It has been a tremendous blessing to read the various mission trip reports that different ones have written. I have appreciated the descriptions and insights they have faithfully shared with us over the years to try to give us a taste of their experiences. As I have been here in Ethiopia, my first time ever, there have been many sights, sounds, and experiences that have left an impression on me; to say that life here in Ethiopia is vastly different than life in the States would be an understatement. I find that things that others have shared and relayed to us take on a whole new dimension of understanding when you experience them in person.
We first arrived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Tuesday, February 5, in the evening. After getting off the plane, we then proceeded to purchase our visa for entry into the country. We waited in a line that eventually entered into an office-type area. There were six people, two groups of three, who worked together to fill out the visas. I found it very interesting that the whole process was done by hand – nothing was done by computer; in fact, there wasn’t a computer to be had in that whole area. As I look back on it now, what first struck me then was a foreshadow of how many things are done here in Ethiopia – by hand. Many of the things that have been computerized or mechanized in the U.S. or Europe are done by man-power here. This isn’t to say that one way is better than the other; for although mechanization makes life easier in some ways, you can’t help but realize that there is something to said about human interaction.
When we came out of the airport, amidst the masses of people, we immediately recognized Dad and Mom Asbill’s smiling faces. I’m not sure who was happier to see each other, us or them, but I can say we were delighted to see them. I was next introduced to Brother Jemal and Brother Fikre. I would like to add here that I feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to get to know these two brothers. They have been extremely instrumental in the work here in Ethiopia and have been very diligent in wanting to reach their people with the gospel. Both Brother Jemal and Brother Fikre have been a delight to be around; they put a smile on your face and countless times we have had good laughs together. Probably what strikes me the most though is their sincerity in heart and desire for the Word of God.
We then departed to what has become our “home” for the duration of our trip. Although I have not had the experience others have had staying in different places here in Ethiopia, I can understand their appreciation for two things that seem to be foremost in what they have shared concerning this provision: the air that is not quite so polluted here compared to in the city, and the security that we have in this area. This house has indeed been a provision from the Lord. Another thing that has been a great blessing to all of us is that we have a kitchen where we can make meals. I would be remiss not to mention how grateful we all are to Mom Asbill for her labors of love in this area. When you are in a foreign country, you do not have the grocery stores or ingredients that you are used to available. Mom has done an excellent job using the resources she has had at hand to make us wonderful meals!
Later that evening, or rather early the following morning, Brother Tomas Brchan from the Czech Republic arrived. He has been a tremendous blessing to have with us and has been a real asset to the team on this trip. We really appreciate Brother Tomas’ sensitivity in the Spirit and firmness in the Word.
The following day we attempted to overcome jet lag and that night Brother Jemal and Brother Fikre picked us up and we went to a meeting in a Pentecostal-type church. Now the word “church” might bring to mind an image of a type of building that we would be accustomed to in the States, but this church is quite different from that image in that it is constructed out of corrugated sheet metal. It seems that the Lord has opened a door for the brethren to be able to minister here; in fact, one particular young man who serves in some position in this church has a desire for the things of the Lord and has been very receptive to the Word. This particular evening the message ministered was on darkness within the soul and darkness within our environment and how we need to overcome both. You can sense in the hearts of the people in Ethiopia a real hunger for the Word of God. We thank God for His anointed Word which has the power to touch men’s souls!
The very next day we had some real adventures around the house. We woke up to find that we didn’t have any water coming into the house, and when someone went to step out the back door and inspect the water tank, it was discovered that the back door could no longer open! As we went out through the front door and around the back, we found that the water tank was indeed empty. This was a new challenge for us! You know, you can begin to see a pattern of how spiritual warfare works. When you hit the devil by bringing the Word, and it is not just any message, but it is a Word that has the power to change men’s souls, this ultimately puts the devil in a precarious position. So guess what he does? He tries to throw out some road block; he tries to trip you up in either big or small details. Well, we weren’t tripped up. In fact, we had what I would call “an adventure” passing breakfast dishes outside the kitchen window (remember how I mentioned the back door no longer opened?) to wash them in a plastic tub with water hauled in buckets from the neighbor’s house. After drying them, we passed them back into the house – again via the kitchen window. Although we were rejoicing in the midst of this situation, you can imagine that we were very thankful that by mid-afternoon the water tank began receiving water. Isn’t it amazing how you don’t really realize how important and convenient it is to have running water in the house? Speaking for myself, I know I take it for granted. When I go to turn on a faucet in the house, I never stop and think, “Hmmm, I wonder if water will come out?” It is something that is readily available to us, and I never stop and think of the possibility of it not being there.
Around four o’clock that same afternoon we traveled to Brother Jemal’s house for fellowship. We gathered together in the living room of his three-room house along with about ten men, some who are pastors in area churches. After prayer the brothers began to sing a song in Amharic, the Ethiopian language. Brother Fikre invited us to sing a song for them in English so we sang, “There is Power in the Blood.” After that, Brother Tomas, Barak, and Dad Asbill all shared (in that order) and it was amazing to see how as one began to speak, the Lord would quicken the other, and when they finished giving what God had given them, the other would share what God had given to them. Although three people shared, it was one word; it fit together perfectly, just like a puzzle and it was evidence of the Spirit of God moving in our midst. In fact, had it been orchestrated it would not have flowed even half as well! The word that the Lord ministered started out in Revelation 12; I will just give a few of the verses here to give some of the context. Verse 7 says, And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, 8 And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. Verse 11, And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. We know that there is indeed a war that is going on and the prize at stake is the soul of man. For me, personally, I find myself in a daily, oftentimes moment by moment battle and I have to stop and ask myself, “Who am I going to serve?” My answer to that question is played out in my every decision, attitude, and thought and God has been impressing upon me how critical it is that I make the right decisions, even in things that might seem inconsequential. I am becoming more and more aware that each step I take will either draw me closer to the Lord, or change my destiny to something outside of the plan and purpose of God for my life. This comes back to Revelation 12:11 which highlights the tools that we need to overcome. First of all, we know we must have the Blood of Jesus. Next, we have the word of their (my, your) testimony. The Lord has been speaking to us that this testimony isn’t just a one-time experience, but everyday we are creating a testimony. That thought has been such an encouragement and inspiration to me to create that testimony for righteousness’ sake. The third “tool” here is loving not our lives unto the death. I find that choosing to move righteously in any given situation is generally not agreeable to self and the soul-nature that I was born with. But praise God, what Life there is for us as we lay down our own life!
After the meeting, Brother Jemal and his wife served us tea and cake. Being served like this in Ethiopia is quite a humbling experience because you see and understand how very little these people have. Their warmth and hospitality overwhelms you but, as a side note, you would never want to refuse!
The next day, Friday, February 8, we flew from Addis Ababa to Gondar (a distance of about 700 km), a city in the northern portion of Ethiopia. Although Addis is Ethiopia’s capital, we found out that Gondar was the original capital of the country. Gondar is called the “City of the Kings” because it was here that the monarchy lived and ruled. This area that we were in is also nearby where the source of the Nile River starts. It seems that there is much spiritual significance here – many ancient, ruling spirits. Brother Jemal had a contact in this area so arrangements had been made for meetings over the course of this weekend.
Gondar is home to several universities so most of the meetings we had were comprised of students. In the first meeting that we had there were about 150 young people/students. The message given by Dad Asbill was on God’s plan for our lives and the desire that God has in His heart to have a relationship with us. The following morning meeting was held with about a dozen men and a couple of their wives. These men are mostly leaders in their local churches. The meeting was split into two sessions; Barak shared the first session and Brother Tomas shared the second and both sessions dovetailed perfectly together. The teaching that was given was on God’s desire from the beginning to have sons. We know that how this process is to take place is found in the pattern of the Tabernacle so the teaching included an overview of that. Each one attending the meeting was given an Amharic Pattern and at the end of that session, dad told them that we would be happy to return if they would like us to – to this a man in the back loudly replied, “YOU ARE WELCOME!!!” That evening we returned to this same church, a building with walls made out of some sort of block and concrete, a ceiling of corrugated sheet metal, its door was like the door on a train car, and it had a dirt floor. There were only a few light bulbs to light the building, but can you imagine my surprise to step into this building that was packed full with people from front to back. The only seats left in the place were what they had saved for us in the very front row! This meeting was also made up of mostly students – about 300 of them! Dad Asbill shared the message that evening and it was on eternity and God’s plan for man from the beginning of time. Afterwards we talked with some of the young people and were able to pass out the books and booklets we had brought with us. You can really see the potential for these young people to grab hold of the Word for they have a hunger for the things of the Lord.
We have been extremely blessed by our trip to Gondar; the Lord answered many prayers that were prayed concerning it. We had prayed for the anointed Word of God to flow in the meetings, and it did. We prayed that God would touch the hearts of people there, and He did. We prayed that the Lord would open doors for us to return that His Word might go forth and be established, not only in this place, but also in the hearts of His people, and the doors are opening!
The next morning brought a whole new Ethiopian experience to me. We were awakened to the sounds of chanting in the wee hours of the morning. This chanting was being broadcast over loudspeakers very close by where we were staying. We did not know if it was Muslim chanting or not, but soon found out it that it was from the Coptic Church. I don’t exactly know how to describe this type of sound; first of all, different speakers are placed in various locations and the result is that the broadcast is extremely loud. The second thing that you notice is that the chanting is more than just an annoying sound… since its origin is demonic, its intent is to disrupt and disturb. As you might imagine, there wasn’t anymore sleeping for any of us! I was talking with Dad Asbill about this and he began to relay to me how the chanting will change and it begins to sound like a code, or a message is being broadcast. Wouldn’t you know it that a short while later the undulation of the chant changed and it began to sound like a message, almost a Morse code-type of message that was being broadcast. In these situations you become very aware that you are not fighting against flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places (Ephesians 6:12).
We arrived back in Addis on Sunday and on Monday we went to Selam Village, an orphanage and school located right in the midst of Addis Ababa. I went with Mom Asbill to the preschool room where she has been having Bible time with a group of about 20 children ages 3-12. The children all love the teachings and songs. We sang, “If You’re Happy and You Know It…” and one little boy, who is about 4 years old, would loudly sing out, “Yes, sir!” each time we came to the end of the song. The next song we sang was “I May Never March in the Infantry…” and he was able to sing his, “Yes, sir!” in all the right places. This was a very sweet experience for me to partake in. It is a precious door indeed that the Lord has opened to be able to minister to these young ones. At the very end mom gave them each a bag of popcorn and all the children had big smiles on their faces!
While we were with the younger ones, Dad Asbill, Brother Tomas, Barak, Brother Jemal, and Brother Fickre were with a group of young people – about 8-10 of them. Their ages are 15-24. When we finished with the younger children, Mom A. and I went to the room where the older group was. You can really see the fruit that is coming forth in the lives of these young people. These are the same young people who Dad Asbill and Brother Mark Jantzi were able to have two weeks of teaching sessions with. These two brothers were able to lay down foundational principles and Tabernacle teaching. It is pretty incredible to see how sincere these young people are for the true Word of God. They have been reading the Pattern and they will get together to pray and talk about the things that they are learning. If they have questions, they will have discussions with each other and get into the Word of God to find the answers. They gave their testimonies as to how the Word is changing their lives and how much they love it.
As our time here in Ethiopia is coming to a close, I am so appreciative to the Lord for this time that we have had. You can see the hand of God upon this people and this country. For a long time there has been much poverty and devastation here, but there is a hunger in the hearts of the people for a living, viable relationship with God. In many ways, it is a fruit ripe for the picking. We thank God for the harvest that is ready here in Ethiopia – may God help us to have a heart to labor in this field in whatever capacity He gives into our hand to do!
We sincerely thank you all for your prayers!
May the Lord bless you,