by Joy Casey in Ethiopia
We woke to the aftermath of a cooling rain (it has been hot!) but worried what the “roads” would be like to the village we were to go to. This is the anticipated day to meet 100 recently converted women in a M*slim dominated area. Dinah, Karen, Crystal and the women of their church put together 100 beautifully decorated bags with small gifts inside and had also fundraised to provide each lady with a solar powered audio bible
Many hands made this special day of encouragement and blessing possible. A generator was loaned to us from a church in the nearby town along with a keyboard, food was prepared, speakers and worship leader were ready, and friends, both Ethiopian and American, were praying. We headed out, hoping the van would make it through the lakes and rivers the roads had become due to the rain. Thankfully the sky cleared to future threats of rain.
The women came from three villages. Some walked several hours to join us – and then we heard singing and clapping as a bajaj full of women pulled up to the church. A bajaj’s capacity is four people if you are squeezed tightly. To my astonishment, the singing women started piling out… six, seven… nine, ten! If I had not witnessed it with my own eyes, I would not have believed that tiny mode of transportation could have possibly held ten grown women. They greeted us with the traditional greeting of kisses and hugs and we all filed into the church to join the exuberant worship.
What joy to be in the company of sisters who love the Lord, eager to soak in His refreshment. My good friend Dinah can connect with a group of women like no one else. She had them laughing and engaged in no time. Her topic was God’s view of women, how He treasures and honors them and His longing for them to commune with Him.
Pretty soon the smells from the outdoor cooking fires called us to break for lunch. Goat meat in a savory wat (like a stew) loaded with vegetables eaten with injera (Ethiopia’s cultural bread) was a treat extraordinaire for women who rarely have meat to eat. After finishing lunch, small groups gathered on the grass outdoors and visited until once again the worship music started calling them back for the afternoon session.
The post-lunch teaching was brought by a pastor coming from a M*slim background. The stories of Hannah and Ruth were shared showing how they turned to God with their need and how He heard them – and how God yearned to hear from them, too. After the message, eight women came forward, five to confess and rededicate themselves and three gave their lives to the Lord for the first time! The local pastor took their information and will follow up with each of them. We joined the angels rejoicing in heaven to see how the Holy Spirit had drawn hearts.
It was a day full of quintessential Ethiopian smells, sights and sounds to be experienced nowhere else. As is so often the case, we left blessed to our core by the warm hospitality of our village sisters. Our cultures are polar opposites in just about every way, but our bond in the Lord Jesus transcends the differences in language, culture and lifestyles. While I had my eyes closed listening to the unfamiliar yet beautiful worship surrounding me, I got a foretaste of Revelation 5: “Every tribe and language and people and nation … praising God.”