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Trips

Ethiopia November 2015

Awassa, Ethiopia November 6-15, 2015

We are partnering with a national church denomination to start a training center for pastors in southern Ethiopia. Awassa is 5+ hours (depending on the road conditions) south of the capital, Addis Ababa. Ethiopia has had Christianity for almost two millennia (maybe since Acts 8) and it developed into the Coptic Church which is similar to the Eastern Orthodox Church. Coptics and Muslims have a strong presence in Ethiopia. Most of the evangelical pastors in this region have no training in the Bible and “strange doctrines” abound. There are 50+ pastors and church leaders being trained at this site. They are eager to learn the Scriptures and to teach it in their local churches. Please pray for this pivotal opportunity to strengthen the Churches in Ethiopia.

Follow along as teachers in the field offer their experiences as they share theological training with local church leaders.

Field Notes   Ethiopia November 2015

Nov  11th,  2015Daily Routine

It’s Tuesday and we’re starting to learn the routine. The Muslim call to prayer begins at 5:00 in the morning. The sky is getting brighter by 6:00. There is no activity in the kitchen before 7:00, but we can usually order breakfast by 7:15 and be eating by 7:45. Shortly after 8:00, we board two small vans for the 10-minute ride to the training site across town. The pastors and other church leaders are eager to learn. Many have had minimal training in how to interpret the Bible. Their eyes are being opened as they begin to understand the importance of good hermeneutics. There’s an excitement that comes with the recognition that one can dig deep into God’s Word when equipped with the proper tools. The room is abuzz whenever the participants are turned loose to work on short assignments. For some, previous assumptions are being challenged, but they are responding with courage and a willingness to learn. We take a short break mid-morning and mid-afternoon. The sweetened mixture of tea and coffee is delicious, while the participants continue to ply us with questions. Lunch is from 12:30 to 2:00. The food is delicious, and there is plenty of it. Classes resume at 2:00 and go until 5:00. It is dark again by 6:30, as we eat supper and prepare for the next day. The community shares their sounds with us late into the night. Pray that we may stay fresh and alert throughout the week, and that the participants will continue to discipline themselves for learning. What a wonderful privilege we have to be assisting these dear brothers and sisters in Christ in their understanding of the most precious of all gifts—God’s Word! Dick Albright
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Nov  11th,  2015Potholes and Praise

Note: Due to not having internet access we are posting several posts from earlier this week. It was a strenuous journey from the capital to the city of Hawassa where we are staying for the week. For this Midwest boy who is used to passing 1 or 2 cars every few miles (and that well within the driving lane), the frequent stops for goats, oxen, pedestrians, and spots in the road that could remove an axle was a jolting experience. I winced as we passed other vehicles within inches at highway speeds, but was quickly distracted by the new sights around me. With the exception of a few potholes, it’s a trip I simply wouldn’t change, because of the men who shared the space in the van with me—men from America and men from East Africa who have answered the call to preach and teach the Word of God. I have pretty short legs, so I sat up front next to one of the pastors who greeted us in Addis. Pastor Elias is one of the successors to our host pastor and has been shepherding the flock for about 12 years. He has a heart for the Word and to see lost souls come to a saving knowledge of Christ. The interaction with this experienced pastor was something I was hoping for. Don’t get me wrong, I love the time teaching and sharing such rich material with brothers and sisters who are hungry for it. However, I was also looking forward to hearing something of the challenges and blessings of life in the church from another pastor in the trenches. I asked questions and listened as Elias shared what may be similar challenges and opportunities for the contemporary church but in a much different cultural setting. We ached together for the church and laughed together when musing over perspectives that we both know are securely within the sovereignty of our heavenly Father—the One who loves His church more than we ever will. If the silence was too much this brother would break into song. I couldn’t understand it until he switched the melody to a pleasant “Hallelujah!” That word I know, and though my body was tired from the journey, my spirit was refreshed in the company of a man who never knew I existed a few hours earlier. I love the body of Christ, and we’re sharing that joy with many other brothers and sisters this week as we explore the importance of “rightly handling the Word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15). Thank you for your partnership and prayers.
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Nov  8th,  2015Arriving

As a thin orange line touches the horizon, I know that it is the coming of a new day in a totally different land. From our vantage point 30,000 feet in the sky, I ponder about how the Lord sees us. His beauty is over all creation, and His wonder is over all His works.

A column of clouds—no, two—mount up in the distance, rising up to what seems to be an invisibly pre-determined height, before they dissipate and spread into a flat sea. Both are in sync, and their tops form a long, wide oval over a land that lies still shrouded in darkness below.

Yellow hues now join the orange, and the sky begins to brighten in the east.

What will this day hold? Completely unknown faces. New people. New languages. New sounds and smells. New brothers and sisters in Christ, as yet unmet, but with a love and a hope as close to me as home. They are my brethren, and I will sing with them forever in the land where He is the Light. Maybe today, just maybe, I will share a taste of the eternal as we arrive from 8,000 miles away to revel together with God’s children.

Back home, it is now minutes from what we call bedtime. Not that people actually get into their beds at that hour, mind you, but the effort is surely in progress even now. Likely, my wife will gather most of the children—the younger ones—and she will read to them. The youngest will nurse and nearly drift off to sleep. The sound of her mother’s voice—now lilting, now rising, now soothing—will spin stories in her ears. Before they sleep, they will pray for me and ask that the Lord would use our team this week.

Outside again, now we can see. Spreading out below is a rumpled carpet of thick clouds. It bunches up to form ridges—mountains jutting above the landscape of a misty plain. Below, people are awaking. Some of them will greet me today—dearest friends I’ve never met. Some will bless me in the name of the Lord, and I will return the grace greeting.

May we truly be a blessing to God’s people this week. May the Lord be pleased to make our labors in the Word useful. May the light of the gospel shine ever more clearly as a result of God’s work here this week.

The dazzling light is stunning to my eyes now. All the world is awash in unblinking brightness. The sun has risen.

 

Frank Malizzo

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