by Joy Casey
I am having a wonderful adventure with a group of people from Olathe, Kansas who are part of LifeMission Church, an exceptionally vibrant missional church. Everyone on the team are people I would choose to hang out with – we are the same “tribe” with hearts focused on building God’s Kingdom wherever it is He plants us. We are doing life together this week in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It is the rainy season, so boots, jackets and umbrellas are at the ready.
One day we visited a school that LifeMission provided funds to build. The van could only take us so far, and then it was quite a trek for a half-mile or so balancing on mud-covered rocks through mud puddles that were anyone’s guess as to how deep they were. At one point the slippery mud sucked the shoe right off my foot and down I went on all fours! Yep … I was pretty much mud head to toe, but I learned that mud is soft so no harm done (except to my ego). When we arrived at the school, everyone’s shoes were caked with mud … I was privileged to have mud more than just on my shoes. The lunch ladies at the school washed my hands and arms and I was good to go; nothing to be done for my clothes or shoes. The children, grades kindergarten through 4th grade, were fun (as always!) and the leaders shared their vision of adding grades through high school and then a technical college. Now that’s vision for you!
After that, we visited a large church (about 1200 people per service) that is newly constructed but not finished. However, there is a roof and a cement floor, so the building is being used for church and all kinds of activities. The LifeMission team came back the next day to host a VBS for the children and teaching for area pastors. Pastor Fikru said that the back wall of the church (which is just some pieces of tin right now) was designed to enlarge the space because they are growing at a rapid pace. He was full of joy and confidence that God would provide despite the fact that there are no windows or doors or even a safe way to enter the building – you have to balance your steps boulder to boulder to get to the construction site, but over a thousand people do just that every church service.
It has been fun getting to share the country I love with first timers. I get to see Ethiopia with fresh eyes as my new friends marvel over things I take for granted. I feel so privileged to get to be part of this group! LifeMission’s Global Mission Director, Pastor Jacob, will meet with NewLife’s Ethiopian team to understand our purpose and direction more fully; this is the main reason I was invited to join this outreach. LifeMission supports our bible school to train missionaries and pastors and is looking for other ways to impact unreached people with the Gospel.
So, as I often do on these trips, I come back to my room from a busy, full day and reflect on what God is doing and what He is asking of me. Faith. Jesus asks if he will find faith when He returns (Luke 18:8). The people I rubbed shoulders with today had both vision and faith and I definitely want to be among that crowd … yet, when I feel God stirring something new and big, I get anxious and think of all the ways it can’t work. But this evening when I took time to sit quietly with Jesus, I heard His calming voice whisper in my spirit, “You don’t have to figure it out. Just walk with Me — concentrate on keeping in step with Me instead of trying to anticipate My plans. If you trust that My plans are to prosper you and not to harm you, you can relax. I will make a way.” Whew!