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Ethiopia (Hawassa) March 2016

Hawassa, Ethiopia March 18-27, 2016

We are partnering with a national church denomination to start a training center for pastors in southern Ethiopia. Hawassa 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. Teaching: Biblical Theology

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

Mar  27th,  2016Light Is Overcoming Darkness

For many of you as I write this post, you are still sleeping in the darkness. But already here in Ethiopia, which is resurrection Sunday in the west, I can declare that “the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining” (1 John 2:8). Our TLI team has witnessed so many evidences of resurrection-secured grace this week.

Every day the church leaders came expectant and excited, eager to learn more from God’s word. There is no other story like the story of God’s glory in Christ, for in it alone do we learn of true power, true salvation, and true hope. False teaching is abounding in this country, but their is a rising hunger for proper biblical training. We have a God who, from Genesis to Revelation, from creation to consummation, saves the desperate, exalts the humble, despises the proud, heals the broken, helps the weak, and shines light into darkness, all for Christ’s glory and the good of his people.

On Friday and Saturday the Lord surprised me by letting me find a lost “son,” whom we were never able to adopt but whom we have loved and for whom we have prayed seven years. Not only did I get to embrace him, but I made an amazing connection with his mother. The Lord has been very kind in so many ways, and all of us on the team rejoice that God has let us see his hand at work in such powerful ways.

We leave for the airport in just a little while, returning to our families and churches with more than we came. We have witnessed the power of God to transform, preserve, protect, and equip. If you are considering joining a TLI trip, I highly encourage you to step out in faith, trusting our God who both supplies and who is always faithful to act for the sake of his name. 

Jason S. DeRouchie, PhD
Associate Professor of Old Testament and Biblical Theology
Bethlehem College & Seminary

Psalm 86:9 – "All the nations you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name.”

Our Awasa Team consisted of Dr. Jason DeRouchie (Professor at Bethlehem College & Seminary in Minneapolis), Ryan Eagy and Peder Kling (Bethlehem Seminary students), Dr. Joost Nixon (Pastor of Christ Church in Spokane, Washington and soon-to-be TLI Staff member in Minneapolis), and Steve Krogh (International Trainer with TLI based in West Chicago).

This is our last post.

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Mar  26th,  2016God moves in mysterious ways

Throughout the week, we have been working hard to show our fellow Ethiopian pastors that God works to bring order into chaos. There is no darkness through which God cannot shine, there is no emptiness which he cannot fill, nor are there purposes which he cannot attain. Marvelous things happen when divine words are spoken into chaos. This week, in this small corner of Ethiopia, evidences of God's creative hand have been evident. I praise God for his loving and kind wisdom. 

Two stories draw me to say this. 

1. Our final moments with the students. Friday morning (through the end of lunch) was a time of celebrating what God had done throughout the week. After a time of singing, it was wonderful to hear testimonies from these pastors who had received God's word in a fresh and powerful way. Many talked of ambitions to bring the whole-Bible material (i.e., Biblical Theology) they learned back to their areas of influence. God was gracious to let us print out 60 copies of the 20 images we used (they show the Bible story from Genesis to Revelation) for each of the church leaders. These pictures will enable them to teach the material the way we taught it. One pastor expressed a long-term plan that involved 30(?) hours of formal class time that would teach the Biblical-Theology material we just taught. We pray that God is gracious enough to bring the light of the gospel story - from genesis to revelation - to the Ethiopian churches, and onward. May God empower these church leaders to carry out the several ambitions expressed that deal with training more Ethiopian leaders with the material they learned this week. Through Ethiopian nationals, may God bring glorious order into the chaos of Ethiopia through the a rich and Bible-saturated knowledge of the Son.

2. God 's kindness to the DeRouchie family. Without going into too much detail, God brought us to a Christian social worker who was able to find a child whom the DeRouchie family considers one of their own. Years of prayer and tears have been put into this child. Within hours of meeting with the social worker - when we felt as though we were finding a needle in a haystack - we received a phone call. The social worker found the child and his mother, and we were able to spend precious time in a small African hut with them. Saturday morning, we enjoyed an Ethiopian coffee ceremony with the child's mother, in her home. God's creative and wise hand truly seems to be bringing order into chaos as he is answering years of prayer.

My heart and mind recall the old hymn,  

God moves in a mysterious way

His wonders to perform

He plants his footsteps in the sea 

And rides upon the storm.

And of course, Romans 11:33, 

Oh the depths of the riches of the wisdom of God!

How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!  

Peder Kling

2nd year Seminary Student 
Bethlehem College & Seminary 

Pray for safe travels home, and that the team will be able to process all that God has done this week. Pray for the Ethiopian pastors as they set out to teach and preach the glory of God in the whole Bible story that points to Jesus.

Our Awasa Team consists of Dr. Jason DeRouchie (Professor at Bethlehem College & Seminary in Minneapolis), Ryan Eagy and Peder Kling (Bethlehem Seminary students), Dr. Joost Nixon (Pastor of Christ Church in Spokane, Washington and soon-to-be TLI Staff member in Minneapolis), and Steve Krogh (International Trainer with TLI based in West Chicago).


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Mar  25th,  2016Goodbyes and Hellos


This morning we said our goodbyes to an amazing class of church leaders.  And no matter whether they are in English or Amharic, goodbyes are always “sweet sorrow”.  We have grown to love our brothers and sisters who are serving here in Awassa and the surrounding cities.  They have a passion to see the gospel of Jesus Christ spread far and wide, and they have been eager to hear God’s word, allow it to penetrate their hearts, and respond accordingly with worship!   It is often said, but teachers receive many blessings from their students, and our trip was no exception.  Set between a concrete wall and a Kenyan banana tree with a bright red flower, inside a barely lit conference room, under a ripening mango tree, or crammed into a small and hot classroom, the power of God’s word and his mighty plan for the salvation of his children through the all atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ transcends cultures and languages and gives us joy in our Father’s mighty hand and the ever present work of the Spirit.

We give our many thanks to Pastor Tesfaye who has diligently served our team!  He has helped run us back and forth between locations and is always encouraging us with his kind words.  He loves church leaders and serves them well.  May God continue to bless him and his family as they endeavor to see many people satisfied with God in Ethiopia.   

Even as Steve and Joost drive back to Addis Ababa to catch their flights back home tonight (pray they are safely on a plane as you read this!), we continue to say “hello”.  Our remaining team (Jason, Peder, and myself) were able to meet a beautiful group of ladies who work in a foster home, taking care of children who were abandoned on the streets of Awassa.  Their tenderness and compassion made even the small, dark rooms come alive.  Three bedrooms with four to five children in each were cared for by a loving room-mom who encourages babies to crawl, feeds each child their bottle, and in general “mothers” the orphans God has put into their care.  The courtyard teemed with toddling children (most of whom were scared by the tall, white men) and the knowing smiles of the women who have given up careers to care for the least of those here in Awassa.

And the hellos didn’t even stop there.  We met an Ethiopian brother who is working to share the gospel all over this country and God providentially found some long lost family—both are stories probably better left for another post.  However, I can’t help but marvel at our amazing God!  We do not deserve any of the grace he gives us.  Even after receiving saving grace we don’t deserve to see how and where his hand is at work. But as a loving father would, he gives us moments where we can see his grace at work and catch glimpses of his plan to bring the gospel to every tribe, nation, and tongue.  He gives us reassuring moments that remind us that he is utterly in control and that his plan is GOOD!  In his plan, goodbyes and hellos can both be for his glory and the joy of his people.  Praise be to our God! 

Ryan Eagy
3rd year Seminary Student
Bethlehem College & Seminary 

Our Awasa Team consists of Dr. Jason DeRouchie (Professor at Bethlehem College & Seminary in Minneapolis), Ryan Eagy and Peder Kling (Bethlehem College & Seminary), Dr. Joost Nixon (Pastor of Christ Church in Spokane, Washington and soon-to-be TLI Staff member in Minneapolis), and Steve Krogh (International Trainer with TLI based in West Chicago).


Tomorrow Peder Kling will post.


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Mar  24th,  2016Engaging the Prosperity Gospel

African Smell. It has been seventeen years since I left Africa, and as our plane descended through the cloud cover and into the Addis Ababa airport, my heart was brimming with thankfulness to God for allowing me to return. Perhaps one of the most striking things to welcome me was the African smell. Burning wood. So many use wood to cook over that the aroma hangs in the air—even more than the smell of jet fuel.

African Minds. That was several days ago. We are now safely installed in Awassa, where we have just wrapped up our third day of teaching. The first day was devoted to teaching through the story of the entire Bible. We finished those lessons on Tuesday, and then I had the joy of watching all my students share the story told in the Bible using only twenty-nine simple pictures. This was a powerful way to communicate the story—and out students had gotten it. And now that we finished our first pass through the Bible, the rest of the week we were going to fly lower and slower. Since we do not have the use of white boards or Powerpoint projectors, we string a clothes line across the room, and clip our story icons to the line to illustrate as we teach. We find it is a great way to help students remember.

Our students have inquisitive minds. And today as the instructors gathered over dinner to debrief, it became clear that our students were asking some fairly deep theological questions. Jason DeRouchie and Peder Kling both ably handled questions on God’s foreknowledge, foreordination, and the problem of evil. I fielded questions regarding the place of blessings and curses in the life of a believer. The other instructors dealt with whether Christians can reach a place—this side of glory—where they no longer sin and in what sense could Adam be called the Son of God. So our students are very much engaged, and it is a joy and a delight to see their joy as we tell of the awesome grace, wisdom, and sovereignty of our God. 

African Prayer. Despite a few savvy students, we hear constantly of the need for leadership training. The church in Ethiopia has experienced explosive growth. But the church leaders fear that most Christians here prefer the empty promises of the prosperity gospel to sound, biblical teaching. In a sense, the church is big, but it has a seriously compromised immune system. The body of Christ in Ethiopia is vulnerable to attack.

Please pray for us. We need to teach effectively enough that the lessons are clear enough to be transferred to the next generation. Pray for soft hearts that glory in the greatness of God, and the story of the gospel. And please pray that God will raise up trained leaders to lead his people in Africa. 

Joost Nixon, Pastor of Christ Church in Spokane, Washington 

Our Awasa Team consists of Dr. Jason DeRouchie (Professor at Bethlehem College & Seminary in Minneapolis), Ryan Eagy and Peder Kling (Bethlehem Seminary students), Dr. Joost Nixon (Pastor of Christ Church in Spokane, Washington and soon-to-be TLI Staff member in Minneapolis), and Steve Krogh (International Trainer with TLI based in West Chicago).

Steve Krogh will post tomorrow


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Mar  22nd,  2016Immersed in God's Love for the Nations

The team embarked on day two of teaching Tuesday morning with a refreshing (for some) night of rest. I have learned to cherish the mornings as an early reminder of God's love for the nations. Only in Africa will you open your 3rd story hotel door in the morning and hear African music playing, donkeys pulling carts full of goods and people, and cows roaming free in the middle of the city as the sun rises. These early morning regularities constantly draw my mind to consider God's love for the nations. I am reminded that Christ came to seek and save the lost. He came to set the captives free, and to gather the thousands of nations and cultures (that are different from my own) to his throne. I have never felt more immersed in what I am teaching. When we make our way out of the hotel in the morning to head to our teaching site, seeing this Ethiopian culture in its daily routine makes God's story of his glory among the nations more precious and real within my soul. 
The pastors we are teaching continue to amaze me with their excitement and passion to learn. They are much more receptive and engaged than I had originally imagined. We have had moments of pastors breaking down in tears of amazement at God's patience and kindness, and songs are often sung in response to God's story of redemption. During the breaks, I am constantly being told that God's book is becoming more precious and clear because of the class, and that they feel blessed by God through the teaching. So, these pastors are getting a bigger and clearer vision of God's glory in the face of Christ. I have also heard some say that they hope to bring this whole-Bible story of God's glory back to their home and ministry. It seems that Ethiopians are hungering for a greater understanding and love for God's book. 
The goal for today was to finish any remaining parts of a whole-Bible overview, and then teach the book of Genesis. While I could draw from several key moments of today's teaching, the pastors' responses to the teaching on God's image comes to mind. None of them heard or understood that in bearing God's image, mankind's role in creation was to fill the earth with images of God's glory through bearing children. Nor had they thought about the inherent worth of the human person made in God's image. Talking through this, and the implications therein for the Ethiopian church, was beautiful. One pastor expressed a frustration with the way the church is divided through tribalism, where some tribes regard its inherent worth superior to the others (even in the church!). But the Bible tells us that everyone has fallen short of imaging God's glory as God intended (Rom 3:23)! And only in Jesus - the perfect and true image of God - can the earth be filled with the knowledge and display of God's glory. In many respects, this fundamental principle of Biblical Theology seemed incredibly enlightening to these Ethiopian brothers. I can't wait to see God help them understand more as the week progresses.

Please continue to pray that all the church leaders involved in this week of training will see God's love, grace, and mercy in his marvelous plan, revealed in his word, and culminated in our Lord and savior Jesus Christ! 

Peder Kling

2nd year Seminary Student 
Bethlehem College & Seminary 

Our Awasa Team consists of Dr. Jason DeRouchie (Professor at Bethlehem College & Seminary in Minneapolis), Ryan Eagy and Peder Kling (Bethlehem Seminary students), Dr. Joost Nixon (Pastor of Christ Church in Spokane, Washington and soon-to-be TLI Staff member in Minneapolis), and Steve Krogh (International Trainer with TLI based in West Chicago).

Joost Nixon will post Wednesday.


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