by Joy Casey in Ethiopia
There is a tribal people group in Ethiopia that is 99% fundamental, radical Mus!im. They are taught to hate Christians and aggressively attack any Mus!im who converts. There are pockets of their territory where it is extremely dangerous to be associated with anything that has to do with Christianity. Five years ago when we commissioned 9 missionaries to bring the Gospel to this group, I knew it would be hard going and that has proved to be an understatement. On the day of commissioning these determined men I said to myself, “If I ever get to stand and worship in a church filled with “H” people, it will be part of a miracle.”
Sunday when I stood looking at faces studiously listening to God’s Word and singing with abandon to their Lord and Savior I witnessed that miracle. It was an emotional morning for me. I felt like I was standing on holy ground—certainly hard-won territory. My friend and traveling partner, Dinah Monahan, shares her thoughts and insights…
Sunday we attended church in a town that only five years ago had only one convert who had returned to be a missionary. This tribal people group is 99% fundamentalist Mus!im and very resistant to the Gospel. Yet, there we sat with about forty believers in their “church.” It was a lean-to with wood poles, fabric ceiling with black plastic covering. The floor was dirt and the pulpit area was decorated with looped toilet paper.
I have been in the most ornate cathedrals. I have heard exquisite choirs with full orchestras. And yet, I believe this humble church touches the heart of God. The drum, guitar and soul-felt singing is music that went directly to the ears of God! Man can create cathedrals to impress God, and perform musically with precision and perfection to move God, but these efforts are not for Him but rather the men who create them.
“This is what the LORD says: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Could you build me a temple as good as that? Could you build me such a resting place?”
These believers know that they risk being persecuted. Yet they sang loud and clapped to the rhythm and there was a joy and a passion in that little church that I seldom find in our trendy, modern buildings. Sure they have their normal human squabbling among their congregation. But there is something about knowing if you go to church you could be attacked and even killed that separates the wheat from the chaff!