The TLI team on this trip consisted of Bob Klint, Pastor Steve Larson and I (Gil Zinke,
team leader). God was very good to us throughout the trip: He gave us many
encouragements as He allowed us to accomplish our purpose of training pastors and
evangelists in Biblical Theology—the big picture of the Bible, the story of salvation
history. He also allowed us to do some preaching in non-class hours.
When we landed Saturday morning at Addis Ababa’s Bole International Airport,
Pastor Tesfaye, TLI’s in-country coordinator, met us promptly. Though we had
already eaten breakfast on the plane, being a gracious host, he insisted on taking us
to a hotel for another breakfast. Over breakfast he shared this testimony:
“At the end of the March training in Bishoftu [on Attributes of God], some
of the leaders were weeping. Those who had been to Bible schools of their
denomination had been taught a few attributes of God—ones that their
denomination emphasizes. In the TLI training they were taken deep into
many attributes of God, from Genesis to Revelation. They were ashamed
that they had not gone to such depth in the past. Their new knowledge of
God was immediately applicable to their ministry, so they were grateful,
and eager to learn more.”
The second TLI training, Biblical Theology, began on Monday, the 16th. The trainees,
most of whom had been here in March, welcomed us warmly. We had four new
trainees and two new interpreters. I shared with the plenary group a greeting from
Jeff Parsons. They had prayed for his son’s health in March, and his son has seen
considerable improvement since then.
The classrooms were not ready for us, but they were soon swept, and we moved
furniture to make things workable. In contrast to March, I had a more spacious room
with a large blackboard on the wall.
All five days were a delight. The trainees were right with us, and the Holy Spirit gave
them many “Aha!” moments. It was great to watch “the lights go on” in their eyes.
Many said that they had never been shown the whole sweep of salvation history
before, or grasped how the Bible is telling One Big Story that highlights the glory of
Pastor Tesfaye gave us the following feedback on May 19th:
“All with whom I have talked have been pleased with the teaching they
are getting from all three of you. They like your way of presenting, and
the way you elicit interaction. Those who have been to Bible Schools say
that they have not gotten such teaching at schools they have attended.
Already they are saying that they will feel a loss if this training ends in
just three years; they want it to continue beyond 2018 in some form,
whether formal or non-formal, so they can continue learning truth and
applying it to their lives.”
I mentioned preaching. The host church had me preach to their staff on Wednesday.
A power outage prevented me from printing out a sermon, so I preached off my
computer. The power outage was still continuing as I preached, so the computer
screen lit up my face. A few of the congregants had their faces lit by candles; the rest
sat in the dark. They responded well to the message of Psalm 95.
Steve preached to a smaller group the following night in a classroom. His good
sermon was from Roman 5:1-11. Steve preached again to a larger crowd on Friday
night—a joint service between the host church and a daughter church in the valley.
Early Saturday morning Pastor Tesfaye took us to Addis Ababa. We had breakfast in
our hotel there while he met the Hawassa team (Josh, Scott H., Scott L., Ross, Jesse and
Frank) at the airport. Pastor Tesfaye brought them to our hotel, so we briefly got
acquainted with that team before they headed out to shop and travel to Hawassa.
Pastor Tesfaye also introduced Pastor Gezahegn, the man whom God had used to
revive his flickering faith and disciple him. Pastor Gezahegn spent three hours with
Bob and me, telling us his testimony and taking us to a museum. When he left, Steve
joined us to wander around the neighborhood and eat some fresh beef.
On Sunday, May 22nd, I preached from Mark 3 at a young church planted by Pastor
Bitew, a friend of Pastor Tesfaye. Pastor Bitew took us to a restaurant owned by a
Christian proprietor. We spent two more hours talking to and praying for Pastor
Bitew and another dear brother. Then we spent an hour at “Holy Internet Café,”
returned to the hotel for supper, and went to the airport. Our flights home were
None of us on the team got sick or injured. We were of good cheer and humor the
whole time. Our hosts took very good care of us. Internet access was limited. The
meals were good. We saw beautiful birds, and herds of camels and donkeys as well
as flocks of goats. Bob described the beauty around us as reminiscent of Eden. We
definitely recommend this site to any qualified teachers. TLI trainings in Bishoftu
are scheduled for October 2016 and March, May and Fall of 2017.
TLI International Trainer