by Joy Casey in Ethiopia
We left bright and early for our orphanage. The babies and toddlers had their morning bath and breakfast and were happily playing when we arrived. The bright and cheery playroom greeted us as we kicked off our shoes before entering the domain of fifteen precious little ones.
The children come into our care after being rescued by a compassionate person who finds them crying and alone without anyone to care for them. When this happens, the police are called and the children are registered with the Ministry of Women Affairs, who ultimately assigns them to our Joyful Place orphanage.
We love each and every one of them and receive them as an assignment from God Himself who is the Father to the fatherless. Our mission is to find Christian Ethiopians who will give them what every child requires… a family of their own.
Next we drove to visit missionaries from a tribe of an unreached people group of about 500,000 people. This is an extremely tough area and I was eager to meet our missionary-evangelists and have them share their challenges, successes and prayer needs.
Abrahim* and his wife hosted us in their home with a traditional coffee ceremony (the smell of roasting coffee is wonderful – Starbucks, eat your heart out!). The ceremonial dabo (bread) Abrahim’s wife made was soft and moist and delicious! While we sipped the rich Ethiopian coffee and munched on bread, popcorn and sweet Ethiopian bananas, the missionaries shared their stories that exposed their commitment to bring the Good News to anyone who will listen. In this area, Christians are actively persecuted. They are shunned, no one is allowed to sell a house or property to a Christ-follower, they are disowned by their families and oftentimes beaten, and it is very difficult to establish a place to gather for corporate encouragement and worship. But despite all of this, people are accepting the hope only Jesus can offer.
- In one village, 4 families recently came to the Lord and one M*slim women who, while walking along the road, was engaged in conversation leading to her conversion. There are now 25 adults gathering in a home to learn more about the radical life of a Christ-follower.
- Village #2** had 5 families recently join their fellowship along with one single woman. Because of fear of reprisal, only 9-12 people meet together at time, usually on a Friday night, but 30 children attend a children’s program the missionary started on Saturday mornings. Many converts meet in a home for several hours of prayer every Thursday evening. The missionary teaches his new converts through weekly visits to their homes providing one-on-one discipleship. He is a busy, busy young man!
- Outreach in village #3 is led by a determined man. When I visited in November, he and his flock met in different houses at different times to avoid community threat. But now he and 19 new Christians meet in one home on Saturday mornings… a big step! Since January, 7 people from this very fundamental M*slim tribe accepted Christ. Missionary J took them far away to teach them and then baptize them as it is far too dangerous to do so near to his village.
- The further from the main town, the easier it is to work among this people group. I am delighted to report that remote village #4 boasts 110 adults and 60 children as part of their home fellowship. Of course, that many people no longer fit into anyone’s home, so they meet outdoors. The good news is a piece of property has just been donated and construction of the first church ever in this area will begin! The missionaries in this village have also begun teaching women and children how to read. They need notebooks, pencils and benches. Would you like to help with this literacy endeavor? Read more about this here.
I think Tim and Shannon will agree there was no place else we would rather be this afternoon than in the company of these courageous, generous men. As Shannon put it, “I was equally burdened and encouraged by the unique way God is using these men in a place where it is very dangerous to be a Christian.” Tim said the time with these missionaries was the highlight of our time visiting here thus far. “I was so moved to be able to pray with and for these men, and in turn have them pray for us and High Pointe Church”.
I had the pleasure of placing an unpoppable soccer ball in the hands of each missionary. They were ecstatic to receive them and the balls will be used as an effective evangelism tool. We need to bring many more – wouldn’t you like to be part of this exciting outreach?
*not his real name
**for safety reasons, we do not share the names of villages where our missionaries serve