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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.

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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Mar  21st,  2017A Sound of Heaven

Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” (Revelation 5:9–10) 

I recently heard a pastor (Tony Merida) say that what makes a good preacher is not his technique or form; it’s his convictions. If the word of God is indeed God’s word (2Timothy 3:16–17), then as ministers of the gospel it only makes sense that we “preach the word” (2Timothy 4:1–2). We have no other word to offer. Only the gospel of Jesus Christ brings salvation (1Thessalonians 5:9) to sinners.

A few days ago myself and ten others boarded a plane to Ethiopia. Why? Because we all share the conviction that God’s word — and the gospel of Jesus it contains — is worth it. Indeed, “the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). This is a message for the whole world. As a team we get to proclaim this very gospel of our Lord Jesus in two ways: word and service (1 Peter 4:11). The “word” team teaches through the gospel of Mark; the “service” team demonstrates the love of Christ and pure religion at a nearby orphanage (James 1:27). We board planes, become foreigners, embrace discomfort, and leave our families because the gospel of Jesus is worth it. And it is our joy to do so (2 Corinthians 1:24)!

One of the joys here (and there are many!) is the people. For myself as well as others, the highlight of the trip is getting to know and love other brothers and sisters in Christ here in Ethiopia. Though we may not have many cultural commonalities, we do have one thing (the most important thing) in common: through the gospel Jesus created “in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace” (Ephesians 2:15b). We are one in Christ Jesus. What a beautiful reality.

I was able to experience this “oneness” the other day in my teaching group — a moment I doubt I will ever forget. As we finished a long day of teaching through the gospel of Mark to other Christian pastors in Ethiopia, my teaching group naturally ended in prayer. As the prayers were finishing, one of the women in my group spontaneously started to sing a song in Amharic (if I remember correctly, a song entitled “Jesus, My Friend”). She started to sing and other Ethiopian brothers and sisters followed. Soon our entire Ethiopian group had raised their voices and were singing to Jesus. I had no idea what they were saying; but I do know that I heard some of the most beautiful worship that afternoon I can remember. I didn’t have to know what they were saying. I just closed my eyes and (tearfully) thanked the Lord Jesus that his gospel brought me to these other Christian men and woman in Ethiopia. Our unity in the Spirit beckoned me to worship the same Jesus, the Jesus who heals sinners (Mark 2:17).

Hearing western hymns is one thing; hearing Ethiopian worship is quite another. One is not “better” than the other. But I praise God because what I heard that afternoon was a sound of heaven. As king of the nations (Psalm 2:7–9) Jesus is worthy of our worship. Heaven will be filled with Christians from “every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9). My heart rejoices that, through these brothers and sisters, I now have a little bigger view of God and his global mission. God's kingdom will not fail (Mark 4:26–32).

God is at work here in Ethiopia, and we’re glad to be part of it. Through these brothers and sisters I’ve seen theology lead to (Ethiopian) doxology - truly a sound of heaven that contributes to the concert of God’s praise. May God give our team grace to humbly minister to and learn from these beloved Ethiopian brothers and sisters as we finish the week. And may the gospel of Jesus continue to bear fruit in "good soil" long after we leave (Mark 4:9, 20).

 

Matt Strom
Bethlehem Seminary Student (4th Year) 


 

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