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Trips

Ethiopia June 2012

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia June 8-23, 2012

Teaching summer classes at the Evangelical Theological College in Addis Ababa. We need teachers for an Old Testament book, New Testament Book, Pauline Epistles, Hermeneutics (How to Study the Bible) and Introduction to Missions. You will also be preaching in local churches

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

Field Notes   Ethiopia June 2012

Jun  25th,  2012Answers to Prayer

By team member: Josh Koehn

On Friday morning, Justin Woyak and I finished teaching a New Testament survey course to 23
students at ETC. In two weeks, we covered ten books: the Gospel of John, 1-3 John, Hebrews,
James, 1-2 Peter, Jude, and Revelation. Needless to say, the pace was quite fast!
Coming into this class, neither Justin or I knew what to expect. This was, for both of us, our first
trip to Africa, our first time teaching cross-culturally, and our first time teaching this material. We
knew that we needed help to succeed! Feeling keenly our dependence on the Lord, we devoted
ourselves to prayer during our preparation and have continued to pray as the course progressed.
Additionally, we enlisted the help of our family and friends, many of whom have been faithful to
cover both our students and us in prayer throughout these past few weeks.

Having now come to the end of our time teaching, we can joyfully say that the Lord has
answered these prayers! Here are just a few of the ways we’ve seen God answer prayers:
-Good health! Our team has remained remarkably healthy throughout our time here, which we
certainly did not take for granted.
-Great group dynamics. Not only was there no conflict in our team, but we were able to help,
encourage, and enjoy one another increasingly as the trip progressed.
Specifically in our class, we saw the following answers to prayer:
-Attentive and engaged students. During our two weeks of teaching, our students took careful
and extensive notes and asked challenging questions which showed a high level of
comprehension.
-After our first class, a student told us “Class today didn’t feel like a lecture. It felt worshipful,
like being in church.” Amen! Our prayer had been that we wouldn’t engage their minds only, but
their hearts as well!
-After the first week of class, one of the students told us that he had used the material Justin had
taught that week in Hebrews while teaching at a conference. It’s exciting to see that what we
taught is immediately being put to use!
-On the final day of class, several of the students shared testimonies of how our class impacted
them. They said that they were encouraged to continue to study the Word with diligence, to
remain faithful in the face of persecution, and to imitate our diligence and passion in studying
and teaching the Word. It was very humbling to know that these students took notice of and were
encouraged by our conduct.

This is just a sample of the Lord’s faithfulness to us these past weeks. Thank you so much for
your prayers on our behalf. Please don’t stop! Continue to pray that:
-The truths these students have learned would bear lasting fruit in both their lives and in the lives
of their families and churches
-That Jason, Justin, and I would have safe travels as we begin our return journey this evening.
“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will
say to the LORD, ‘My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’”
(Psalm 91:1–2)


Trusting in God,
Josh Koehn

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Jun  24th,  2012A Father of the Fatherless

By team member: Emily Weller

Katie and I spent a few hours each day with the children at Hanna's Orphan Home. I've never been to an orphanage before, but Hanna's home is certainly not what I expected. The children are nurtured so well here. Daniel, the orphanage director, knows the children by name, and he shared details about some of the children in a tender, fatherly way. The first week we were there, I met a young teenage girl named Roman. She was quiet and meek, but brave enough to practice her English with me. She had a sweet smile and a beautiful laugh. We talked about school and friends and God and His Word; she loves to read the Bible. As Daniel took us home for the day, I told him how much I enjoyed talking with Roman. I marveled when he told me that Hanna had brought her home from the juvenile detention facility, and I quietly praised God for rescuing Roman and transforming her young heart.

Our hours at the orphan home were good, and they were hard. It's hard to explain how you can feel such heartbreak and hope at the same time. These precious children have been through so much; some have lost both parents to AIDS, and others have been simply abandoned and forgotten. We met a couple of children who were HIV positive. It's not hard to see evidence of the pain in their lives. There is heartbreak.

And yet, God is doing His redemptive work. Many of these children were pulled off of the streets -- some as recently as last week. These children are in a safe environment where they can truly feel loved. They are laughing and playing and hearing about the saving work of Jesus. They are learning about the great love of the Father. There is hope.

This past Thursday, Katie and I were unable to go to Hanna's because one of the children had passed away. We never got the chance to meet 5-year-old Mercy, but we heard stories about her contagious joy and tender little heart. The staff and the children at Hanna's are grieving. Their hearts are broken. But oh, how I pray that they grieve with hope in the One who has defeated death!

During our time with the children at Hanna's, I saw the love of the Father in a new light. He is a "father of the fatherless" (Psalm 68:5). I left with a full heart, knowing that God loves the orphans of this world, and praising Him that though I don't deserve it, I have been adopted into His family through Jesus Christ.

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. 1 John 3:1

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Jun  23rd,  2012It is not by chance that we are here. We are in this class for a reason.

By team members: Lance Kramer & Dan Weller

Walking in to teach a classroom full of pastors and church leaders, many of whom are old enough to be your father, can be intimidating. Doing so as first-time teachers having arrived on a new continent mere hours earlier after traveling for over a day and a half can feel more like impossible. Thankfully, our hearts were steadied by God’s promises that his word won’t return empty and that he will be exalted among the nations. So, running on airplane food and more than a little coffee, we launched into our first class.
 
This first class was a one-week intensive offered to pastors and church leaders in Ethiopia, explaining the Theology of Missions. It was amazing to watch the power of God’s word as we walked through a whole-Bible explanation of missions and saw hearts grasp for the first time the God-centeredness of missions. As John Piper begins his book, Let the Nations Be Glad, “Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not mission, because God is ultimate, not man.” Several leaders in the class were deeply impacted by this truth; one denominational missions leader even commented that he felt compelled to change the curriculum offered in their missions training to reflect a more God-centered approach.
 
Meanwhile, the second class also afforded glimpses into God’s gracious plan for this trip. We were met by a troop of first-year students eagerly awaiting instruction on missions from God’s Word. The course itself should have never happened. We were told a few days after arrival that they normally don’t offer this particular course to first-year students, let alone have a “ferenge” (a foreigner) teach it to them. God was gracious. As the course progressed, we began to see God moving in the hearts and minds of these fellow believers, watching their countenance change in understanding and hearing their sharp intakes of breath, a cultural expression of gaining understanding.
 
One major highlight of the course was our guest speaker, an Ethiopian missionary named Aberra. God’s grace was on display as we heard over and over again of God’s sovereign hand moving in the hearts of Ethiopians to join in the cause of world missions, particularly to the unreached peoples. At one point in Aberra’s presentation of Ethiopian missionaries, we were blown away by God’s faithfulness, as missionary after missionary came from the very school we were teaching at. Our hope and prayer was that the students in this class would likewise be encouraged and challenged to join in the efforts of the Church to preach the gospel and “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19).
 
And so they were. After each lesson, whether on the promise made to Abraham to bless “all the families of the earth” through him (Gen 12:3) or Jesus’ promise that those who are faithful to follow him will endure persecution (Matthew 10), God slowly transformed the hearts of these students. Towards the end of the course, we were amazed as one student challenged his fellow classmates to think and pray deeply about what God might be doing by having them in this course. “It is not chance that we are here. We are in this class for a reason. I would challenge you to pray about whether or not God is calling you to be a missionary. I believe he is calling me.”
 
The final day of class brought even more amazement at what God had done as we listened to the students’ final presentations. These instructors’ hearts swelled with praise to God as we heard grace pour fourth from the lips of our now beloved students. Many gave countless thanks for having received this course and the biblical content that it offered. Many of the students had already been sharing with their families and churches what God had been teaching them. In fact, a number of students had already been working with their pastors to use the content of this class to teach their fellow brothers and sisters. The impact that God has already made through this course will continue to spread throughout Ethiopia, as one student pointed out, like a stone sends ripples throughout a pond.
 
To be a part of these students’ very first class was an adventure and a privilege. God alone knows what he has in store for these students, and we will continue to pray that through them, he will continue to win worshippers from the peoples in Ethiopia, the surrounding countries, and “to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

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Jun  22nd,  2012My solace and motivation came through a reminder of what God had done

by: Ross Bebee

Tuesday night I went to bed wondering if my time here would be truly helpful for the students and church leaders. I doubted my material, teaching sequence, and ability to communicate in this culture. I was discouraged. My solace and motivation came through a reminder of what God had done 12 years ago here, even through my inadequacy. Sammy was a teenager then, rebelling against his mother and her faith in Christ. I was here with Young Life, helping launch the ministry in Ethiopia. We met and quickly became friends. The story is long and many others were used in loving and discipling Sammy in Christ, but what life change and encouragement!

Today, Sammy helps pastor Great Hope Church in the neighborhood where I met him, Korah - one of the poorest areas of Addis. They have a feeding program for children as well as a house for elders in the community and work projects for women to be employed, breaking out of prostitution and helping them to provide for their family. "Project 61" also sponsors over 200 kids from the neighborhood to attend a boarding school about 200 km away where they are well fed, educated and taught about Jesus. The entire ministry is a beacon of light and hope in an often hopeless place. In some way, God used me to help it happen. I fell asleep knowing He still uses "jars of clay", "not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God" (2 Cor 3:5).

With each day of teaching here the students warmed to my ideas and walls came down. How fun to hear them say, "We have never heard how Trinity is our model for church and small groups!" They are eager and teachable. Only God knows how these seeds will grow and what the impact will be. But what a privilege to serve and be used. Thank you so much for your partnership. Hopefully, I'll return again (before 12 years) and be able reconnect with these brothers and sisters too.

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Jun  19th,  2012First Corinthians and the Ethiopian (and German) Believers in a Hostile Society

by team member: Benjamin Marx

 Teaching the Scriptures is always a challenging and most of the time enriching experience. Teaching 1 Corinthians is no exemption. But teaching in a cross-cultural setting (especially where neither the teacher nor the students speak English as their first language!) is the most challenging part of my experience.

 However the students at Evangelical Theological College (ETC) are so gentle and understanding that this experience is such a blessing to me that I can hardly express it in intelligible words.

 We do have really insightful class sessions and in my mind we all are benefitting a lot from one another. Yesterday, for example, I was teaching on 1 Cor 8 and the students told me about the struggles they are facing in their respective cultures (we need to keep in mind that there are over 70 tribes/cultures/languages in Ethiopia). Some of them struggle with buying meat from a Muslim meat market; others are unsure whether to participate in Ethiopian Orthodox procession where (according to a class-member) angels and Mary are sacrificed to. Through those insights 1 Cor 8 really takes on form and reality.

 What I have experienced in this class is that there is a tremendous hunger and thirst for God’s word and how it applies to us today. One of the main things I keep stressing in class that we need to read Scripture in context. We cannot just take a verse or a passage and apply to it a meaning which is contrary to the original setting. Therefore we spent a lot of time to see and understand what the apostle to the Gentiles was saying back then in order to comprehend how it applies to us today. Further, we need not only to pay attention to the context of Scripture, but we need to pay even more attention to our context in which our Gospel-shaped, Christo-morphic lives are lived.

 In the breaks (officially 15 minutes…) and after class a couple of students show an immense interest to go even deeper into the material and how it shapes our theology and hence behavior. I am thoroughly convinced that what we belief will ultimately shape and form our behavior and that for this reason we need a good foundation and be grounded in Scripture via a Gospel-shaped, Christo-centric, and Christo-morphic hermeneutic.

 God has been teaching me humility and more cultural sensitivity in the last couple of days. More and more I see the need of a hermeneutic and live shaped by the Gospel and Christ. It is hard to believe that in four days this experience will come to an end. My hope and prayer is that the students and I will be more and more shaped into the image of God’s Son and that we will be able to communicate the message of “Jesus Christ as Lord” more effectively and in a more culturally relevant manner. Will you join me in that prayer?

 

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