by Joy Casey in Ethiopia
written Nov 5, 2019

Happy but tired is the consensus of Jason, Mikiyas, Zerihun and myself.  We had an early start to our day, heading to a village in a remote area where a church is under construction.  It is challenging to get to this place, but so worth the effort!

I visited the area in August and it was gratifying to see the progress of construction since then.  Because of the remoteness and other disadvantages, building has been difficult.  Rain is what is needed to provide water to make mud for the walls, and rain has been scarce.  Today we decided to lay pipes from a water source to the church property.  That will help with the mudding and water is also needed to make cement for the floor.

But enough about church construction!  As with any church building project, the myriad details can sometimes overshadow the reason for the church :  To have a place for believers to worship, pray and study God’s word.

The Word of the Lord for this area is John 4:35  

Look around, the fields are ripe for harvest.
The fruit that is harvested is people brought to eternal life.

We trust our missionaries and other indigenous believers to harvest the people… we get to concentrate on the beautiful ones who warmly welcome our group and are enthusiastically following Christ.  NewLife has three missionaries working in this widespread area and we are adding a fourth.  “A”* is a young man with a burning passion for Christ and knows He is called to preach God’s Word.  He is eager to listen to the Holy Spirit and is already faithfully sharing his faith with his neighbors.

We again were recipients of amazing Ethiopian hospitality, being welcomed into a nearby home of a believer.  We thought we were there just to say hello and express appreciation for all they do for the church, but it turned into a meal and tea time with about 15 others joining us.  I thought, “I wonder if Hirpo (the hostess) thought she would be entertaining a group when she started her day today?”  I doubt she did, but ushering us into her home, leading us to her bed to sit on and then admonishing us to “be good guests” (which meant eat, drink and visit) seemed to bring her much joy.  So, we relaxed, were “good guests” and enjoyed being in the midst of brothers and sisters following Jesus in this hard place.  I am always humbled to be invited into someone’s home and consider it a supreme privilege.

After eating and drinking cups of tea, we bid farewell to our hosts and headed over the hills (no road!) to visit one of our missionaries working in a town about 6 kilometers away.  6 kilometers didn’t seem so far to me, but the lack of any road at all made the journey… memorable.  All I will say is we couldn’t have made it without a 4WD.  The area is not conducive for motorized vehicles and I noticed we were the only ones foolish enough to try!  There are 10 believers in “M’s” village and they meet in one of their houses.

“M”, his wife and three little boys greeted us at their small hut.  It was too small for us to fit inside, so we remained outdoors and visited.  This family is full of the joy of the Lord and “M” has a passion for people like no other, but they have nothing in the way of material things nor anything to offer guests.  We had only a few hours to get back to Ziway before sundown and couldn’t stay long, but it helps me to see how our missionaries live and to meet their families.  Their dedication and willingness to suffer for the furtherance of the gospel challenges me profoundly.  I prayed for them from Psalm 33… “Let Your unfailing love surround them, Lord, for their hope is in You alone.” 

*Because the missionaries work in a 99% M*slim area, it can be dangerous for them to be identified on the web; thus, we don’t mention their names, show their pictures or specifically state their village.

These are the points I needed to remember today as I went about my work in this remote village regarding relationship vs task orientation:

Hot-Climate Culture

  • Are relationship-based
  • Communication must create a “feel-good” atmosphere
  • Efficiency and time do not take priority over the person

Cold-Climate Culture

  • Are task-oriented
  • Communication must provide accurate information
  • Efficiency and time are high priorities and taking them seriously is a statement of respect for the other person

*Page 30, Foreign to Familiar by Sarah Lanier