By Joy Casey in Ethiopia
Nov 4, 2017
What a day! We have been traveling the backroads from 7:45 this morning until 6 this evening. Backroads might not be quite accurate, as in the ‘road’ part of backroads. The three villages we visited are way off the beaten track and most of the time there was no road at all. Jason rode on the back of a motorcycle and Pastor Zerihun and I took a 4WD car. And the 4WD was a must! There is absolutely no way a regular vehicle could get to these villages. The only other transportation vehicles we passed were donkey carts and an occasional motorbike. The next time we visit these places, I am going to insist on doing it on a motorcycle Jason-style.
It may sound like I am whining, but actually, I like a good adventure seasoned with an occasional adrenaline rush. I got a workout of my upper body holding onto to whatever I could so I wouldn’t be tossed around with all the dips and twists and turns. It was fun!
But the real joy came meeting our Ethiopian partners working in areas that are unbelievably hard. I had heard that the persecution in these M*slim communities was intense, but it really doesn’t sink in until you hear the stories from the people it directly affects. In one place a man was killed because he shared the gospel. In another, 4 youth were put in prison for doing the same thing. Our lead evangelist in this area is constantly facing ridicule and ostracism as well as physical attacks. Common intimidation for Christ-followers comes in the form of unreasonable taxes, inability to find a place to rent, nobody buying your crops and former friends unwilling to greet you. The tribal community turns you away. In a climate like this, it is an extra-special miracle when anyone comes to Christ.
In one village, we have been trying to build a church for almost two years. With setback after setback, it is finally getting close to being finished. The evangelist-pastor is an incredible man of God and also a joy to be around.
We visited in his home and Jason and I got to hold his precious 1-month-old baby girl. That made our day!
His other two children and his wife received Jason and I with marvelous Ethiopian hospitality. Their house is right next to the new church.
Today, the back wall of the church was being mudded. It was interesting to watch three men dig dirt, add water and mix it together by stomping on it (wouldn’t that be some little boys’ dream job?). Then they added hay and mixed it into the mud until it was the right consistency to put over the stick framework.
Pastor-evangelist K started work in this village five years ago with four other believers. Today there are 50 adult Christ-followers.
Jason and his wife support the pastor-evangelist in our next village stop; it was heartening for Jason to meet him in person. The church was built on land donated by Pastor A, and people are slowly being added to their congregation of 60. It is a challenging area, but A’s joy-filled demeanor and optimism belies the many trials he has faced and overcome.
Our final jaunt was to a village where we are going to build a church. The congregation of 60 farmers meet in a rather small rented room right now. But they have scrimped and saved to come up with 19,000 birr ($826) to purchase land for a worship center. While that transaction was taking place, a friend called and said she wanted to donate $5,000 to build a church in Ethiopia and could I use her help. Today I took a picture of the lovely property set aside for church construction. She will be delighted to be a part of God’s plan for this remote area.
PERSEVERENCE is the one word I would use to describe the men serving in these communities. They are sold out 100% to following God and do not expect the road to be easy. They seek every opportunity to share their faith and follow-up with intense discipleship when someone accepts Jesus’ gift of salvation. Jason and I agree that it is an incredible honor to be in the company of these men.