When I went to Ethiopia last month, I was asked more than once if I was worried about Ebola. I knew Africa was a huge continent, but when someone described just HOW BIG it is… and it bigger than TEXAS if you can imagine that… I was blown away.
I’ve been home a week and have hit the ground running. It’s left me little time to reflect on the Ethiopia trip, as I had to dive right back into teaching here, getting up to speed on our church property and how the marketing of the property is progressing, etc.
Preparing for Sunday, I’ve slowed down somewhat to look at pictures and think back over the trip. The Lord spoke specific words to me about WHY he led me to Ethiopia and opened up more things in prayer.
The best thing about going to Ethiopia? It was born out of prayer. I was not asking for anything in particular, but out of prayer these past two years, I have asked what God wants for me and the church. Out of that ASKING came the opportunities.
The best thing to come out of this trip is the sense that I only want to pray God’s prayers. I truly want to be captured by his vision! I am driven not by a desire for Ethiopia, but a desire to KNOW HIM… and that has led us to the opportunities that abound in Ethiopia.
12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. (Phil. 3:12)
I don’t want to press on to DO more things. I want to press on to APPREHEND CHRIST!
I am leaving for Ethiopia in a week. A prayer I’ve had for two years is coming to its next step in seven days. It’s only a next step.
The two week trip will be a teaching assignment at Addis Bible College in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. But this is also a prayer trip. Two years ago it was the Spirit stirring me to pray for a nation our church could become involved with over the next 20 years. When I get to Ethiopia, my prayer journey continues because I long to see what is next. Is it Ethiopia? Is it another nation in that region?
All this week the Spirit has been speaking to me about prayer and vision. It is a week where I have repented of small prayers and small dreams.
Two challenges came to my heart out of this week:
1. I am ready. Our church is ready. We are taking a huge leap and the Spirit has brought us to this point. We ARE ready!
2. No more safe prayers. Pray what the Spirit puts on your heart. Pray for healing when the Spirit asks… and pray boldly. Pray for vision. Pray for direction. Pray for intervention. Pray for change. PRAY.
Dick Brodgen in The Live Dead Journal talks about three martyrdoms: red, green, and white.
In the Green Martyrdom the Irish would build communities and invite people in. They would invite people to belong before the invitation to believe. Even though the Green Martyrdom is hard because it is giving up one’s will for another person, what did happen was communities were truly built. Children were being raised safely, education was a priority, and communities were safe.
The White Martyrdom came when Columcille, a disciple of Patrick, saw that Jesus would leave the 99 to save the 1. His call was to northern England. He gave up Ireland for another land, which is the hardest thing for an Irishman to do. It was called the White Martyrdom because they sailed into the white sky of morning, into the unknown, may never return. (Thomas Cahill, How the Irish Saved Civilization.)
The White Martyrdom is taking the gospel to the ends of the earth. It is engaging people we call “unreached.” They are unreached not because they refuse the gospel, but because we as the church have refused to engage them. Someone has to go.
Our church is supporting several missionaries in this last category. They are “sailing off” for areas where the Church has ignored the preaching of the gospel for centuries. There are areas I can’t even mention, and I certainly can’t mention their names here. They are incredible men and women of God who are throwing themselves into the unknown with deep joy. They are sailing off not knowing what lies ahead.
The Live Dead challenge is about praying. It is about searching and asking. What does God really ask of me when it comes to making sure this gospel is preached in all the world?