by Joy Casey in Ethiopia
Saturday Jan 17
It is 6:30am and the sky is pink and blue, ushering in a beautiful day. Abebe and Abonesh, my dear friends and colleagues, and I head off the plateau of Addis Ababa down into the Rift Valley to course our way to a village where, four years ago, the Holy Spirit awakened hearts to seek Him. This good-sized village of 5,000 people spreads over a piece of the African savannah and offers an agrarian lifestyle to the people who are mostly born and raised there with little outside influence. Two years ago, the first-ever Christian Church was built and is a hub for evangelistic thrust to neighboring villages resulting in two new church plants in 2014.
Today was a special day in the life of the church. One-hundred Christian women gathered for a day of teaching, worship and fellowship. There is no electricity in this village, so a generator, portable sound system and keyboard were brought in along with a special worship leader who was outstanding.
As our van pulled up to the church, energetic singing emanated from the open door and windows, and I could hardly wait to step into the midst of these dear women and join them in worship. I took in the scene of the ten evangelists serving this area standing around the parameter of the benches praying and worshipping and many women had babies strapped on their back or toddlers sitting and playing at their feet.
A former M*sl*m believer from a nearby town brought a good message about the women of the Bible encouraging the women to take warning from the bad ways of some (like Jezebel) and to emulate the faith and prayer of the faithful. His style completely engaged the women and he wove humor among the nuggets of teaching. He then asked women to come forward who wanted special prayer regarding their husbands, and with humility and tears many women came forward to be prayed for.
A hot lunch of goat tibs (kind of like a stew) was prepared and served with injera, Ethiopia’s cultural bread, along with the customary berbere spice. It smelled and tasted heavenly!
The evangelists served the plates of food to the women and then partook of their refreshment. I need to point out several unusual things about this scenario…
It is a rare thing for a woman to be served delicious food without any effort on her part, eating meat is not a common occurrence, and having men serve women in this culture is a big deal! Large buckets of water were brought to the church and cups of refreshing water rounded out the yummy meal.
Abonesh is the accountant for Adoption Ministry, but she is also a dynamic Bible teacher and eagerly accepted the challenge to speak into the lives of these relatively new converts to Christianity.
Abonesh explained John 1:9-15 and that when we receive Christ’s salvation we are children of God. In God’s family everyone is equal in His eyes regardless of race, economics or gender, unlike the cultural hierarchy these women are used to. She brought further clarification of who Father God is and His daily grace and desire to commune with us. She ended by reading Proverbs 31 showing how God will give us strength to serve Him by stretching out our hand to our neighbors and diligently serving our family and community.
I brought with me a wonderful surprise for these dear ones! My friend Dinah Monahan, with the help of the women at her church, bought solar powered lights and asked me to distribute them to each woman who attended the conference. These lights are unique in design and are made of plastic with bright LED lights that have a low and high power and put off an incredible amount of light. None of the women have electricity in their homes, so this gift was extraordinarily precious to them. I wish you could have seen their faces! They were giddy with surprise and joy and left the church filled to the brim with a fresh encounter with God and a tangible expression of love from sisters on the other side of the world. Dinah and Mike Monahan provided the financing for this conference, and the only downside to the day is that they were not able to be there to share this amazing experience.