by Joy Casey

Our plan this morning is to go to a church that was started by one of the missionaries High Pointe Church in Washington supports.  If you have been reading my posts, you will know that the Missions Director for High Pointe, Steven, and a member of High Pointe’s Missions Strategy Team, Dan, are traveling with Jason and me.  It has been a pleasure to show our friends what NewLife does here in Ethiopia among hard-to-reach people groups.  Travel is rough, but these men are tough and get through long days like champs.

I wanted our guests to see a well-run literacy program and then we hoped to just play ball and jump rope with the kids and have fun.  Reality rarely agrees 100% with how we think things will go, so we entrusted our day to God for Him to direct as He chooses.  Steven’s stomach was not cooperating with him today, so it was just Jason, Dan and I.

We walked into a church full of happy people worshipping with all their might.  Their enthusiasm was contagious, and I found myself clapping and dancing (well, almost …) and joining in their exuberant worship.  Worshipping with African brothers and sisters is so much fun!  I was full of joy, brimming with thanks for God allowing me to be a small part of what He is doing.

We greeted the people and Dan and I shared a short message from God’s Word.  I had no idea that so many from the church would be there to greet us and want to hear a message from God, but we were glad to oblige.

Dan talked about letting our light shine from Matthew 5 and used the candles burning on the pulpit to illustrate Jesus’ teaching.

Because we were a novelty, many more than the 30 registered children for school were there.  Literacy teaching is two hours, twice a week, a total of four hours a week.

I was delighted to observe several of the children reading!  About half of the students are able to read, some more fluently than others.  Not for the first time I wished we had a simple children’s Bible as part of our library.   A children’s Bible or a Bible storybook does not seem to exist in Ethiopia – at least my searching has not discovered one.  We have so many resources for children in America and so few in Ethiopia.

Listening to people’s conversion stories is always interesting and educational, and we were not disappointed listening to three men share the details of what led them down the path from Islam to Christianity.  Each story is unique, and their struggles caused me to assess my own faith journey.  I was highly challenged by the boldness and persistence of the missionary who played a central part of each story.  These amazing God-stories will be shared in later posts as they deserve their own space.

The women of the church had prepared coffee and food for us, so we were ushed to the table ladened with popcorn, roasted peas, dabo (bread) and a delicacy presented in an ornately beaded container.

Dan was the chosen one to open the container and spoon the cultural butter onto plates.  Its consistency is not greasy; it is more like wet brown sugar but not sweet and is laced with spices — Ethiopians love it!  It is only served for special occasions, so we were honored to have it.   Ethiopian hospitality trumped our playtime with the children.  It was getting quite hot outdoors by this time, so probably for the better.

We also wanted to go with our missionary to his home.  Three months ago, his 4-year-old boy became lame for no discernable reason.  He had an MRI, and the doctors could find nothing that would cause paralysis of his legs.  At first the little boy was in quite a lot of pain, but that has subsided … he just cannot walk or move his legs.  We had an emotional prayer time today laying this burden before our Lord.

Our day ended sitting outdoors enjoying the warm evening and good conversation over dinner.  Thankfully Steven is feeling much, much better and is looking forward to the remaining four days he and Dan have in Ethiopia.