Dear Friends and Family,
We are in the midst of our 2nd week here in Addis Ababa, and there is so much to share about what is going that these updates do not dojustice to all that we have been experiencing. We are looking forward to sharing more of these stories with you when we return and to sharethe amazing work that God is doing here in Ethiopia.
Overall our team is doing well both physically and spiritually. God has been gracious in that we’re getting restful sleep, plenty of good food to eat, and spiritual encouragement everyday. Our times here are filled with meeting patients (for Christine), visiting beneficiaries in their homes (all 3 of us), leading youth programs (Joanna and Tim), leading Bible studies (Tim).
I’ll share a quick story as I need to get going to our next activity. Yesterday, I had the privilege of meeting one of the project’s beneficiaries and he probably had the deepest understanding of the gospel of all the people whom I’ve met so far. Most folks have been heavily influenced by the teaching from the Orthodox church here, which preaches a message of works righteousness, i.e. as long as I do good thing in life, then I will be going to heaven and find favor with God while I live on earth now.
This man, however, knew the depth of his sin and the consequences of it, but clinging onto the hope that comes from the gospel and that issomething that he and his family clings to each day. His family faces much pressure from the community since being HIV+ is a social stigmain Ethiopia. If the people in his community find out that he and his family members are HIV+, they will immediately kick them out as they are renting their property. I was able to encourage him, by reminding him of how if we truly are in Christ, then we are a new creation and that when God looks at us, he does not see our deficiencies or our HIV status, or anything else, but he sees Jesus in our place. You could tell that his heart was being moved as he was reminded of this gospel truth.
We usually ask people at the end of our visits with them if they have any specific prayer requests, and this man did not mention the typicalrequests that people make (e.g. health, family, living situation, etc), although all of those matters are important and should not be dismissed. Rather, this man requested that we pray for the members of his neighborhood that they might know Jesus Christ. That was his only prayer request and he was completely genuine with that request. I was floored when he said that. This is a man facing daily pressure from his community, health issues, having to provide for his children and family, and the one thing that he requests prayer for is the salvation of those who do not know Christ. Friends, God is doing something significant here in Ethiopia and this man gave me a picture that there is hope and that the gospel is indeed true and real.
Thank you for your prayers! We’re hoping to send at least one more update prior to us leaving here Friday night. Thank you for your patience in hearing from us. Our days are quite full and it is difficult to get on a computer depending where we are stationed for a particular day. We appreciate your understanding.
Ethiopia Team 2010