by Jason Barta
I never thought my next report on our trip to Ethiopia would be written from the United States only days after landing in Ethiopia…but here I am in my office in Washington. God works in mysterious ways, and I know this is one of those times.
Dr. Antoinnette did two full-day sessions on leadership for 40 missionaries, evangelists, pastors, and church leaders. The training was excellent and there will be a blog to follow from Dr. Antoinette so I will not spend a lot of time talking about the training. I will say it was a great and will have a huge impact on the future leadership capabilities of these men and women.
Thank you, Dr. Antoinnette, for investing your time, energy, and knowledge with NewLife Ethiopia and its missionaries and church partners. We truly appreciate it and cannot thank you enough.
Tuesday night as we were discussing our trip to the orphanage the following day, we started to get reports about the Tigrayan Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) taking over two towns within 250 miles of Addis Ababa. There were rumors that they were headed to the Capitol City and had set up roadblocks on some major roads to control who went in and out of the key areas/towns controlled by the TPLF. Our in-country representatives shared some of the horrific acts they had been hearing about and how strategic the TPLF was in their bid to overtake the government and return to power. We also got an email from the US Embassy in Ethiopia about the movement of the TPLF closer to Addis. The email said the security had deteriorated significantly and a large portion of the A2 highway that connected Addis to other cities had to be restricted. All US Embassy staff were restricted to the city limits, and they suggested that all US civilians in Ethiopia consider leaving the country.
Shortly after that email, the US State Department put out an advisory that all US citizens leave the country as soon as they could and raised the travel alert to Red (this is the highest alert). Then the Ethiopian government issued a state of Emergency. So in the matter of a few hours, we went from — I think we can stay here and continue the work — to — Let’s pack, pray and set alarm clocks for 5 a.m. and head back to Addis.
We woke up early and started the 3-hour drive to Addis. We cleared three checkpoints and thanked God after each one; He was preparing a path home. Amid the chaos of people wanting to leave, we found hotel rooms. Fortunately, the internet stayed on in Addis so we could communicate with staff back home and asked them to book return flights for us that night. We took and passed a Covid test (answered prayer), and at 8 p.m. we were dropped off at the airport to start our journey home. It was bittersweet since we had so much planned, but this ministry is God’s and not ours. We were able to finish one of the two trainings, drop off many supplies for the orphanage and school, and touch base with staff and friends. We wish we could have stayed for the two weeks we had planned, but God had a different agenda and we had peace with the decision we made. It was a long and anxious day but we are blessed and thankful to be back home safe with our families.
Please, please, please pray for our staff, brothers and sisters in Christ in Ethiopia, and the country. There is a sense of fear and uncertainty of how all this is going to end, and we could feel that tension while we were there. Let’s join together in intercessory prayer for the country we all love and support as they are going through a very, very tough, uncertain, and scary time. Thank you for your prayers while we were gone. God bless you.