The lesson of suffering

When I was in Ethiopia teaching Wisdom Literature, we spent a lot of time in Job.

I asked the class one day, “What have you learned from Job, or learned from suffering?”

One student answered: “Suffering is an opportunity to upgrade my faith.”

I learn far more teaching in Ethiopia than I can give out.

 

Apprehended by Christ

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!

Being prayed over by the Gospel of John class I was privileged to teach at Addis Bible College.
Being prayed over by the Gospel of John class I was privileged to teach at Addis Bible College.

Quick Pictures from Ethiopia

Since I’m having some jet lag, it’s a great time to organize a few pictures!

Gospel of John class at Addis Bible College.
Gospel of John class at Addis Bible College.
Teaching the Gospel of John at ABC.
Teaching the Gospel of John at ABC.
My mentor and friend, Doug Lowenberg.
My mentor and friend, Doug Lowenberg.
Preaching in local Ethiopian church. Pastor Waiyassa translated. He is a great man of God!
Preaching in local Ethiopian church. Pastor Waiyassa translated. He is a great man of God!
Preaching in ABC Chapel.
Preaching in ABC Chapel.

The opportunities we have as we pray

It was a little over two years ago the Lord challenged me with “owning” a country. He called on me to have our church really get involved in one nation. A year ago that narrowed to Africa. Over the past few months Ethiopia became the opportunity. As I’ve been here two weeks the Spirit is showing me the amazing opportunity in this nation. It is such a key part of what is possible in Africa, especially the horn of Africa, and then possibly into the Middle East. It is simply astonishing.

The church here is strong. It’s gone through a lot of struggle, but their leadership is emerging.

The missionary family here is amazing, and there is a growing group desiring to reach the hardest areas. They are so bold!

These are opportunities that have arisen out of prayer. I am so thankful for the challenge the Lord gives me in prayer. After these two weeks, I simply do not want to hold back in prayer. We have amazing opportunities regardless the size of our church.

May we walk with a new boldness in the Spirit as we move forward!

Random thoughts from Ethiopia, Part 2

One of the regular things that happen in Ethiopia is the power goes out. While I’ve been here it’s not been for any real length of time, thankfully. But tonight the power went out during dinner. I’m thankful for “roughing it” with long time missionaries who keep their laptops charged so I can fire off a few thoughts before the battery power runs out, too.

The teaching at the Bible college has been such a joy. The students are hard working and love studying. There is a good spirit in the college and they are eager to do well. We have great discussions.

Where the missionaries live (the ones I stay with) there is a guard dog that gets let out at night. He’s not the friendliest of dogs and I know I’m not going outside while I hear him wandering around.

There are calls to prayer all over the city. Orthodox is the dominant religion, so a nearby Orthodox Church has a loud speaker and they chant prayers for hours at a time. Right now I hear a call to prayer from a mosque. It will be much shorter than the Orthodox chants.

The news here is all international. There isn’t an Ethiopian news station. I can get world news all the time. It’s incredibly interesting and people here are incredibly informed.

The world is still a dangerous place and I notice the US is bombing inside Syria, now. Even before that, the news here shows things we don’t yet see in the U.S. because it hasn’t directly impacted the U.S. But it reminds me the world is still a scary place.

But our hope is greater. I meet amazing people who live in the power of the Spirit and they live with such hope. They serve with such joy. There are such great believers in Ethiopia, and some incredible missionaries. The ones I have met are so eager to serve here and they are so hungry to see the Kingdom of God come to reality in this nation.

I am abundantly blessed.

Batteries don’t last forever. The lights still aren’t on. I’ll find out more things to do in the dark now. But going outside isn’t one of those options. Not with Bingo the dog out there!

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!

Seven Days to Ethiopia

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.