Advancing the Conversation of Jesus
Diana went with Mulu to Ethiopia in 2014, while Tamrat and I were speaking at a weekend retreat and a week of chapels at Africa Nazarene University. So, this was my first time in Ethiopia.
This is our first selfie in Ethiopia, taken by Tigist just before we ate dinner together in the home where they are staying.
Besides seeing a few sites Tamrat wanted us to see, visiting LIFE CENTER for orphans and widows, Tamrat had a couple of groups of small group leaders he wanted me to meet and speak with him about small group discipleship. This was the first group. His wife, Mulu is on his left in this picture and Konjit is on his right, next to Diana and me. Konjit may be one of the most dedicated young women we know who has left her profession to give herself to make disciples of street kids, the poor, even to serve the lepers. She lives among these young people and has had proven effectiveness in discipline and mentoring young kids, introducing them to Jesus, helping them with their education, and even launching them into their desired profession. It is remarkable!
At this particular gathering of young people, Konjit had let the word out to only 3 and over 20 showed up to spend a few hours with us to discuss small group discipleship. These kids are either in or pursuing a wide variety of careers and love Jesus and small groups. We learned so much during this first meeting. Very encouraging!
Tamrat & Mulu brought their daughter, Tigist, going into her 2nd year at Point Loma Nazarene University, to see Ethiopia for the first time, since she, her brother and mom fled the country for their lives when she was only a few months old. We had a great time getting to know Tigist better and she was thrilled with the experience of seeing her country and meeting many of her relatives for the first time.
One day we took a road trip into the mountains almost 2 hours outside of Addis. We went to visit the Blue Nile Gorge, located in the beautiful Jama Valley. Naturally, we saw all kinds of sites along the road…and on the road. It’s the rainy season, so the hillsides are as green as can be. They were even plowing in the mud.
#4 PHOTO…#5 PHOTO…#6 PHOTO
Tamrat and I climbed down a wet, rocky trail to get a better look at the waterfalls and the gorge. It was a beautiful site! Over the ridge in a distance was a mountain where Tamrat and his army waged their last and most fierce battle against the oppressive regime that they overthrew.
The kids who were with us claimed on down to the Portuguese Bridge. This was a man-made bride built by the Portuguese to assist the missionaries in the 1500’s.
On our way back to Addis we stopped for lunch at a restaurant and enjoyed an Ethiopian lunch, eating with our hands.
One night we went out for dinner at an Ethiopian dance club, Yod. It was a show of a variety of Ethiopian cultural dances from the 80+ tribes. The food was great and a little scary, when we were invited up to join in the dances.
Without a doubt, one of the highlights of our visit was the day we went to see the orphans and widows at LIFE CENTER. What a sweet experience to meet and greet them. Each orphan was eager to shake your hand and talk with you as much as they could. We served them a sandwich and a drink. They are so grateful and seem so happy! LIFE CENTER is the long time passion of Mulu to help the poor in Ethiopia. She is so loved and respected by everyone involved.
A young woman named Yodith directs the LIFE CENTER. She is a God-send for sure! It is not a job for her; it’s her passion and life-mission. I was most impressed with her special relationship she enjoys with the kids and the women. They absolutely love her and her love for them is evident!
LIFE CENTER gave a special honor and gift to Diana for her enthusiastic support, especially for the raising of over $20,000 for a much needed vehicle! She was so honored and humbled by this loving move.
It was great day of serving and interacting with the orphans, widows, the staff and the volunteers.
Two more significant meetings happened while we were in Ethiopia. The first was a meeting of about 50 professionals who are all committed to and doing small groups. Tamrat and I shared with them our emphasis upon making sure these groups revolve around Jesus. We did a lot of discussion with them about the dynamics of group discipleship. They were most encouraged and encouraging to us. They will be using THE WAY Jesus curriculum, as will the young small group leaders we met at the beginning of the week. We considering having THE WAY translated in the primary Ethiopian language, Amharic. I believe we have the best translator in the country who also loves Jesus and practices small group discipleship.
The second significant meeting was our last day in Ethiopia. Tamrat, Mulu, and Yodith made a presentation on LIFE CENTER. The most exciting thing about this Church is that they have a young pastor who leads a dynamic assembly of over 1000 young professionals. We believe they are going to use THE WAY within the Church small groups AND we are praying that this pastor will form a small group of like-minded pastors in Addis. This Jesus movement kind of thinking is desperately needed and can prove to be strategic in the transformation of Ethiopia.