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Trips

Ethiopia (Bishoftu) Oct 2016

Bishoftu, Ethiopia October 21-30, 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. Curriculum to be taught: Hermeneutics

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

Oct  30th,  2016A Satisfying Sense of Exhaustion

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Okay, I’ll admit it. After five days of teaching, I feel exhausted.

In fact, we’re all exhausted. This is the inevitable sum result of teaching for long hours, interacting with spirited students, and (for me) eating far too much injera bread. Even all the delicious Ethiopian coffee in the world could not keep me up past 9:00pm tonight. But it’s a satisfying sense of exhaustion, and I’m truly grateful for it.

We have much to be grateful about, really. It’s been a privilege to be here, interact with Ethiopian believers, laugh with new friends, and sip coffee several (dozen) times a day. This week has been a great blessing to me, and I trust God will use it to bless his church in Ethiopia in far more ways than can be imagined. I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve with excellent teachers and interact with excellent students, students with the ardent desire to learn something from God in his Word.

This is, after all, why they have come. Alex and I taught a class of eleven Ethiopian believers from different parts of the country and serving the church in a variety of ways. Despite Ethiopia’s current political situation and despite the difficulty of travel, these brothers and sisters considered it worthwhile to travel to Bishoftu so they might acquire the interpretive tools they’ll use to love God more deeply and serve Christ’s church more completely. In the coming years, they’ll return again and again, each time eager to see God’s glory in his word and to make it known throughout all of Ethiopia.

After five days of teaching, I believe they have both the tools and the passion to do just that. For example, today we applied everything we have learned this week by walking through Daniel 7:9-14. Step by step, we interrogated the text, considering the intended meaning of the passage and its relation to the whole Bible, and Christ as its center. I think we all felt the excitement of hearing God speak through his word, and felt encouraged as we saw its significance for our lives. God’s word, we saw today, is exciting precisely because in it God speaks to his people concerning who he is, what he expects of their lives, and how he promises never to leave them. To see all people know and love God’s word is precisely the reason for which organizations like TLI exist, and that’s a vision I can stand by and to which I can give my life.

Please continue to pray for our team and our students as we all travel home to our respective families. Pray for our Ethiopian brothers and sisters as they continue serving Christ amid difficulty and the temptation to preach what congregants want to hear rather than what God has said. Pray that they will apply what they have learned this week to their daily lives and their ministries. Finally, pray that God will be honored in the hearts, minds, and pulpits of each church in Bishoftu and in all of Ethiopia.

Samuel Griffin

 

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Oct  27th,  2016Grace in the Unglamorous Moments

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At noon today I found myself on my hands and knees, in the dirt, in Ethiopia, puking my brains out while a kind Ethiopian man energetically laid hands on me and yell-prayed, "Out sickness! In the name of Jesus Christ, out, out, out!"  

This was the second time in about 90 minutes that I had thrown up like this and it was preceded by an awful trip to the outhouse/squatty-potty behind the church. I am not sure what I ate or drank that got to me, but I was feeling retched. 

As I laid in the grass next to the church after throwing up the first time, I found myself strangely thankful. I stared into the sky watching vultures circle overhead and I just thanked God for the opportunity to be here and to serve these people. The hospitality of the Ethiopians has been off the charts, as has their appreciation for the courses that we are teaching.  

After 20 minutes of just laying in the grass, Pastor Berhanu came by and found me. He helped me up and prayed for me again so I went and sat in the back of the church where Meghan was teaching. After a few minutes the women called me forward with Meghan for a ceremony of appreciation. I did not feel good, but I managed to stand with Meghan as they sang for us, read a portion of Proverbs 31, and presented us with traditional Ethiopian garments of blessing. It was beautiful and they were exuberant in their thankfulness. The thanks they gave us and the praise they gave God seemed all out of proportion to what we had done.

It is amazing to me how encouraged I felt even as I was wracked with food poisoning. I came here to minister to the Ethiopians by teaching them skills for how to properly interpret the Bible, but today I found myself profoundly ministered to through their prayer and encouragement. This morning alone different people helped by running to the store to fetch toilet paper I should have had with me, bringing me water, praying for me, and driving me back to the hotel so I could try to recover. You have not really been prayed for till 37 Ethiopian women do it all at once, or until a man lays hands on you and casts your sickness out while you are actively throwing up. I was deeply encouraged by the power that these believers place on prayer and on God's word. What a privilege and blessing to be ministered to by them.  

And... I have not thrown up since that man cast the sickness out of me. Just sayin'.

Alex Kirk
International Trainer and trip leader

 

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Oct  26th,  2016We Have Chosen Leaders for All the Wrong Reasons

ethiopian_pastors_prayingWhy send teachers like myself all the way to Ethiopia to teach a course like Hermeneutics?  Do the church leaders in Africa really benefit from a course like this in practical ways?  Today in my class, I saw first-hand that, yes, they do.

We were in a section of the curriculum where we were analyzing the relationship between sentences within a paragraph.  We had already discussed how to find key words in a paragraph and how to find the author’s main idea in a paragraph.  The students had watched me show them how to do this and they had practiced doing it themselves with some examples I had provided.

Now we were to move on to the skill of finding and tracing an author’s argument within a passage.  For practice, I chose to give them Mark 10:35-45.  This is the passage where the disciples are arguing over who is the greatest and Jesus teaches them that they are not to style their leadership after the leadership of their culture.  Living under Roman rule, the leadership they had seen was authoritarian.  Jesus changed their model of leadership.  The great leader is the servant leader.

The class worked through the passage in groups and then we discussed what they had observed and learned.  What I emphasized is that just like they were tempted to imitate leadership from their culture, so are we.  But the call of Jesus is to be a servant.  As he came down to serve us, so we should serve one another 

As we were coming to the end, one pastor asked this question:

This is something we have never understood before.  In Ethiopia and in my church, it is not this way.  We have chosen leaders in our church for all the wrong reasons and it has caused many problems. When I go back to my church, now what do I do?  How do I fix what we have done wrong?

At that moment I was reminded, this is why the work of TLI is important.  For the next 10 minutes or so, I was able to offer some counsel to this dear man who was going back to a challenging situation because he now understood the scriptures.

Is this practical work? Is it changing pastors and churches?  Yes it is.  And your prayers and financial support make this happen.

Larry Stromberg
Pastor in Minnesota
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