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Trips

Ethiopia (Hawassa) March 2017

Hawassa, Ethiopia March 17-26, 2017

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. Curriculum to be taught: Gospel of Mark

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

May  15th,  2017Reflections on the TLI Training in Ethiopia Hawassa in March 2017

Thank you so much for praying for our ministry trip to Hawassa, Ethiopia in March!  Here is a hindsight report on what God did through us. 

 We trained four separate classes. Mine is pictured here. Hawassa_March_2017

On the final day of class, March 24th, the class of nine was invited to respond to any or all of these five questions:

1) What has God said to your heart this week through the Gospel of Mark?  How is it transforming you?

2) What new tools, skills or insights will you take home for your ministry?

3) What did the TLI team do well that you would like to imitate? (We don’t care to be praised, but want you to clarify in your own mind what you’d like to emulate.)

4) What could we do better? (Help us improve!) 

5) In what ways have we offended you? Let us know how we can apologize, or repair damage. 

 

Here’s what they said:

Pastor W:

"In the last half of Mark, Jesus was trying to teach the disciples to see (and embrace) His suffering, but they did not. Where am I in this direction? I was humbled to see myself."

 

Mr. H:

 Thank you for this training event. 

Q1: I clearly saw who Jesus is in the Gospel of Mark. In Mark 10:45 Jesus is the Servant; I saw that clearly. That is what I gained from Jesus’ teaching.

Q3: I am amazed at the way you held yourself back from going beyond the Bible. You clearly distinguished your opinion from what the Bible teaches. You don’t rush to give the answer. You respect the word of God. We stood to read the text each time. That is a wonderful thing!

Regarding TLI training:  TLI groups are on time. They value time.  You cooperated with each other, especially when Jason was preaching. (His students set up a clothesline with teaching symbols on it).

Q4: Come not just for a week; to be with us longer!

 

Mr. T:

In addition to those suggestions, like Pastor W, I clearly saw myself. I must show Christ clearly to others. Mark 10:13 helped me to see myself. I agree also with Mr. H—you limited yourself to only the message of Mark—no chaff, just the point.  I also agree that the TLI team is a very special group, cooperating with us.

 

Mr. A:

I just want to see my calling—called to serve. I have been called for a purpose. 

I learned a lot about how to serve in relation to other ministers. Gil and Jared disagreed, but they still honored each other. Matt quoted Jason. This helps me to see how to respect others and work together.

Today’s contrast—of the paths of honor and suffering—helped me to know my direction and my path.

 

Pastor W:

The disciples, even after being with Jesus for three years, could not see clearly what He was trying to teach them. I see similar blind spots in my own life.  I am warned not be like them in their blindness. I agree with what Mr. H said regarding standing to read the word. It shows respect for the text and is a good custom that we don’t have. It is Biblical, especially in the OT. Thank you for reminding me of this. 

You ate our food. This is not your culture and diet. Yet you enjoyed it with us.

 

Mrs. E:

I learned that though Jesus taught the disciples [about his upcoming passion], they became increasingly blinded [by pride and ambition]. I have learned that to serve Jesus I must deny self. This is very important.

It helped me much to see the two questions:  “Who is Jesus?” and “What did He come to do?” I understand what I am called to. 

I have also learned a lot about preaching. Expository preaching is against allegorical preaching. I want to commit myself— before you and God—to be an expository preacher. 

Pastor Gil is like a father—sharp and on time. We are the fruit.

 

Mr. Ab:

Two points:

To gain honor, I must serve.

Giving is more blessed than having more.

 

Mr. M:

I have learned the power of the word of God in its context.

 

Miss T:

I learned that I must study my Bible a lot!  I am not called to just live for Christ, but to die for Him.

 

    It was a privilege to teach this group! Then again, I feel that way after most of my trainings. The way I often get to see the Spirit of God bringing about transformation by His word in the lives of those who will influence others, makes me often reflect that I have the best job in the world! It is worth the hardships!

Rejoicing in the grace of Christ,

Gil  

 

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Mar  27th,  2017Hope For Binyam

The short drive from the teaching compound to the orphanage, passing blue, three-wheeled Bajaj taxi’s, ended with our arrival at a very normal metal gate attached to a very normal high wall. The usual African buzzard wheeled overhead.

I have become very comfortable introducing myself as Binyam, which is the Amharic way of pronouncing my name. It also happens to illicit the widening of the beautiful African grin to oceanic proportions. The staff at the orphanage received us in the usual “outdoing us in honor” way.  My teammates, all ladies on this outing, seemed to pull babies out of thin air. Before long we were holding, hugging, and singing to many different children, their dark eyes wide and their chubby fingers grasping. The average age is perhaps 2 or 3 years old. I overheard that one young man in another room cried for long periods of time without explanation.

I gently laid down my sweet baby and made my way to a room where the children were toddling around, originally afraid of us, but now brave enough to take treats from our hands. In the corner was a crib. The child inside was curled, deformed and not moving. They assume that he is 4. He could be 7 since he began losing teeth recently. They don’t know. He has been there for 2 years and they don’t know how long he will live.

As I came closer to touch his head and sing to him I looked up at his information page taped to the wall above his crib. His name; Binyam. The nurse allowed me to pick him up. I held him in my lap, his head against my chest. They explained that he could not see. His left hip was broken and unmendable. His limbs only held sinews and bones, and his arms and legs ended in curled and useless extremities. Sudden movements produced seizures. Saliva caught in his throat and forced him to cough violently. 

My tears flowed freely as I held him and thought of my own sons. This boy and many like him have no loving mother to comfort them. They have no family to belong to. They are left in fields, or, mercifully perhaps, left in a box near an orphanage, or maybe found in a latrine.

I gently carried Binyam outside and we found a mat to sit on and a wall to lean against. A caretaker brought a special chair for him. Then he began his most heart-wrenching habit. They don’t know why but Binyam will open his mouth wide and cry, softly, pitifully, as if he knows what he has missed in life. His big, sad, blind eyes seem to catch all of the heartaches of the fall and give them voice. And I worshiped my savior in tears.

I worshiped because Binyam, in all of his brokenness and deformity was still an image bearer of the universe maker. His wrecked body bore witness to Adam’s so-called free choice and our consequent misery. I worshiped because the hope for Binyam is not distant or faint, but near and blazing like the Son. The Universe Maker sent a substitute named “the Slain Lamb” to return Adam’s kin into blissfull slavery and answer Biyam’s mournful cry with everlasting comfort.

O Jesus, please do it. Rescue Binyam.

Benjamin Katterson

4th year Seminary Student, Bethlehem College & Seminary

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Mar  25th,  2017Meeting My Brother

Yesterday was one of the sweetest days in my life. I got to see, hug, and play with a little boy that I have loved like my brother and prayed for for so long.

Seven years ago, my family sought to adopt this little boy from Ethiopia, which ended up not working out and resulted in him having to stay in the orphanage for a little while longer and then eventually resulted in him being returned to his birth mother. The pain of losing him was very deep, and yet God was faithful to help us trust him through it. For the next seven years, God constantly brought this boy and his mom into our minds, and we prayed for them very often. Today my sister and I got to see our little brother and his mother for the first time.

Our time together was so sweet. We chatted (through a translator), played soccer, and then took them both to the dentist. I couldn’t believe that I was actually hugging and looking into the eyes of the boy that I had dared to dream of seeing for so long.  As I write this blog post, I am amazed at the Lord’s faithfulness. God’s faithfulness is written all over this story. God was faithful to make us love Chernet to a very deep level, and he was faithful to preserve his life and to let us see him.

Leading up to the visit, I was worried about not being able to contain all my emotions that I had carried for so long, and that I would just burst out crying in front of them. However, God just filled me with joy. Yesterday I felt as if a weight I had been carrying for seven years was finally lifted.

Thank you for praying for our team. God is faithful.

Ruthie DeRouchie

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Mar  24th,  2017Returning Home with a Clearer Vision

For me, coming to my own home as a short term missionary has been my best trip home. This is my sixth time back home after I first moved to the United States from Ethiopia in 1995. 

Returning this time, I wanted to help children and elders who need hope.

This time, I came with very matured missionaries who understand the situation of the poverty in Ethiopia. Talking with each other after everyday gives me a deeper knowledge of God. That helps me to understand my path for my future. I hope to move back to Ethiopia and help the needy ones.  

I am learning that the two ways I can help best are by helping with my own hands and by helping missionaries.

 

- Alemnesh Heyi 
Member, Bethlehem Baptist Church 

 

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Mar  21st,  2017His Presence Is Real

Ethiopia-- miles and miles from home. We landed early Saturday morning with a glorious sunrise. Still a bit tired and worn from the trip, we needed to stay up for the entire day. Driving around the city of Addis Ababa, we see a very different world. Yet on Sunday morning in Hawassa, we see people walking to church with their bibles in hand. We attended a service with God at the center. Above the sanctuary, it is written, God is Great! The worship was Holy Spirit-filled. Many hands in the air with eyes closed. 

The tendency of coming to a foreign land is to be afraid because of the unknown (especially if you get sick or are run over by a bicyclist). But there is comfort here in Ethiopia because our God is here. We see Him in the Ethiopian people. They are gracious, loving and humble--eager to learn more. But they have a long history of dealing with the spiritual world-- animism and worshiping demons. This can be frightening. But as faithful as our God is, the next chapter in my bible reading was Joshua 1. He gave me Joshua 1:9. "Have I not commanded you? (Don't miss this--He COMMANDED.) Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." And our faithful God is! This verse has strengthened me time and time again. 

Today we visited an adoption agency in Hawassa. This was definitely a highlight! There were about 20 children from ages 3 months up. The babies we held were found in the bush, left at church, or on the street. They were so precious, looked healthy and happy. Afterwards, the agency's leadership wanted to sing with us before we left. What a treat! They sang for Christ with all their hearts. God was present. Hallelujah! 

The day ended with a great game of soccer with another group of orphans, ages 4 to 8. These kids could play! Competitive yet gracious. I asked one of the house mothers how did these children learn such obedience? She replied, "they know Jesus." They have bible study on Fridays and attend Sunday school. Yes, once again, the Lord was present. 

For this trip, we were assigned to read the book, When Helping Hurts. It is predicted that Africa will become the center of Christianity by the year 2035. What a sincere privilege and honor to be here and witness the growth in this country. 

I am looking forward to the rest of the week and seeing the reality of His presence in the people of Ethiopia! Hallelujah! 

Darcy Enthoven
Associate Director of Admissions, Bethlehem College & Seminary 

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