, women and children, prisoners, folk 'accidentally' encountered), to overcome cultural differences and language barriers and fatigue that threaten to undo communication.
3. Efficiency...with administrative details, with schedule, with logistics, with meals.
4. Physical and Spiritual safety....in travel, in diet/digestive/food poisoning, in dealing with angry people, in dealing with fears and separation-from-family issues, in guarding personal worship times.
5. Mama B and Papa B....to release our "children" to the Lord's keeping, to rejoice in His appointed place for us on this trip.
6. Family left at home...in dealing with fears and separation issues, for peace and safety in life here during this time.
7. Eternal Benefit...that the fruit given will remain for HIs eternal purposes, that these 2 weeks will live in Eternity because the Savior was lifted up and people responded with surrender to HIs purposes for them.
November 15, 2011