written by Joy Casey
October is a rainy and cool month in Ethiopia, but this morning greeted us with blue skies and sun. I was traveling with two women from Lake City Community Church in Lakewood, Washington and spent two very full days in a town about three hours south of Addis Ababa. The scenery is beautiful in this part of Ethiopia and the green hillsides reflect the abundant rain of the last several months. Fields of teff (Ethiopian wheat) are almost ready for harvest, and wild flowers show off their vibrant colors everywhere.
We arrived in town about 10 a.m. and were ushered into one of the training rooms where boisterous singing emanated. Thirty people from M*sl*m backgrounds were in the final stage of preparing for their baptism.
They had come to this training center from various places to spend five days learning, worshiping, and praying to prepare for their new life as Christ-followers. After their baptism they will go back to their families and villages and share their newfound faith. They know it will not be easy and they are aware of the push-back and ostracism they will encounter from their all-M*sl*m culture, but they are committed to proclaiming Jesus as Lord. One new believer told me… “As energetically as I was a M*sl*m, I will now be active as a Christian. Jesus commands me to tell others, and I will do what He says.”
The person leading the singing and who does most of the teaching during the five days the new converts are at this training center is a 30-year-old man named Abrihim* (name changed). He was steeped in the M*sl*m religion and if he got the chance, he would beat Christians and ridicule their belief that Jesus as God.
One day he attended a wedding on horseback and suddenly the horse bolted and he was thrown off with his foot caught in the stirrup. He was dragged by the runaway horse but when he looked up at the horse he saw Jesus’ name boldly written on the side of the animal. He was badly battered and fearful for his life, so he finally yelled out the name written on the horse. The horse stopped immediately! Abrihim gingerly got up and after careful examination realized there were no broken bones and he was amazed to find there was not a scratch or bruise on him! The next two weeks, Abrihim was restless. He knew Jesus had done a miracle, but because of his ill treatment of Christians he couldn’t go to church.
He then met a man from a town far away who was a Christ-follower and was willing to spend time with Abrihim, showing Him the freedom and forgiveness found only in Jesus. For six months this man discipled Abrihim but it was very hard for him to turn away from his M*sl*m culture. Finally, he could resist no longer and dedicated his life to the One True God. Abrihim remained as youth coordinator in the mosque, hiding his new-found faith. He called 80 students and said, “Learn the Bible so we can stop Christians,” and for two months the group studied the Christian Bible. 40 of the young people claimed the Bible was magic and left, but 40 took God’s Word to heart and became believers in Christ.
For 3½ years Abrihim stayed in the mosque with prayers turned toward Jesus and he planted many seeds of who al-Mesih Isa really is. Eventually he was exposed as a Christian and expelled from the mosque. His wife was taken away to Saudi Arabia and given to another man, and he and his three children fled to the town we were visiting. Today, Abrihim is faithfully raising his children and is a church leader and gifted teacher with a heart to disciple and equip brothers and sisters of his tribe who have turned from Isl*m and placed their faith in the Lord Jesus.