Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
[To view photos from this trip click here.]
And we did indeed arrive in Addis Ababa on Thursday night, February 24th just as planned. The flight made a quick stop at Khartoum, Sudan and then after a refueling finished the journey to Ethiopia. I was delayed a bit at the airport customs check because of the printer that we were taking for the brethren and subsequently ended up paying a tax. But Nigest and Henock were waiting for us and took us immediately to the SIM Guest House. We got into bed about midnight and it was a very quiet night, probably because the electricity was out for most of the night. Right after breakfast Sister Nigest arrived from the airport again with Burt and Nancy Asbill.
When we landed at the airport after 10 PM the temperature was 60 F (about 15 C) and the altitude is over 7000 feet. Because of the altitude it is cooler than West Africa and also considerably dryer.
After a little more rest for all of us we were ready to meet with the local brethren by late afternoon. At this meeting we set up our schedules as to what we would be doing during our time here. The next day, Saturday became a very busy day. Our meeting with the men lasted all morning and we had some very lively discussions. After a long lunch break we met again at 2:30 PM, this meeting including Henok and Nigest. Again we had mostly a business meeting to discuss the logistics of helping the brethren in the distribution of the word in Ethiopia. In the evening there were not enough signed up for supper so Rita and I went down to the Raz Hotel to get something to eat. We made it back to the SIM guest house before dark and then we had a prayer meeting with the Asbills.
On Sunday each couple were taken to a different location to bring the word. The Asbills were taken by Jemal to his church; the Jantzis were taken by Tilahun. Brother Tilahun had obtained a driver to take us nearly an hour’s drive to the far southeast side of the city. Here we turned off of the paved road onto a bad road, very rough with many protruding small stones. From this road we found another side road that took us to a little “church” building. Tilahun had trouble finding the second side road because as he said, “I never come by car; I always walk here from the main road”.
So as we entered, the little flock was already praising the lord; one young single brother was at the front with a guitar. This ended soon after we entered and brother introduced us and also acted as our translator. I brought a word defining what the kingdom of God is. They seemed to understand and would have been hungry for more. We perceive that these are very poor people. Their church is called Africa Charismatic Christian Church and is made up of mostly children, youth and young adults. About 35 people were packed in on small benches in a space that I estimate to be 3 x 4 meters (10’ x 12”); our bedroom at SIM is about 4 x 4 meters. They speak of making more space by adding a roof to the front yard. Interestingly, this neighborhood had a number of homemade horse drawn rubber tired “chariots”. We also saw a number of donkeys carrying large packs on their backs, all appropriate for this type of road.
After this meeting the driver took us to the southwest side of the city. There were some very nice homes here and many more under construction. In contrast to the morning meeting, this afternoon’s meeting was held in the home of a physician who is the head of the city area’s Red Cross blood bank program; his wife is a civil engineer. People slowly began to gather here for the afternoon meeting. About 14 local brethren gathered here as they do about once a month or so. This is not a fellowship but a gathering of old friends who have mostly come out of the Orthodox Church and then gone into a variety of other mostly evangelical and charismatic churches, all known by Telahun. This group is made up of mostly well educated and professional people, including at least three pediatricians, a med school professor and a pastor. We first had a traditional Ethiopian meal with very spicy food. They encouraged us not to eat the raw meat. After this I started the word on being a partaker of the divine nature but ended up giving them all of the end time kingdom word I could pack into one hour. Afterward the pastor came over and said he wished he could spend more time with me.
About 5 o’clock we were returned to the SIM where we had supper with the Asbills. We shared our experiences of the day and then had prayer together. Might I say brethren that it appears that the strongest spirit here is a religious one. It is very ecumenical in nature and blinds the eyes of many hearers to the true gospel of the kingdom. I would also observe that there are three main economies here: business, government and religion. I also see three classes of people (at least here in the city): the desperately poor beggars, the poorly paid laborers and the well educated professional people who dress well. I don’t know where the “middle” class is; I suspect it is nearly nonexistent. We were told by one man that the people who live in the south of Ethiopia are the most desperately poor people that he has ever seen. He was one of the men in the project called “Living Water International” who go to these poor rural areas to drill wells and repair previously drilled wells. They tell us it is not uncommon for a woman to walk 5 miles a day with two 30 pound packs of water on her back every day. The life of the rural women is to haul water and the girls must start this at age 10; therefore no more school after that point.
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings we will be meetings in the SIM chapel in which we will be preaching and teaching the word. The Monday meeting drew over 35 people, some who had come last year. In the afternoon we had a meeting with a man named Rabbi Mekasha Kassa who currently lives in Addis Ababa. He shared a lengthy history of his life (he is married, two children, probably in his 30s). He is from the North of Ethiopia and was raised in a Jewish family. When quite young he was born again and became a Christian believer; his parents disowned him. He tried ministering to Muslims and had his leg slashed by a knife. He tried becoming a pastor, having gone to a school of theology and was ordained by the denomination. Still restless, he tried moving to Israel and became a certified Rabbi, having studied the torah. When he mentioned the name of Jesus in the synagogue he was literally carried and thrown out of the place. When he refused to renounce Jesus, the head rabbi grabbed his skull cap off his head and angrily threw it to the ground declaring, “You are not a rabbi”. So no longer being welcome in Israel he returned to his people in Ethiopia. He now has a messianic synagogue in Addis Ababa of about 100 people. He still has close contact with the Jewish people of the north, where he says that there are about 3000 of them who want to emigrate to Israel within the next 4 years. He would like the opportunity to tell them about Yeshua the messiah before they leave Ethiopia. He would like some outside support for this. He said he has been to America, specifically New York City and the Orthodox Jews reject him because he will not renounce Yeshua.
In addition to the older man Tilahun and the younger man Jemal whom we have been working with since our last visit, we have also been working with Fikre, Ruth’s brother. There is another young man (age 35), Tilahun Tesfaye who came along with Jemal the first day that we got together this trip. This man speaks very good English, has a good spirit and has become very interested in the word we are bringing. Having been in England for a season of time he makes a good interpreter and has been with us since the first day.
The Tuesday meeting drew a larger crowd than yesterday. Burt and I both bring the word in these meetings. Rita usually opens the meeting with a song. The afternoon was free so we were able to accomplish some personal business in the city.