by Joy Casey in Ethiopia
written May 2, 2018
I am showered, dressed and ready to finish my work this last day in Ethiopia. I have one hour to myself before lugging my bags to the car for the last time. There are many thoughts swirling in my head — I am hard pressed which ones to share with you.
I write a lot about baptisms, I know. This obedient step is integral to the Christian walk. I enjoy the baptisms that are celebrated at my church. I distinctly remember my own baptism at twelve and then again at age twenty-three when I rededicated my life fully to Christ. When my grandson was baptized in their pool by his grandfather and father, it was a special, memorable time. Each occasion causes rejoicing and can be celebrated by a special gift or meal commemorating the rite of passage. It is an outward act of an inner decision to follow Jesus wholeheartedly, but in and of itself does not radically change the trajectory of our lives. Nor do we suffer because we were baptized.
The 28 men and women I watched immersed in an outdoor cement baptismal had only very recently decided for Christ. In order to accept Jesus as Lord they had to forsake their previous religion and worldview. They understood perfectly that when they assented to baptism their lives would be changed forever. Eternal life with God, yes, but also extreme push-back from their families and tribe. One man was so terrified of baptism that he was visibly trembling all over and saying, “I will lose everything by doing this. Please say you’ll help me!” He was told that if he was not ready, he could come back any time; there was no pressure on him to declare his faith publicly. His head dropped and he said, “I believe in Jesus. His command is baptism. I am very afraid, but will depend on Him.” I never saw a braver act.
These new converts go back to their villages and families and tell about their security in eternity and how sins are forgiven completely because of God’s grace, not anything they can do. Most are thrust away from their families, at least for a time. Some are in physical danger. All experience rejection from their tribal society. This is why it is so important to build a Christian community in each of the villages where our missionary-evangelists are working. It is imperative for new Christ-followers to have support emotionally and also have a place to worship and study the Word.
In a remote M*slim village and over the past 2-3 months 16 people have been baptized! Church is held in the house of an evangelist I have known for many years and he told me 25-30 people are coming to church and needing discipleship; he is out of space. His village needs a church building! These are the first converts in his village and when a church is built, it will be the first Christian worship center, too. It is amazing how God is using this humble, quiet man to build His kingdom!
I said yes to building a church, even though we have no money for it. I know it is God’s heart to plant disciple-making churches and He will provide. Simultaneous to me learning about this need, NLE got an email from a friend of the ministry donating $1500 for evangelism to be used where it is most needed. Neither this person or our staff had any idea that finances were needed to build a church. Wow! We are a quarter of the way toward the $5,000 it takes to build a stick and mud church. God, through His people, is faithful! Should you want to help build His church, you can donate through our gift catalog or mail in a check….
PO Bo 731783
Puyallup WA 98373
THANK YOU for helping spread the Gospel in this remote area!