Joy Casey in Ethiopia
Our car bumped and weaved across dusty fields passing acacia trees, herds of camels and thatched round huts with semi-clad children playing while their colorfully dressed mothers busied themselves with daily chores.
We followed no road, our driver obeying the directions of our friend who recently moved back to his home village for the purpose of telling his neighbors about Jesus Messiah. Just to give you a little snapshot of the area… its location is well off the beaten track requiring a 4WD to get there, there is no electricity and water is hauled from a stream – water that is highly contaminated. There is no school, no clinic, and no public transportation. 80% of the population is M*slim, 10% Ethiopian Orthodox, 8% are idol worshippers with 2% evangelical Christians. There is no indigenous, replicating church anywhere around.
It may not sound like a lot, but through missionary ‘K’s’ recent ministry 20 adults/family units who previously followed the prophet M*hammad now call themselves Christ-followers. Property has been purchased and a church structure has been erected to keep out the wind and protect from the sun and rain.
A happy group singing to the beat of a drum welcomed us when we entered the makeshift building.
After sharing our greetings and words of encouragement, we were invited to K’s house for lunch and bunna (coffee). K’s wife, Iftu, is a beautiful woman greeting her guests with a radiant smile and her new baby in her arms.
Baby Emmanuel is only three months old and is one of those soft, fat babies it takes real restraint not to kiss every thirty seconds. Their two other little boys, Ephrem who is 7 and Elias who is 4, are precious, too.
There is no school anywhere near so ‘K’ is teaching Ephrem how to read, write and learn about numbers. There was an alphabet and number chart on the wall demonstrating the parents’ efforts to raise literate children. ‘K’ and Iftu live alongside K’s parents and his brother. There is always someone around to babysit!
Iftu served the most delicious doro wat (chicken stew) I have ever eaten. Fingers are the eating utensils and everything is eaten with Ethiopia’s cultural bread called injera. Prior to eating, hands were washed with our host pouring water over our hands, the dirt floor at our feet absorbing the spills.
Iftu also served an ethnic food created with butter she made herself flavored with cinnamon. It was not sweet as one might expect, but very good. She had decorated the top of it with a cross.
The cups of bunna served after the meal were rich and smooth, the perfect way to end our time together. It was with real reluctance we hugged our hosts good-bye.
This growing community of believers face many hardships, including widespread hunger due to drought conditions, but their joy and enthusiasm for what God is doing in their village gave me faith to expect that God will provide for their spiritual as well as physical needs. We are asking God for a proper church building and hope to enlarge the existing structure for a children’s church. 40% of Ethiopia’s population is under the age of 14 and we will invest in the youth of this area to ensure the next generation is well equipped to carry on God’s Great Commission to go into fields ripe for harvest. ‘K’ is one of those humble servants that I am sure will sit at a place of honor next to Jesus when all is said and done. It was a supreme privilege to see how the Holy Spirit is moving in this dusty village and to partake of K’s and Iftu’s hospitality.