by Joy Casey

The faithful love of the LORD never ends!

His mercies never cease.

Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning.

Lamentations 3:22, 23

I love the hope this verse gives us … every morning we wake we can be hopeful that God will use us to bless someone that day.  Or maybe we will be the recipient of someone else’s smile or hand-up.  We just never know what the day will bring, but we can know Who walks with us.  Throughout the day I remind myself to look for love notes God leaves in my path if only I have eyes to see.  Right at the moment, I am in a unique setting doing things I don’t normally do with few everyday distractions.  It’s almost as if God shouts His love notes to me and His presence is so very near.  Believe me, it isn’t always like this, but I savor these times when I have them.

Our core staff in Ethiopia

Perhaps my posts seem a little cookie-cutter – one mud church after another.  People getting audio Bibles.  Children learning to read.  Bumpy roads.  Hearing about miracles. Children getting adopted.  However, each one of those broad topics involves the lives of individual people.  Each church has a unique personality.  Each village is a societal microcosm of its own and the tribal politics – I try to unravel but never, ever will entirely grasp.  How can we fully know the impression audio Bibles will have on one person’s life, or who can comprehend the impact on an orphan adopted into a loving Christian family?  Can a simple mud church truly impact a community?  What might be the future of a little girl who is the first person to read in her family?  We do know the outcome for those who come to Christ and should always rejoice in His touch, whatever form it takes.

I shouldn’t have favorites, and maybe all the churches are ‘favorites’ when I am there, but the missionary who birthed the Christian community in the difficult town we went to today has a special place in my heart; his whole family has.  Missionary “K” has been with us since we started and has weathered some pretty gnarly persecution, always with unshakable faith and his trademark smile.

We found him in the schoolroom (thank you, Nichols, for this provision!!) teaching letters to 40 exuberant children.  “K” is a very effective evangelist and leader, but watching him you would think he was born specifically to teach kids.

His was not a quiet, solemn classroom.  It was active and participatory, with the children vying to be called on to write the answer on the blackboard.  About 60% of the children are from Muslim families.  Their parents allow them to come despite the grave warnings of the Imam not to send them.  “K” said some had stopped coming, but nevertheless the class was full of energetic children with a few toddlers wandering around as well.

This cutie-pie is a future scholar!

We built the schoolroom anticipating the start of a formal kindergarten like we did in another Mus!im village that has been extremely influential in opening doors in the community.  The building was built, but we were unable to attract sponsors for twenty students.  We hope this will come about in the future!  Even so, the building is well used for literacy and Christian education classes.

We have two missionaries here, one is new.  They invited us to have coffee with them and some of the church leaders to share their plans and challenges and also to hear from us.  This church fellowship gets an A+ for hospitality!  Every time I have come, and Zerihun says every time he comes, the women go out of their way to prepare food and the legendary, rich coffee of Ethiopia.  Big chunks cut from a very large, thick round bread called difo was passed around and a platter of boiled sweet potatoes was set before us.  We sat in the shade of the church enjoying the refreshments and each other’s company, listening and learning.

At the end of discussion, we prayed together.  This is an extremely challenging area, but the energy of the dedicated Christians is inspiring.  In 2022, 17 families were part of their fellowship; 11 more families joined this past year making the total number of people (kids and adults) 80-ish.  Both missionaries always have several people they are having spiritual conversations with.  This is hard-core Mus!im territory, but steadily God is drawing hearts to Himself.

After our delightful time at this church, we hit the road.  We are leaving this area and heading back toward our orphanage.  A full day is ahead of us tomorrow there, so stay tuned!