It is among one of the many joys of my life to be privileged to serve pastors and church leaders in countries like Ethiopia. The pleasure I receive from their engagement with the text of Scripture and their amazement when they behold new things for the first time is truly intoxicating. We get to assist in the training of the next generation of church leaders who, we pray, will take what they have learned and reproduce it for the health and strength of the church in the years to come. What a high and honorable responsibility! And yet, while this work is truly rewarding in many ways, it does at the same time present us with real life situations and circumstances that are often hard to process.
Take for example the story of a little girl I met on the way back to our hotel from one of our days of training. This two year old little girl is the daughter of a once prostitute who used to solicit her services within the vicinity of the church compound where we are holding our TLI training sessions. Over the years one of the pastor’s wives built a relationship with Tanya and eventually built her trust to share with her the gospel. She responded and soon after gave up her prostitution in order to obey Christ. But with obedience often comes sacrifice. With no way to make a living any longer, Tanya was left to begin selling every thing she ever owned in order to feed herself and her little girl. With no way to pay for daycare services in order to work and support her little girl, she quickly came to the place of desperation. Feeling as though she and her daughter would starve to death without help she came to the woman who had lead her to the Lord and in exasperation said, “You're my spiritual mother in the faith, I have no one else to turn to. Take my daughter for I cannot support her my myself. Please this is too hard for me.” Well after much prayer, the pastor along with his wife invited the both of them to come and live in their house, an already crowded house filled with a family of their own. Tanya still has no permanent occupation, as jobs, like in many under-developed countries, are hard to come by. But she does have home, even if it is not her own, and she is learning to cook and clean and do the basic essentials that she never took the time to learn before.
But the hardest thing to process is not necessarily this story, since a soul has been saved and a family has been rescued. The hardest is to see a small slice of the thousands of women who are prostituting themselves on the streets of Ethiopia on our drive back from the training site to the hotel every evening. Thousands of lives that are desperately lost in an industry of death, and hundreds of thousands more caught in cycles of sin and despair and extreme poverty that boggle the mind.
But in just a few days I will get back on a plane and go home to one of the safest and richest countries in the world. Back to cleanliness and clean air. Back to a more than comfortable house. And back to a country with more than enough resources for the under-privileged. You see, I’ve been doing this in different ways now for about 6 years, it never gets easier. And for the sake of my continued passion for nations, I hope it never does.
The need is great, the harvest is wide. And we have been given much.
For the team at Bishoftu, Ethiopia...