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Trips

Ethiopia (Bishoftu) March 2016

Bishoftu, Ethiopia March 11-20, 2016

We are partnering with a national church denomination to start a training center for pastors in southern Ethiopia. Ethiopia has had Christianity for almost two millennia, possibly since Acts 8 after Philip led the Ethiopian to faith in Christ. Many evangelical pastors in this region have no theological training which has a direct effect upon their church's spiritual maturity. The first training center in Ethiopia was established in the city of Awassa in May 2015 and where we are continuing to send teams. Debre Zeyit (currently known as Bishoftu) is site of a new training center, located about one to one-and-a-half hours drive south of the capital, Addis Ababa. We are expecting 35-40 national pastors who are anxious about being equipped in the Scriptures. Please pray for this pivotal opportunity to strengthen the churches in Ethiopia. Teaching: Attributes of God

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

Mar  23rd,  2016TLI's First Bishoftu Training in Retrospect

My teammates have shared at two-day intervals what God has been doing during this ministry trip. Here is a review of the final two days and the trip home.

On the morning of the last day, Friday, Pastor Tesfaye was no longer with us. He had left before dawn for Addis Ababa airport to welcome the Hawassa team landing that morning. Since we were checking out, our luggage was all packed before breakfast.

 We were to leave the hotel at 8:15; our driver was to be there by 8:00. At about 8:20 we moved all our luggage outside the hotel lobby so we could load it quickly when he arrived. We recognized the van we had ridden in the night before; it was parked in front of our hotel, but no driver was in sight. Terry found an unlocked door, and we were about to begin loading when the driver appeared. He gave no explanation of where he had been.

With luggage soon loaded, we started moving—but the wrong way! Instead of going to the venue, we were headed the opposite direction—toward Addis Ababa! Jeff, who was riding shotgun, got the driver to turn around, but, though Jeff showed him pictures of the church, the driver did not know the way to our venue. I traded seats with Jeff, and guided the driver to the venue. He asked when he should return; we said 2:00 pm. We were quite late for the start of plenary devotions.

Our Ethiopian brothers and sisters dedicated a long time to prayer for us, particularly for Jeff’s family. Then they took time to discuss a problem: Someone(s) had vandalized the fence of the host church’s graveyard. Though they had a hired guard to protect the property, he had apparently slept through the incident. They were uncertain how to respond to this damage. Three or four pastors spoke, and though we have no idea what they said, it was good to see that it was the oldest, wisest pastors speaking in measured, non-inflammatory tones. Soon they all seemed satisfied and we headed to our respective classrooms.

The final lessons were on the Will, the Omnipotence, the Sovereignty, and the Glory of God. How very satisfying it is to contemplate, to worship, to obey and to trust in this God! The time went by all too fast! About mid-morning Pastor Tesfaye appeared in my classroom. He had gotten the Hawassa team situated in their hotel, and had already returned from Addis Ababa to guide us there.

At 12:30 we delayed lunch in order to have a wrap-up and farewell session. Weymann Lee shared encouraging remarks. Then Pastor Tesfaye urged them all to continue the training, returning for the next workshop, May 16~20. We gave out 50 copies of A. W. Pink’s book, The Attributes of God. Then the locals gave, to each team member and to Pastor Tesfaye, two decorative shawls, for ourselves and for our respective wife.

After a quick lunch, many photos and fond farewells, we were on the road toward Addis Ababa. We had a different van, with a different driver. The trip was quick and pleasant on a new toll road, avoiding the snarled traffic that bedeviled our arrival in Bishoftu. We flew past vast, flat wasteland and farmland on the floor of the Rift Valley. Then we saw, startlingly, mile after mile of high-rise apartments, some under construction, some complete. Few, if any, of them seemed inhabited. We hope they had water supply, but doubt that they had sewers. There were no businesses, stores, transportation hubs, or other services that we could see. Upon asking, we were informed that the government plans to move the population of Addis Ababa to this residential zone, and create another zone for business.

When we arrived at the hotel, we met the Hawassa team. We quickly bonded with them, hearing what they had seen in Addis Ababa during the day, and sharing our experiences and life stories over supper.

The next morning Pastor Tesfaye took both teams to change money and do some souvenir shopping. We bought more coffee than anything else, though some bought several soccer jerseys. Back at the hotel we parted ways: Pastor Tesfaye took our brothers on the long drive south to Hawassa. Our team had a leisurely lunch. Then most of our team took in the National Museum. Before supper we debriefed, reflecting on what God had done in us and through us this week. All of us rejoiced, and are willing, even eager, to come back to train in Ethiopia again. At dusk we headed to the airport for our 10:50 pm departure.

We flew north over Egypt, then along the Dalmatian coast. Our flights home, with stops in Dublin, Ireland and Washington D.C., were long! However, there was good service and little turbulence. Some of us were able to sleep well.

We rejoice in the goodness and greatness of our God! We pray for our Ethiopian brothers and sisters, that God will continue His good work in them, as well as in us.

 In His grace,

Gil Zinke

 

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Mar  18th,  2016God is at Work in Ethiopia

God is at work! As we have completed Day 4 of our teaching, God keeps the students active and participating. In the past two days we have covered

-          the Omniscience of God, in which God knows all things,

-          the Truthfulness and Faithfulness of God, in which God is the standard of truth and keeps His promises,

-          the Grace of God, in which God withholds the punishment we deserve,

-          the Mercy of God, in which God blesses us in an overwhelming way in Christ,

-          the Holiness of God, in which God is separate (above) from His creation and all evil,

-          the Righteousness of God, in which God is the standard of what is upright and just,

-          the Wrath of God, in which God displays His intense anger or hatred toward sin,

-          the Jealousy of God, in which God does not allow His glory and honor to be given to anyone or anything else,

-          the Will of God, in which we learned about different aspects of God’s will, but being confident that God can accomplish His will,

-          and some have completed the Omnipotence of God, in which God is powerful enough to do anything consistent with His nature.

We have been showing them how all God’s attributes work together to display His character, most powerfully at the cross.

We have begun building relationships with the students, going to have coffee or tea with them over lunch, getting numerous pictures taken, or just hanging out with them over break to answer questions about the material or America.

We have also done some preaching at their mid-week services. Mircea (Buni) preached during lunchtime on Wednesday and had an enthusiastic response during an altar call. Gil preached Wednesday night at a different church to the leaders, and they requested him to return Thursday night. God is using these opportunities to demonstrate sound exegetic sermons to the church leaders.

Our team has also bonded well, especially considering we had not met in person before March 11 at Dulles Airport. Everyone is focused on the mission of teaching, and everyone is ready to share whatever they have to help the team. The maturity and humility of our team is a good testimony to the body of Christ.

Thursday night we had a wonderful dinner at Assefa Abraham’s home. He has three daughters, ages 12, 8, and 2, and a charming wife. He has been mentored by Pastor Tesfaye, and is currently the President of Berea Bible College. It was a nice and relaxing evening before we get ready for our final day of teaching.

We have two primary prayer requests. First, pray for the health of the team. A few of the members are fighting coughs and colds, and others are just getting run down from the rigorous teaching schedule. Pray that these minor ailments do not turn into anything major, as we want to end well with our teaching. Second, pray that the students take this biblical teaching to heart, applying it to their lives and ministries. They appreciate the training now, but when they return to their churches it could mean changes in how they preach and minister.

Finally, pray for the church in Ethiopia. They have a lot of enthusiasm for God which is reflected in their worship. But their churches encounter the same struggles as churches throughout the world, namely seeking to reflect the image of God through sinful human beings. This is the first class in Bishoftu, and next week is the third class in Awassa, so God can begin a great work here.

 In Christ,

Terry Magee

 

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Mar  15th,  2016Teaching the Attributes of God

On Tuesday we had the opportunity to teach on God’s omnipresence, eternality, independence and immutability. Among studying these great attributes of God the discussion opened up to discuss how to fight pornography, think through if salvation can be lost and if God or we initiate, take the first step in salvation.

It has been encouraging to see the students opening up more as we studied the attributes of God and striving to think through the implications for our lives. Relationships between our team is growing and so is our relationships with students.

Lastly, I have been encouraged how our team comes together every evening to discuss the day and pray together. Praise the Lord for the great privilege we have to fellowship and study with brothers and sisters in the faith here in Ethiopia.

Please pray that the Lord would continue to give us energy, strength, wisdom and clarity in our teaching.

Mircea "Buni" Ionescu


 

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Mar  13th,  2016Vision For Training Leaders

Our team arrived in Ethiopia early Saturday morning and we have had two eventful and informative days. Our conversations and travels have helped to orient us toward the Ethiopian culture and the needs of the evangelical church for theological training.  Much of our time has been spent with Pastor Tesfaye, who is the point of contact in Ethiopia for TLI’s training centers in Awassa and Bishoftu.  Pastor Tesfaye was converted to Christianity from an animistic background when he was a child.  As he grew, he became a pastor and a leader in his church’s denomination.  After receiving some theological training, he felt a call from God to help other pastors receive similar training so they could provide doctrinally sound teaching and vision to their churches.  Many pastors cannot afford this training and the church is growing faster than it can train new leaders.  In addition to this, many parts of the country are experiencing the  growing influence of Islam and an increasing persecution of Christians.  Strong, doctrinally sound, trained pastors and church leaders are needed to help the churches stay focused on their mission to make disciples, build the kingdom, and share the gospel in their communities.  Pastor Tesfaye’s vision is for theological training that is practical and impacts the community in a way that honors Christ.

Sunday afternoon we travelled with Pastor Tesfaye and man named Assafe who has been mentored by him.  Assafe is currently serving as the president of Berea College, a small Bible college in the region of Nararet, about an hour’s drive from Bishoftu.  This college is currently training 12 diploma level students and 12 degree level students who come mostly from Muslim dominated areas of the country.  It was deeply humbling and a  true honor to meet and pray for some of these men who are training to take difficult pastoral roles in churches that face increasing persecution.

Monday morning our team will begin our week of teaching 35 to 50 pastors and church leaders from the areas in and around Bishoftu.  Our team members come from diverse backgrounds, but it has been wonderful to see God bring us together around this mission of teaching about his attributes to our fellow servants of Christ.  Continue to pray for us and the students as we teach this week and seek to serve Christ by serving his Church.

And on a totally unrelated note…just in case you are wondering…Ethiopian cuisine (and coffee) is quite tasty.  I’m already making plans to take my family to an Ethiopian restaurant when I get back home.

-Jeff Parsons

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Mar  10th,  2016Long Journey Ahead

Our team was finally able to meet in person for the first time (here in Washington Dulles International Airpor)t . We met three times over the course of the past few months via video conference call and also corresponded via email to prepare for this trip.

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We are headed to a new TLI training site in Ethiopia, in the city of Bishoftu. The first training site in Ethiopia was in Awassa last May.

 We’re not sure exactly what to expect. We we’re not sure exactly what our teaching venue looks like.  We’re not sure how many pastors and church leaders will be attending (we were told about 50).  We’re not sure if we will have sufficient number of translators or their ability level.  But yet we need to trust the Lord to work things out all the details.  The key to any kind of STM trip is to be flexible.

 We know one thing for sure... we have a 13 hour flight ahead of us. After we arrive in Addis Ababa on Saturday morning, we have about an hour’s drive to Bishoftu. We will have some time to rest, to review and to attend church on Sunday morning and might have the opportunity to preach.  

We look forward to meeting the pastors and church leaders on Monday morning as we begin the week of training!

Because of His Grace,

Weymann (for the Bishoftu Team)

 

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