Written by Barak Asbill
Let me start by saying how good it is to be back here in Ethiopia! We are very grateful for the opportunities to be able to come and spend what turns out to be too short of a time before it is time to leave again. On this trip it is particularly exciting to be able to bring our oldest daughter along for the experience of what it is like to be on the mission field. It seems as though it is but a few moments and our children are grown up and on their own; so when the opportunity presented itself, we knew that this would be a chance in a lifetime for Johanna. In no time at all she, along with the rest of us, soon experienced what it means to be on the mission field as the doors continue to open as many that we come in contact with are touched by the word that we bring.
There is a picture that I can equate the mission field to and it is the vast fields of grain which are grown in the Midwestern region of the United States. There is a stage in the growing season when the wheat turns to a golden yellow color indicating that harvest is near. “Amber waves of grain” is the expression that we hear used in reference to this sight for as the wind blows, it looks just like the waves of the sea. It is an experience worth remembering if you ever have a chance to see such a sight. On the same token I can find a parallel with this and the on-going work and labor here in Ethiopia. Consequently the experience of being here is like standing in the midst of one of those wheat fields, arms outstretched, running the palm of your hands across the top of the heads of grain and marveling at the design, form and purpose of the tiny seed that has multiplied into so many now ready to be harvested. On this trip there were no shortages of opportunities for testing the readiness of the harvest.
Our trip began on Saturday, May 24th, arriving in Addis Ababa to our welcoming party of brothers Burt, Fikre, and Jemal. It was very nice to get off the plane after nearly 35 hours travel time (it was a long layover in Paris). Over the next few days we had three different meetings in three different places. It is interesting to note that these are often specific appointments that the Lord provides as it is to accomplish two things: One, the exercising of our faith with respect to the purpose for which we are here and two, to all His people who call upon His name He has a responsibility to bring them a greater understanding of the Word as it pertains to the gospel of the kingdom. For both it becomes an opportunity to choose. These three meetings proved to be very good and a blessed time.
The next phase of our time was returning to Gondar; this time with the intended purpose of a longer stay so as to spend more time together with those we would meet. The time spent here proved to be more successful than I think anybody anticipated. We arrived in Gondar on a Wednesday with the first meeting that night, followed by two more on Thursday, one each day on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to return back to Addis on that Monday. It proved to be a very blessed time in the Lord as we were able to break the bread of life and get into some of the principles of the kingdom of God. It is very much like the parable of the sower in the aspect that there are those that have the good ground that are truly touched by the word. I think of one meeting in particular the word was going forth and touching on the aspect of handling the word like how Gideon’s three hundred handled the drinking of the water. This was followed by some prophetic administration to two people, a woman and a young man. There is a curious thought that comes to me as I am writing about this and that is the situations in the Bible when Jesus would only touch one or two in the crowd of so many as opposed to the times He would heal them all. We marvel at how sovereign our God is in the affairs of His people. As it turns out this young man was our taxi driver who, as a Christian was so extremely blessed and thankful by this divine touch of God. Consequently he happily became our taxi driver for the rest of our stay in Gondar. It is just marvelous to see the prophetic operation move so specifically touching these individuals in such detail of their lives and of the hope and plan of God. In addition to special moments like these, there are other doors opening up in Gondar, particularly with the university students that we have come into contact with. Some of them are graduating students who will be going back to their respective home areas in the different parts of Ethiopia and they have expressed the interest in further contact with respect to these areas. There were three in particular that were most interested at the prospect of this word being spread to other parts of Ethiopia. As you can imagine the potential that is represented by these possible opportunities would really expedite the thrust of the labor and work here in Ethiopia.
Upon returning to Addis from Gondar it was a week of catching up in the various things that are pertinent to living on the road, things such as laundry, as well as the weekday meetings, one at Salem Children’s Village and one at brother Jemal’s house. Let me just note that since the washing machine is broken (it has spun its last whirl), laundry has to be done by hand. Fortunately there is a place in the backyard that gives us the availability to do just that. So it is a process of washing in one tub, rinsing in another, and a finally rinse in another. The good news is that once on the line it doesn’t take long for the clothes to dry. So we manage and push on thanking the Lord for His goodness and mercy.
Perhaps the highlight for me thus far has been the trip to Kampala, Uganda. Following this week of coming back from Gondar, we were now off to sister Biri’s who is stationed there working for the UN. It proved to be a tremendous time of fellowship and breaking the bread with the saints of God. I do believe that Uganda would be the next target along with Ethiopia for some serious investment as far as ministry goes. Brother Ronald, also working for the UN, along with his wife, Margret, came over from the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) as well as several others plus there was a local contingent of brethren. The icing on the cake is the testimony that we all share in is that of sister Felicia. Felicia is originally a contact though sister Biri and subsequently brought to the knowledge of this word. She works for the UN and is stationed in the DRC. It was her desire to be able to come to this weekend gathering of saints but also, principally, it was in her heart to be baptized. At first her supervisor was not going to give the time needed to be able to come. Once we heard about this, we began to pray that the Lord would make a way for her. God answers prayer! Consequently, brother Ronald and I, along with sister Biri and brother Burt as witnesses, baptized her in Lake Victoria on the morning of the last day of meetings there. It was a glorious moment, again another move by the spirit that brings confirmation to the word that we are bringing.
As we are winding down the last few days here before we have to leave to go back for the States, we are very much encouraged by the things that the Lord is doing both here and in our lives. Our outgoing is with a measure of sadness as the time allotted is already gone. But we do take comfort that in the wake of our absence, the incoming brethren, Tomas Brchan and Martin Hloska can pick up where we have left off and help strengthen the work here in Ethiopia as well as the commitment of brother Burt and sister Nancy.
We genuinely appreciate all of your prayers and “keeping the lines of support open” to those who are on the forefront of this endeavor to Ethiopia at this time. As we work hand in hand, we all become partakers of the fruit, the blessing that comes forth.
May God bless you!