Rita, myself and George Herrig are leaving the US on Monday, May 21 and together we arrive on Tuesday evening in Addis Ababa. Here we are met at the airport by Brothers Burt, Jemal and Fikre and then transported to the rented house nearby where Burt and Nancy have been living for several weeks. Having to do our own meals, washing, cleaning and shopping in the small local shops for everything needed, is certainly different than staying in the SIM guest house or at a local hotel. We also have to adjust our lives around the unreliability of electric power and running water; all drinking water must be purchased in the nearby local shops. We are finding the daytime temperatures to be in the mid 80s, dry and usually with a nice breeze; thankfully nights being quite cooler. We are also at a good high altitude; when the KLM flight landed here at the airport, the altimeter read 7,569 feet above sea level; this being high enough that there is no concern about malarial mosquitoes, although the small African black flies can be quite pesky and elusive of our various ways to catch and/or prevent them from coming in to bother us. The Asbills have been here, laying the groundwork for what for them will be a two month stay, setting up meetings at local churches and making connections with the help of the faithful local brethren, Jemal and Fikre.
Meetings begin the day following our arrival. The first meeting is in the living room and a handful of men that have been invited come. At this informal meeting it seems that all of the team has had something of the word to share with them. We are also privileged to have Jemal’s wife Asegedech and small daughter Abigail in attendance at the meeting. On Thursday evening we are driven nearly an hour’s drive in a hired van into the core of the city to a small church named Penuel. Here Brother Burt shared the word (with Jemal interpreting into Amharic) to a group of about 40 believers packed into a room of about 10’ x 25’. We left in the dark and were driven back to our house for the night. The next night we were again taken to a small church (Gerge) not so far away, where I am asked to bring the word to a small group that meet in a small sheet metal building located up a long rocky street only meant for walking. Saturday is a day of rest but Sunday evening we are returning to the Penuel fellowship for a second meeting. George spoke at the meeting, after which a young man came up and prophesied a blessing over the five of us from the US.
Since we left home on a Monday I will count today as the start of a new week. It is Memorial Day in the States and here in Ethiopia it is also a holiday, something celebrating the end of communism in the land here. However we found that the internet café is open as usual and also all of the small shops as well. We found a rather genuine Chinese restaurant near where we shop so we had lunch out of the house. We bought more drinking water on the walk back home. In the evening Fikre came and took us on a walking tour of the back side of the neighborhood. We met several church men who knew him and are asking for a meeting with us sometime in the near future. The next day (Tuesday) we walked over to Fikre’s house where the women made a traditional Ethiopian lunch for us, including homemade coffee (roasted and ground right in the house). In the afternoon our sisters had to take a hired car into the city to do some serious grocery shopping and to stock up for the coming conference. Meanwhile Fikre accompanied George to the bank to transact some necessary exchange business.
Thursday the 31st begins three days of conference. The meetings are held in the Megenagna area of the city, about 10 minutes drive from where we are staying. At the small compound of Kalehiwot (translation “Word of Life”) fellowship, the actual meeting is held in a “tent” that is covered by a very wind tattered blue tarp and its floor is of dirt/gravel. There is forecast a 55-60% probability of showers and we are praying that the rains hold off until the meetings are finished. There will be three (sometimes four) meetings each day with a break between each one. Burt and I were the first day’s speakers and it seemed to generate some genuine interest, more so than I have ever seen here in Ethiopia. There are a good number of pastors among the 40+ Ethiopians attendance and the subject of kingdom order of ministry came up and was well discussed.
One of the men we met was about a 45 year old man who shared his testimony with the group. He had been imprisoned 14 times during the communist years (ending about 20 years ago) for preaching the gospel and distributing Bibles, once for a period of five years. He said they stripped him and beat him many times to try to make him say he would stop preaching. Five times they threatened to kill him; but God spared his life unto this day. Jemal and Abebe were the translators for the entire conference.
The next two meetings drew an even larger crowd of about 50+ Ethiopians. Burt and George, who were the speakers the second day, gave an extensive teaching on coming to perfection as shown in the tabernacle. The last day of the conference I spoke on God’s order for ministry and Barak (who had arrived late last night), finished with a teaching from the tabernacle, confirming the word that we had been teaching. After we were back at “home” and settled for the night, it began to rain.
On Sunday morning (it was not raining), Rita and I are taken by Jemal via taxi to The Galilee Fellowship. They meet in a small tent structure/awning attached to the pastor’s home. The floor is a dried grass/hay covering over the natural ground. There are about 50 believers with children who gather here this morning. This location happens to be on a very rough street that the taxi does not want to drive very far on. So we walk part of the way. I bring a word on the kingdom in man’s soul. After the message Rita shares a song. Then Jemal says that we need to pray against a spirit of sorcery. In a few minutes a 12 year old girl suddenly falls from her chair to the ground, writhing, squirming and making strange noises. We spent a good deal of time ministering deliverance to her in the blood of Jesus.
As we leave the place and begin our walk back to the main highway, Jemal has been having a hard time walking due to a nasty infection on his leg. We are only a short way up the road when a man driving a small red car backs out of his driveway right next to us. He opens the doors and invites all four of us to get in the car, and then he drives us about a mile up to the main highway where we can find a taxi. Another brother with us negotiates a ride for us back to the “house.” It is now raining heavily and we are glad to be in the cars. All goes well for this ride until the driver turns onto our street. Then he stops the car and says he can go no further because it is raining, so we all get out and walk, one of us on each side of Jemal to help him walk. The driver was trying to extract extra money from us. We wondered if we had encountered an angel in a red car and a devil in a blue car!
On Monday we are given a quick tour of the Selam Children’s Village orphanage. This is a most unusual organization, in that between the school and orphanage they have 3,000 children, not being supported by any church; self sustaining. They raise their own crops, have their own cattle, have an academic school k-12, and also a vocational school. We see many workers who may be young people in training. They have at least 160 acres of land, most unusual for being in the city. We only had time to participate in their noonday meal and did not see nearly all, so we must visit again another day. Tuesday is the day for several brethren to visit the printer and make the final plans to begin printing The Pattern in Amharic. It has been a good and fruitful visit. We have been kept quite busy and we see that there is much more to be done. It seems that the work in Ethiopia is finally beginning to take form. A few faithful men have been found and more are being added to the number. We are optimistic that the message is beginning to take root in the minds and souls of a few. The prayers and sacrifice of each one that has held us before the Lord has been a sweet savor before the Lord’s throne. God’s blessing we send to each one who reads this. Keep the Asbills in prayer as they will be here for yet a season.
Mark & Rita Jantzi
P.S. The audio files of the messages from the conference will soon be available at https://endtimekingdomny.org/audio-messages/audio-messages-2011/.