August 14th, 2007
By the time you are reading this, it will be near the end of the year 2007. This was written by yourself to remind you to keep the flame going about what God has shown you in Ethiopia.
You’ve met wonderful people, both missionaries and locals, who love Christ with all their lives. You met Mike and Janelle, who have a daughter together coming up on their end of 3 year commitment as missionaries. They shared on just great things that God has been doing in Gambela. You met Rachel and Mike who have strongly encouraged long-term commitments. Rachel is a second-generation missionary serving as a nurse. She also wanted to connect with the Korean hospital in the area (Myungsung Christian Medical Center) as they will be raising a nurse school soon. Rachel also showed you a new light onto the mission field by breaking the typical mission field perspective with an awesome news: as China has been sending lots of construction workers to Africa to build roads and buildings, those that come down to countries like Kenya and others learn about Christ through other African Christians, accept Christ, and return to China as missionaries! That is such a crazy idea that it can only be God to work in such amazing and unexpected way! God is truly awesome!
You also met up with Dr. Rob Weingartner, the CEO of The Outreach Foundation. He and his wife shared about seeing how God works in Ethiopia. The local Evangelicals are beyond our levels of excitement. When they plant a new church, almost simultaneously, they create at least two “preaching points”. These are places at least an hour’s walk away from the new church where they start preaching. This Evangelical church (aka. Ethiopian Evangelical Church of Mekane Yesus) movement that started with about 5000 members back in the ‘50s are now flourishing at over 5 million! They are getting so much bigger now that they started a missions organization. You see, 4 out of 5 neighboring countries are Muslim countries (Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan, and Djibouti). These people started the outreach with two models in mind: education and health. They would go out and teach the locals how to read, and give health treatments. After establishing great relationship, they would request the local government to build a church. Most likely, the request would be turned down. However, the locals usually end up standing on their behalf and the cause for their argument is, “You (government) haven’t done anything for us. These (Christians) people have come to help us read and make us get better. Leave them be and let them build their church.” Praise God indeed.
Ethiopia is becoming a great country of Christ and becoming the “new Korea” in terms of spiritual inheritance. As we saw God’s working, we also got our first-hand look at how HIV is tearing this country apart. Even though Ethiopia is #2 in deaths and orphans due to AIDS/HIV, there’s still very much heavy stigma in the country. However, there are people like Rev. Ayano (preacher against HIV/AIDS stigma), Meskerem (a beautiful sister who had lost both parents and several siblings to AIDS), Tesfa the Public Health Nurse, Mr. Teferi, Pastor Solomon (who lost his family to AIDS, is HIV positive, married a HIV positive woman, had a God-given gift HIV negative 1-year-old daughter), and many of Zion Pilgrims Association members. With them, we also had visited some of the worst living condition areas like Jaja where socially outcast HIV-positive families (even if they are negative themselves, they are outcast if their family members are positive) live in less than $1/day income without even clean water or latrines! However, when I saw them, I felt their hearts not asking for pity, but just acceptance. These wonderful people were trying to make a “positive living” in Christ. Though their lives are nothing of grandeur, because Christ loves them, they have hope. I felt compelled to stop feeling pity for them, but just to encourage them, that we don’t consider them as outcast, but rather as a brother and sister in Christ, accepting them as one of our own. That “take pity” attitude quickly subsided in all of us, and we only wanted to encourage them in their battle against their society, and in their positive living. In our visit to ZPA’s Wednesday service, we felt the people’s hope in Christ, budding inside of them. To them, just the fact that we “the Americans” came to share Christ’s word and love meant the world of encouragement to them.
There were several others like Samson who had wonderful ideas of caring for the poor and forgotten elderly people. MCM also had the right ideas of empowering the local people for long-term support by educating the local medical people. Elder Moon, the director, had given us a generous talk and time to share his vision of MCM with us. Though they have been doing well greatly, he also pointed out how they need to work together with other Korean-Americans who are able to speak Korean and English well to communicate better as the Korean missionaries and medicine personnel were feeling the language barriers. He wanted us to convey that message and challenge our bilingual people to help out in administrative as well as medical side of the operations.
Though it was the American tourists that had ruined the locals to ask and beg for money, I found the Ethiopians in general to be very polite and kind people. People we were introduced to treated us so kindly that I felt uncomfortable many times as if they were putting us on a pedestal.
I never want to forget that these are “the least of my brethrens” that Christ spoke of. There are millions of orphans in Ethiopia due to AIDS. God has spoken always in support of the orphans, the widows, the poor, the aliens, the forgotten. If I ever become too complacent or too hardened in light of all this that God has shown me, I want to disown myself. We can always do something. And even if it seems small at times, we are not God in that we know the outcome already nor can we say it’s all for naught. Just like a good soldier, I must simply obey what Christ has told me and keep on…. keep on loving and sharing that love. If it means supporting one young woman’s (Meskerem) education, if it means supporting one school of Mekane Yesus School (an all-girls’ Christian school as women are considered “lower” in the culture and society), so be it. God has infinite ability to multiply everything a hundred times, even a thousand times!
I just don’t want myself to be left out in these great things that God is doing around the world! May I live not to disappoint Him, the One who has accepted me for who I am, despite all my iniquities and short comings. To Him be all the glory. Amen.
Your brother in Christ,