I just finished an outstanding lunch at the missionary guesthouse—mashed potatoes, cooked carrots, dressing, chicken, and a unique salad that included bananas. It was like Thanksgiving in Ethiopia! Not surprisingly, the attendance at this lunch was higher than most days.
We hope the people we served in Hosanna this past weekend enjoyed the food for the soul that we gave them. Our plan is so simple: teach the Bible. What else do they ultimately need? And what else has God promised to accompany by His Spirit than the word He has given us?
Our ministry in Hosanna was with a single church. We were so pleased with the meetings, especially since all of the elders attended every meeting (not always the case in the past). Selamab taught through Mark 8-10. The main teaching pastor was so thankful for his message on Mark 8 that he seriously contemplated having Selamab teach it again on Sunday to the entire church (not everyone in the church attended Friday or Saturday). On Sunday, Selamab was privileged to preach to a church with over 2,000 people in attendance! He admitted it was a bit frightening at first, but He believes the Lord was with Him and the people were affected.
I’m so grateful for Selamab’s ministry here. I would love to see him come over here 3 or 4 times a year. His Bible teaching is top-notch, but his loving spirit and readiness to do good is delightful. For example, yesterday driving back from Hosanna, our Jeep broke down three times. The first time the Jeep broke down, our driver and Selamab very quickly jumped out of the Jeep and started investigating under the hood. Then they were fixing things. I said to Selamab, “I didn’t know you knew how to work on cars.” His response? “I don’t, but I just figure I can turn a screw if he needs me to.”
On Saturday I took two sessions and emphasized the importance of Bible reading and ways to increase the intake of Scripture and meditation. Perhaps these strategies will be of interest to you:
1. Repetitively reading larger sections of Scripture.
2. Repetitively listening to books of the Bible. (This is possible for some in Ethiopia, and increasingly so each year.)
3. Reading more in the public meetings of the church. (This was addressed to the elders.)
4. Group reading outside of the regular church meetings. (This is really important–not only for readers, but for those who can’t read.)
5. Evangelistic Bible reading.
6. Family Bible reading.
I was so thankful after teaching because a couple of older men in the church stood and told the group they were renewing their commitment to the intake of the Scriptures. I sensed that their sincere testimonies could have a significant influence on all of the others in attendance.
Here’s another unique occurrence that happened while I was teaching about Bible reading. First, let me back up. Our driver for both weekends of ministry, Shawn, is not a believer—yet. On the way to our first place of (Goha Tsion), Selamab enjoyed conversing with him about all kinds of different subjects. Eventually, the discussion turned to the Bible and ended with Selamab encouraging Shawn to read his Bible and sharing a strategy with him.
So now fast-forward to my first session on Saturday. From a section of Psalm 119, I was making several statements about God’s word (such as, “God’s word is full of wonderful things to see,” and “There are great benefits to meditating on God’s word.”). Well, about half-way through the session, Shawn walked in and sat down! This surprised us because he hadn’t attended any of the previous meetings. However, he had been outside of the church building and was listening, and he became very interested (surely because of his previous discussion with Selamab), so he came in to hear the rest of the teaching.
It gets even better. One of the elders—a big, burly, soft-hearted man—engaged Shawn in a discussion later on in the day. As it turns out, this elder used to be a truck-driver, so they had “war stories” to share. While talking, this elder told Shawn all about his past life in drugs and sin, and that the Lord Jesus had saved him from all of that. Selamab and I were very excited to see this and would love for you to keep praying for Shawn—that He will recognize the hand of God in all of this and come to Christ.
On our way back from Hosanna, Selamab and I counted 20 teaching sessions that we were able to have during this trip to Ethiopia, plus at least 5 extended times of questions and answers and numerous other conversations while eating meals or drinking coffee with leaders. Thank you for praying. As a missionary once said, without your prayers we would feel like boats grounded in shallow water, not making any progress. It’s no wonder that Paul said to the Thessalonians, “Pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored” (2 Thessalonians 3:1). We really believe that this happened over the past two weeks. We thank God for your love and partnership with us.
With Love and Joy in Christ,