Tuesday, December 19

More Christmas Pics of Ellie

Just click on this one.

Wednesday, December 13

Don't you go anywhere...

I will be right back! August 24, 2007 (God willing)

Two Weeks...

...Until we depart for Addis Ababa Ethiopia.
Please pray for us during these last two weeks.
Merry Christmas to each of you from all of us.

Sunday, November 19

Mentioned Hymn...

Hail, sovereign love that first began,
The scheme to rescue fallen man;
Hail matchless free eternal grace,
That gave my soul a hiding place.

Against the God who rules the sky,
I fought with hand uplifted high,
Despised the mention of His grace,
Too proud to seek a hiding place.

Enwrapped in thick Egyptian night,
And fond of darkness more than light,
Madly I ran the sinful race,
Secure without a hiding place.

But thus th’ eternal counsel ran,
“Almighty Love, arrest that man!”
I felt the arrows of distress,
And found I had no hiding place.

Indignant justice stood in view,
To Sinai’s fiery mount I flew,
But Justice cried with frowning face,
“This mountain is no hiding place!”

Ere long a heavenly voice I heard,
And Mercy’s angel form appeared.
Who led me on with gentle pace,
To Jesus Christ, my hiding place.

On Him Almighty vengeance fell,
That must have sunk a world to hell;
He bore it for a chosen race,
And thus became their hiding place.

Should storms of sevenfold vengeance roll,
And shake this earth from pole to pole;
No flaming bolt could daunt my face,
For Jesus is my hiding place.

A few more rolling suns at most,
Shall land me safe on Heaven’s coast.
There I shall sing the song of grace,
To Jesus Christ, my hiding place!

Jehoi­da Brew­er (1752-1817)

Sunday, November 12

Please Listen to...


Monday, November 6

Update from Ethiopia...in 1 Picture

For those of you who may wonder about Kalkidan and how she is doing now...
this is a recent shot with her mom, Imabeat, and dad, Gashaway.
Thanks for praying for them, please continue to do so.

Pics for proof of fun (by Ellie at least)

Anna Laverty in LaGrange, KY

Julia Strassner in Cincinnati, OH

Julia again.

Will, Josh, Sarah, & Hannah Duley from
LaGrange, KY. Picture at Huber's farm
Starlight, IN.

Sunday, November 5

Back at last...

Well, sorry for the long delay. We have been traveling and spending time with friends in the Louisville and Cincinatti area. It was a real blessing to fellowship with Grace Immanuel in LaGrange, KY and Pleasant Ridge Baptist in Cincinatti, OH.

We finally have definite plans for returning to Ethiopia. This stay in the US began as a 6-8 week stint and will be 8 months upon our return December 27th. I have been released from physical therapy and the knee seems very well. I am not released from my surgeon's care yet but expect to be in the next 2 months.

Please pray for us...pray that our final days here will be used for our good and Christ's glory.

When we return, we have the incredible priveledge of friends traveling back with us.
Lauren and Steven Chipman will be in Kenya for Lauren's med-school rotations in the spring, so they plan to travel back with us and stay for a week along with Justin Tucker, our friend in Millington, TN. Pray that this time for the three of them will help them know how to better pray and serve us in the work that God has called us to in Ethiopia.

Please pray also for our return...pray that God will give much grace for relying on Him alone no matter the situation. To understand the situation in Ethiopia right now I have included some recent news articles for you to peruse.

one, two, three, four, five

Tuesday, September 12

Additional Status Info

In addition to being directly sent out and under the authority of Christ Community Church, we have voluntarily submitted ourselves under the board of directors of a like minded couple who minister in Smolensk, Russia. Kinney and Elise Mitchell have been serving the Lord vocationally in ministry for dozens of years. They have ministered here in the US as well as in at least two different countries abroad. The board includes Chuck Baggett, an elder at CCC, Phillip Morris, member of CCC, and Scott Duley, pastor of Grace Immanuel Church in LaGrange Kentucky, as representatives for our specific situations and circumstances.

By coming under this umbrella of guidance, we receive not only the obvious and already mentioned benefits, but also the experience of the Mitchell’s who have ministered the gospel in other cultures for close to two decades. There are other practical implications for us as well, like being eligible for medical insurance which we have not had for a couple of years now.

I realize that the entire situation that we find ourselves in is not completely clear and easily understood by all, but I do welcome questions, because in asking you will help me be able to understand and articulate the status of our current circumstances.

Monday, September 11

Status Change

As a result of an increasing conviction that missions, either local or international, is an aspect of ministry that ought to be carried out by the local church, we have restructured the facilitating facet of our work in Ethiopia. Because we have the great privilege of being part of a church that has the same conviction regarding the church’s responsibility, we are now more closely united with our church, Christ Community Church, New Albany, MS. We have been commissioned and sent out by the church and now as a result of this status shift all of our support will be facilitated by the church.
The church is not functioning as an agency in that they are not giving us a complete salary package as a missions agency may provide. However the church is willing to receive appropriated funds on our behalf and funnel them in their entirety to us. This financial aspect is wonderful for us but really pales in comparison with the delight we have of being under the direct leadership and authority of our church elders. To have our church, people that we love and that have clearly expressed their love for us, praying for us, coming along side us, and pastoring our souls is infinitely more significant than the financial structure of the missionary work.
We realize that it is absolutely unfathomable for all missionaries to be able to be structured is this same way. In fact, if only missionaries sent out of their local church were able to serve then there would be very little work being done. The church in our culture has neglected this view of mission work and therefore agencies have picked up the slack in an attempt to carry out the Great Commission. It is a great blessing that these agencies have assumed the responsibility of the church and continued with taking the gospel to the nations.
Oh, how we thank God for the opportunity to work with agencies like IOI, and we look forward to continued ministry alongside of these God provided ministries that are seeking to honor His Son with all the honor and glory that He is so worthy of.

Tuesday, August 8

Quarterly Catch-up

No, we really don’t have quarterly newsletters. Nor do we have monthly newsletters. We can accurately say that we have newsletters, I suppose, since from time to time we send some sort of an update about what is going on in our lives. Our goal is to at least monthly inform you so that you can know how to pray for us specifically. We will try to provide the updates on a regular basis in the future, hopefully the near rather than the distant future.

Some of you only have contact with us via this medium, so I will try to be a little complete for your benefit. Others have seen us weekly or so, so it may seem a drag for you all.

The first week of March Amber experienced terrible pain, which was uncontrollable with the strongest pain meds available to us. (Tylenol) After visiting 4 hospitals and talking with a group of American docs we felt it best to get Amber out of the country and to the US as soon as we could. Many of you got a short, abrupt email concerning her immediate departure. Ellie and Megan, who is serving in Addis with us, left with her. Luggage, a stroller, a car seat, and a child is almost an impossible task, especially when dealing with the miserable pain that had plagued her for almost a week at the time of departure. The diagnosis in Ethiopia by all of the available medical personnel was multiple kidney stones in both kidneys, with one stone having released already which was the cause of the pain. The US Dr.’s concern was that stone from each kidney might release and thus result in Amber losing both kidneys within a short time. So we sent her home and I waited behind in Addis for 5 weeks before following her home. It was during this time that I had the opportunity to visit with Gashaway (see Role Reversal post) and his church and family. Amber arrived home in the US 4 days before the death of her best friend’s dad. These are some of the little mercies that God has allowed us to see in the situation so far. Though He owes us none, God has been very gracious over and over again to us, allowing us to see a bit of His workings in the circumstances of our lives.

Upon Amber’s arrival in the US, she saw a urologist that insisted that she didn’t have any kidney stones and he was unsure if she had had any at all. So we really don’t know what the physical issue was, but we can rest in God and his sovereign control in our lives. Two weeks after I arrived in America, I re-injured my knee that was in bad condition from a previous injury. After an MRI, it was determined that to avoid long-term irreversible damage to my knee, I was facing reconstruction of the ACL. With this surgery comes 6 months of recovery time and rehab. As of now, I am 7 weeks post surgery, and my knee seems to be doing well and is on schedule for a full recovery. Due to being in the US for this extended unanticipated time, we were able to be in Cincinnati with Gashaway and Kalkidan for her surgery. (for information about this and pictures, visit www.theadweb.com/child) Not only this but Gashaway and Kalkidan were able to visit with us in Memphis, attend church with us in New Albany, and meet those who have supported their ministry for 7 years financially.

We were able to share in most of the churches that we have contact with in the first two months back, and more opportunities have presented themselves due to our being here for an extended length of time. Also, during our time here I am preaching a number of times over a four-month period at the church in New Albany while John, our pastor, takes a writing sabbatical.

We are very appreciative of you all who pray for us and desire to make you aware more regularly of the occurrences in our lives.

Friday, August 4

Role Reversal

In March while Amber and Ellie were here in the US, I wrote this for her to tell about my time with Gashaway, who with his daughter Kalkidan will be staying with our family here in the US for the next two weeks. The following is the journal I wrote for Amber the morning after I returned from 4 days with Gashaway.
On Thursday morning Yosi and I got up at 4:30 a.m. to leave and pick up Gashaway at Tatek's house. We ended up actually leaving the bus station at seven, and traveled about seven and a half hours to the central town in that area called Alem Ketema. From there, there is transportation by small buses and Land Rover like vehicles to the surrounding villages. We had planned to arrive in AK and then head immediately for Meranya, which is Gashaway's village, however though it was only a bit after lunch there was no transportation available for the rest of the day. Well there were vehicles but no drivers. So we visited with some of Gashaway's friends in that village and spent a lot of the time with one friend who has a barbershop. It was a long after noon in many ways but we enjoyable at the same time. Because of getting up early and the travel, mixed with not knowing anyone or having English conversation that late afternoon and night were somewhat lonely. We ate shiro (what everyone eats) for supper at a local hospital that was established by the Germans many years ago. I went to sleep about 9 b/c I was extremely tired, I was worried about waking up all night long with that lonely miserable feeling, but God was gracious and I didn't even budge until 6 the next morning. Wow when I woke up, I felt so much better, you understand how mornings are better that evenings. We left immediately for Meranya and I was excited to get there and for Gashaway to see his family and church. It was a 2 hour ride but wasn't at all bad, the view out there is immaculate constantly. The mountains and valleys and rivers seem much bigger than life and every corner brings a new amazement of God in regard to His creation. When we arrived mid morning, Imabeat was in school until lunch so we visited at one of the church leaders homes. We had eggs with enjera and tea for our b-fast and then were still there around 12:30 so we had shiro with them. They are a wonderful family, and were incredibly kind to me, it was so comfortable to be there with them to chat with them and eat with them.
We left from there after eating and went to Gashaway's house. Imabeat was instantly that very typical Ethiopian shy, she greeted me and then was off to fetch this, to get that, or if she was there was sitting in the other room of the house like the women in the culture do many times. I carried coffee, tea, sugar, an umbrella, and ibuprofen to give to Imabeat, and she was very grateful for all of it. Also I gave her transportation money for when Gashaway and Kalkidan go to the states, so that she can get to Addis and see them for 3 or 4 days before they go. Some of Gashaway's friends were constantly coming by to see him and we ate kolo and drank tea for the majority of the afternoon. I was sitting in a place where I could see out the door of the house and some of the down time I was contemplating in my mind the sovereignty of God in how people live day by day there with very little medical problems, but when medical problems do come how little they can actually do about it being so far from any real medical care. And thinking about that specifically in light of Kalkidan. How so far Kalkidan has been spared even through 5 surgeries that all went bad and none of which were helpful to her, and how for 3 and a half years she has been dependent on her parents for life b/c without them removing her stool she wouldn't live. And all of this in a place so poor and with such inadequate facilities. We went and visited the church and about 4 or 5 families from the church later in the early evening. That was good. It was pleasant, not like the great white hope was encouraging the world with his presence, but just good fellowship. We had tea here and coffee there, at one house we had sugar cane. Everything was great. The sugar cane is difficult to eat, they use only their teeth to peel it and eat it. In Bolivia they use machetes to peel and eat it so that was different for me, but went fine. After that we returned to Gashaway's and he and one of the guys went to one of the church leader's house without me and returned with one of those fold up beds like our guards sleep on. I don't know what he slept on that night, but it was incredibly kind of him to offer his bed for me. He is the primary one doing the ministry while Gashaway is away, and really seems to love the Lord and His work. After dark when all work was over for the day, people from the church started pouring in, in all there were 17 or 18 of us in one little room talking and eating kolo and drinking tea until about 8:30 or 9. It was a good time and everyone kept saying how happy they were that I came all the way there to see them. Before they left, Gashaway shared from James 1:19ff, and then prayed. When they all left Gashaway walked them out and when he returned he was ecstatic about how happy all of them were concerning my coming. The whole time he was like a little boy on Xmas morning, filled with excitement and full of anticipation. He was a remarkable joy to be with the entire time. We ate dinner after all of the guests left, and then just sat and talked and had tea together. Just a little bit later, Imabeat brought in a pitcher of warm water with a small tub and soap and proceeded to wash my feet. She washed while Gashaway poured the water. Needless to say it was very humbling. But at the same time, it was remarkably amazing to see the constant serving that they exhibited. I could hardly hold back the tears as I watched and experienced their kindness. When they finished I told Gashaway that it was the first time ever for me to have my feet washed and he was so happy for it to have happened at his house. He said "it is our culture when guests come", and Imabeat chimed in and said "yes but we get that part of the culture from the Bible." She then sat and had a cup of tea with us and when she finished immediately got up refilled the tub with water and took my socks and began washing them. I said no problem, I have more in my bag. But she and Gashaway both insisted, so she washed them and hung them in the house and by morning they were dry. It seems everything was this way while visiting there. They went way out of the way and over and beyond, about even little things. But it made the trip very special. So about 10pm I went to bed and could hardly fall asleep b/c I was so glad to be there. I kept thinking what a blessing it was to know them and to be there with them and how much there is to learn from these people that the rest of the world doesn't even know exist or care to know. It seemed like every 30 minutes I was awake in the night, and I thought, wow, if that night in the hotel had been like this I would have been miserable b/c of being so tired and feeling alone, but not this night, it was like every time I awoke it was with a smile on my face, as if Santa was coming in the morning. Needless to say I was so glad to be there. God used them to comfort me and to rescue me from the unhealthy loneliness that had gotten me down the day before, them as well as His scriptures concerning His own humiliation of becoming a man. To most, it seems humbling on my part to go all the way out there. The food, the culture, the transportation, many 'problems' have to be overcome. But in light of Christ, and His humiliation, there is no comparison. I was given a place to lay my head, someone offered water to wash my feet, I was given there best to eat. People were coming to see me not because I could do signs and wonders but because of a genuine love. So different that what Christ suffered on our behalf as a man. These kinds of things went through my mind every time I woke up in the night. I tossed and turned the whole night, yet when I awoke in the morning I felt like I had slept for 3 days. Completely refreshed, spiritually and physically. Imabaet prepared tea and b-fast for us and two of the people from the night before came early that morning to tell Gashaway and I goodbye. One was the family that we had visited the morning before. They brought a large flower vase made of pottery for me. The other was the church leader who had given up his bed the night before. He came with a sealed envelope with my name on it. I put it in my bag and opened it later that night in the hotel room when we were back in AK. It was a letter mostly in Amharic so I didn't know all of what it said until I got back here and had Yosi read it for me. It was filled with constant thanks and praise to God for my coming and seeing them. They wanted me to know how much it meant to them, and wanted to show me, but didn't know anyway to do it, so they gave me the money to cover the transportation of Gashaway and I to and from Addis. Absolutely amazing…even when Yosi was reading it, he was stunned to see that. It is a lot of money in the city, but on the country side that is about 2 months salary for most of the people there. I wish there was a way to reject it but you know that is impossible here, after all they are not giving it to me, but to Christ. So we got to AK about mid morning and had the rest of Saturday to spend there, b/c buses to Addis only leave early in the morning. So we had to wait until Sunday to return. We expected Getu to come to AK that day but we couldn't find him there, so we jumped a bus to his village about 30 minutes away. We found him there and spent the afternoon visiting with believers in his village from his church. We ate lunch twice and had coffee and tea a few times. Again it was so enjoyable to be there. It was fun to be with Gashaway and Getu together. The last house we visited was a crippled guy that knew Fikre from some years before when Fikre was in the area working with the IMB and water projects. We left from there to try and get a bus back to AK. We walked 2 km to get the bus at a place where there wouldn't be many people b/c transportation was slim and many people were trying to get it. Once the bus us full it is impossible to get back for the night. So when the bus got there. That crippled guy hopped off, he had gotten on when it came by his house to save a place for us and not only any place but the front seat which was the only one with close to enough room for my knees to fit at all. From that place he had a 30-45 minute walk back to his house. He had one leg that was completely immobile and used a long stick basically like one of his legs and hobbled along like that. These kinds of things were constantly happening. The bus was leaving at 6 the next morning for Addis. Gashaway got up at 3:30 to go and reserve my seat, I got up at 5, looking for him and that is when I realized what he had done, so I walked to the bus station and he was there in front of the line for me. They put me in that front seat and then he went back to get his things for the trip home. That was the beginning of our 15 hour bus ride. Through mud, mud, and more mud. If there was a truck in front of us that was stuck, Gashaway would get out and help them move, he knew that if they couldn't move we couldn't move. He was primarily concerned with me getting home, it was evident. Then when that truck was out of the way the people from our bus began getting us out of the mud. Also on the way the radiator overheated twice, the starter broke, we were sideswiped by a truck that broke a lot of glass on the bus, and the fuel pump went out. We did eventually get to one small village that also runs buses to and from Addis and there happened to be a bus there, so we changed buses for the remainder of the trip. Even after that we had problems with the mud, but eventually we made it back home at an average rate of 7 miles per hour. Fast huh. And now it is the next morning and I am rested somewhat and very grateful to God for allowing to have this time with Gashaway.