A joyous Sunday in an Ethiopian church

It’s hard to believe that I am more than halfway through my stay in this amazing city. Today was the joy of preaching a new church in the south area of Addis. They meet in a tent and it is a hopping church!

The church in Ethiopia (non-Orthodox) is not very old because communism left in 1997. In the Assemblies of God, there is a strong Bible college, and there are some strong churches. This church meeting in a tent had nearly 200 people and a great group of children they ministered to as well.

Addis is very much an international city. When I get the chance to post pictures you can observe the amazing differences. There are some incredibly modern areas and they are big areas for internationals. The African Union, the UN, and many other embassies have a strong presence here. It is nothing to sit in a café and hear French, German, Dutch, Italian, and many others I couldn’t easily recognize.

This has been a growing time as I reflect on what is ahead for us as a church, as well. The work we are to do in Minneapolis and elsewhere is a huge call. It is a season of WORK.

We must work while it is day!


Quick thoughts from Ethiopia

I have been teaching for four days and my first week is almost finished. It is an incredible joy, and the time is flying by!

Addis Ababa, the capital, is where the Bible college is located. I couldn’t have picked a more perfect climate. It’s just finishing rainy season, but that means there is rain sometime during the day and the rest of the time it’s sunny and incredibly pleasant.

Ethiopia is on its own clock and calendar. They just had their new year when I arrived and it’s actually 2007 on their calendar. That makes me 7 years younger. I’m good with that.

They also have 13 months on their calendar. 12 months have 30 days. One month has 5 or 6 days. They can advertise they have “13 months of sunshine.”

Their clock time is also different, but thankfully I don’t have to try and adjust to that. Whatever the time REALLY is (say noon), Ethiopians tack on 6 hours (so to them it is 6).

The neighborhoods I observe in this part of the city are completely mixed. There are fabulously gorgeous homes or compounds (and in this part there are a lot of embassies) and right across the “street” are shacks and shanties. I use the term “street” loosely. The main roads are roads, but anything else is a roll of the dice.

The school is a wonderful place. I am teaching 18 students the Gospel of John and they are impressive. They are truly students of the Word of God. It is refreshing. They actually ASK ME to GIVE THEM QUIZZES. (I have to keep pinching myself on that one.)

Overall, the 2 year pursuit of prayer has finally landed me here and every day, at some point, I smile to myself and think, “I AM REALLY IN AFRICA!”

I am praying more about what is next for us as a church. There are ideas forming and I’m so excited for what is ahead in being involved in one country over the next several years.

Over the past two years my thought has been, “I only want to pray God’s prayers.” And this result for this prayer is absolutely wonderful. It keeps me praying!

It is not enough

It is not enough to think that if someone simply has a church they can walk by that they have an “adequate” witness of the gospel.

We to be IN the lives of those who do not yet believe so they have an opportunity to see Jesus in some form of reality. Let us not be lazy and think we’re going to let some TV ministry be an adequate witness of the gospel to someone who never turned on some particular program.

The call of discipleship

I am reading Transforming Discipleship: Making disciples a few at a time by Greg Ogden. We have been developing this thought for training leaders in our church. We want intentional leadership not mass produced in a classroom.

Small groups and one on one develop disciples in a stronger way.

But it is a decision to become a disciple.

“The seeking ones must become the submitted ones. The bold line between ‘Come and see’ and ‘Come and follow’ must be crossed.

I want to submit to the Master Teacher. I must choose to follow. This must be our determination as a church. We need apprentices!

Fulfilling a dream

I am now in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Since I just arrived I have no real thoughts on the city or ministry, except to say when I took off from Minneapolis I was so immensely excited. It was such a fulfillment of prayer. And when I landed in Addis, I was overwhelmed with joy.

It will be an adventure these next two weeks to see what God has for our ministry as a church.

The bonus is staying with a mentor of mine who now directs the school where I am teaching. Already on our first long walk together we’ve talked about ministry, biblical studies, missions, world events… It’s such a joy to be in conversation with someone who has so deeply impacted my life.

It is a day of thankfulness!

Living Dead Brings New Life

24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. (John 12:24-26)

The source of life for others comes in the death of some seed. Something had to die. Pride. Ego. Even a literal life laid down. Something was surrendered. Something was given over. Something died. 

Then… LIFE.

When I will live out the fullness of Rom. 12:1-2 and put my life on the line every day, willing to allow death to my own systems, there is the possibility of multiplication. What am I willing to do? Not for MY life, but for the life of the Kingdom?