Letter to My Ethiopian Family
My dear Ethiopian family. How precious you are to me. The special love between us is a gift that very few faranjis know. It is a special gift from the Lord. How I praise Him for this wonderful blessing that He has given us over these past years.
When I think of each of you, I remember special times that we have had together. Difficult times, funny times, stressful times, happy times; we have truly been family, heavenly family together.
My time on earth is coming to an end according to the perfect plan of God. Many of you write emails to me but I am too weak to answer. I am writing this email by dictation to my daughter Karen. I want you to know that even though I do not answer you are still very much in my heart. I am getting weaker everyday now, I can eat very little, and some days I have much pain. But God is still with me, He has not forsaken me. I am eager to go see Jesus. I want to fall at His feet, I want to hold His ankles, I want to kiss His feet, I want to thank Him over and over for having mercy upon me.
My greatest prayer is that my death would be like Samsonís death. Do you remember the story of Samson? At his death he prayed to God, he asked God to give him strength to destroy the enemy of Israel. God heard his prayer. Samson pulled down the pillars and the Bible says that Samson killed more Philistines at his death than he did his entire life. I want to do more damage to the enemy of our souls at my death than I have during my whole life.
Will you help me do this? I have one last request of you. Let me explain. You know the custom in Ethiopia when somebody dies is to cry loudly, to wail, to do much demonstration of sorrow. Sometimes professional mourners are hired and there is much wailing. This is the Ethiopian way, but it is not the Christian way. At my death we have one last opportunity to show the Gospel to the unbelievers around us. What is the Gospel that we want to show to them? The Gospel is that Jesus has conquered death. The gospel is that those of us who belong to Jesus have no fear of death. The Gospel is that death is just one step in Godís plan of salvation. The next step is the resurrection of the body. God has promised that when Jesus returns those of us who have died in Him will be raised up from the grave. Our bodies will be given a new body, a resurrected body like Jesusís body.
My dear brother and sisters, my dear children in the Lord, how can we mourn and cry and wail and demonstrate sorrow, when we have such a great salvation? If you choose to mourn for me according to the Ethiopian custom you do me a great dishonor and you also dishonor the Lord Jesus. I want you to help me to show the Gospel to everyone around who knows me. All over Alaba, all over Burji, and all over Gonder. I want you to be singing in praise to the Lord Jesus who has conquered death. Do not let them see you cry. If you want to cry you must cry quietly in your own home. It is ok for you to feel sorrow but if you understand the gospel that sorrow is swallowed up with the joy of victory. So I want you to express that victory before the unbelievers and in this way you will help me to have a death that is like Samsonís.
Whatever has come from me and the years that I have had with you, the praise must go to Jesus. It is all his work. It is not my work, it is His work. If you have seen courage in me, it is His courage. If you have seen vision in me, it is His vision. If you have seen grace in me, it is His grace. If you have seen love in me, it is His love. Whatever good you have seen in me, it has come through me from our Lord Jesus and to Him goes all the praise. I look forward to seeing you in heaven, our home. And then I will speak Amharic perfectly and you will speak English perfectly. That will be a wonderful day.
Until that time I encourage you my brothers, my sisters, my children to be faithful. God has answered my prayer to keep me faithful to the end and now I pass that prayer to you. May you serve him with all your heart, with all your strength, with all your money, with all your ability. He is worthy of such service. And when it is your time to come to heaven only such service will have any value to you. Do not pursue the things of this world, do not pursue happiness, do not pursue wealth, do not pursue comfort, do not pursue honor, only pursue obedience to the Lord Jesus.
When someone asks you your occupation you should say joyfully, I am only a servant of the Lord Jesus. It is the best occupation in the world. I think this is the last letter I will send to you. Know that I love you. I appreciate you and I am thankful to the Lord for all the work we could do together for Him.
May His name be praised forever. Amen
P.S. Please translate this letter for all the churches. Thank you.
August 26, 2013