Thursday, December 27

Praise for Prayer Answered.

I just posted the prayer update two days ago and if you remember, the one item that I removed from the previous list was for the financial provision of finalizing the adoption of Isaac. Well, today we received word that the monies have been provided. A little here, some more there, and other quite substantial gifts as well, all sufficiently met the need. Just two months ago, from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, I wrote:

Concerning the particulars with the adoption, all of the necessary
information has been exchanged and the baby has been given to us. Upon my
arrival we will have the freedom to schedule a time to meet him, the family
caring for him since birth, and then to take him home with us. The only
other stipulation on our part is the financial one.

God has already begun to provide for this, and we feel certain that in His
mandate to care for orphans He can also supply what is needed to fulfill
this often neglected command from on High. After all, is not the whole of
the Christian life this way? What can we really do within ourselves that
God commands us to do? Absolutely nothing! St. Augustine summed up this idea
wonderfully when he said concerning the Lord and His commands, (and I
paraphrase) "Command whatever You want God...and grant us whatever you
command". Does not scripture back up this quote? We are commanded to repent
and believe the gospel, yet we are completely incapable. Yet God gives us
faith to believe and grants us the gift of repentance toward Him in the
gospel. So, will he not also provide in this very concrete area of gospel
life and ministry?
Now we invite you to rejoice with us as we are living experientially in the reality of answered prayers and the provision of God.

Concerning those of you who prayed and/or gave:
God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints. Hebrews 6:10

Our mere words are so lousily inadequate to express the gratitude we feel inside. Please know that we appreciate so much your kindness and love expressed to us and our work.

Tuesday, December 25

Prayer Update - Christmas Night

* PTI - 4...the preparation, travel, & provision.

* January 13th - Preaching at the International Evangelical Church in Ethiopia.

* Amber, Ellie, & Isaac during my 2 weeks away for PTI.

Monday, December 24

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 20

God is Love - part Two

If we, with the help of GOD, can fix our thoughts on the reality God, specifically Him being/defining Love, then our hearts and affections will follow with rapidity to express love to HIM and for HIM. The Apostle John, who no only knew of this love, but made his dwelling in it, is a superb example for us. John writes, “LOVE IS FROM GOD…FOR GOD IS LOVE”, and again “GOD IS LOVE…we love because He first loved us”.
Most minds who ever ponder the veracity of GOD himself, assume also that GOD is love. But, what does it mean that GOD IS LOVE, and in what sense is He Love? It may mean that He is loving, that He loves, or that He is benevolent. It does, in fact include all these, but this is not the Apostle’s full understanding when he exclaims, “GOD, HIMSELF IS LOVE”. In actuality, we cannot know intellectuality the depth of what John is declaring, because John is speaking from experience. Sure, he knows the truth that GOD is indeed all love, but the Apostle writes from an overflowing heart that has found all sufficiency in the abode of GOD’S Love.
The very nature of being God suggests that He is Love. Though He is not defined sufficiently by ‘love’, He defines LOVE perfectly. We know this LOVE because of its expression toward us. We wander in the shallows of Him being loving, or showing benevolence on our behalf, rather than making our abode in the unfathomable depths of Him who is all LOVE for us. As mere mortals, the hand of our Lover, not realizing that His benevolent hand extends forth from a boundless heart, easily distracts us.
The Apostle was keenly aware of this grave danger, and thus offers immense help in our grasping some degree of LOVE’S depth. GOD put HIS LOVE on display for us by dwelling among us in flesh (John 1:14). And not only this but 1 John 4:10 completes this portrait of Love by including His propitiatory purpose. It is a magnificent reality that ‘GOD IS LOVE’ in such a way that He did not remain far off, but chose to incarnate among us and demonstrate (Romans 5:8) for all time His amazing Love.
In an attempt to delve deeper into this divine display, let’s get up out of our pitiful makeshift shanties of personal circumstance and find our abode in the LOVE OF GOD (John 15:9-10). There is no solution to the marvelous mysteries of His incarnation and sacrificial death but this: GOD IS LOVE. LOVE precedes all, explains all, and illustrates all.

Wednesday, December 12

This Year. Our Life.

Holiday Greetings to you all,

The end of a calendar year provides an opportune time to think back, reflect, and consider the last twelve months of our lives. As we go about doing just that, we will grant you all an open window into what the Lord has done.

We offer this for you because you are a vital part of our life and work, and it seems evident to us that we have done a poor job spelling out the specifics of the details that make up the last year. This letter will serve as an apology in two senses: to express our regret in not being explicit where that has in fact been the case and to explicate with more precision the specifics that are entailed.

Plans & Prayers
December 2006 – July 2007

Our focus within the work remained pointed and strong upon our return in late December last year. Even within the first week, I had preliminary meeting that eventually led to the Pastor’s Training Institute. We aggressively pursued this opportunity and anxiously anticipated the beginning of the Institute, which was eventually inaugurated in April.
To see with deeper insight some of the elements that made up those early days I will copy a page from Amber’s journal.

“The meeting yesterday with the Addis Kidan leaders far exceeded our expectations. In the meeting, Anthony just opened up and said, "This is our hope....this is our goal and our train men that will be sent to the un-reached peoples of this country." Immediately after he said that, Ermais pulled up a document on his computer that outlined a detailed plan for reaching the un-reached peoples in 8 of the 9 regions of Ethiopia. The plan includes sending men out by twos to plant churches in these areas. The reason they have not pushed forward with this plan is because they lack the finances to support these ministers and they lack the men to do the training. Ermais said that they have money pouring in for humanitarian efforts and development work, but few are willing to give money for this purpose...for the spread of the gospel to the un-reached. Ermais has given the responsibility of the training to Anthony. He said that he could do it in whatever way he chooses.”
“We are overjoyed at this, yet so overwhelmed at the same time…
Then we read the Daily Light this morning..."Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might."-"Falsehood and not truth has grown strong in the land."-"Fight the Lord's battles."-"Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the Lord. Work...Fear not."-"Lift up your eyes and see that the fields are white for harvest."-"Yet a little while, and the coming one will come, and will not delay."
“What can we say to these things? I have not completely taken it all in. It seems that all the planning has been done and that God has sent us here to make connections and to pray and help. I was ashamed this morning as I thought about all this and how it is really more than I ever expected and sooner than I ever expected. I want to think that this was more of doubting self and not God, but I don't know. I imagined Anthony training a few ministers in the city and maybe seeing some reform in a few of them. That was my hope. This is far more than I could have ever dreamed up. It seems so serious and weighty to me. Now I am only asking that God will make this goal the burning passion in my heart and all would be poured out in prayers to Him…That I would love His glory and long for the spread of His kingdom across this land…That my desire for these things would be in no way connected to self, but that I would long for this no matter who God was using. This is just like the Lord, isn't it? To exceed our expectations in every way. I do not doubt that this work will bring trials and difficulties, but is our God not sufficient for these things as well? Lately I have found myself holding back from boasting in Him, for fear that He will not do what I have hoped. I want these fears to be taken away that I may boast confidently in my Lord and fully believe that He will be all that we need in every situation.”
Following these initial meetings, PTI did begin and has continued since then, meeting in April, June, and October of this past year. I will leave in about three weeks to conduct the fourth round with a focus on the ministry and work of Jesus Christ. About 65 men are involved in this systematic study of the Bible that should lay a sufficient foundation for them to pastor and plant churches that please the Lord.

Running along side these plans were amazing developments within our family as well. Having previously resigned to the apparent fact that adopting from within Ethiopia was impossible for American citizens, we did not expect that door to open. But God did open it up to us, with more than one agency notifying us of the possibility of adding to our family by adoption even while we lived in Addis. We took the Lord’s leading and began the process with positive encouragements coming from our church and families. Our prayer has constantly been that God would grow our family. We expected that He would in fact do that, after all He had given us Ellie already. Our presumption was that we would adopt from Ethiopia again, after all it is where we were living and how would anything else be feasible.

We completed our Home Study and began the process in late January. From there we were faced with one hurdle after another and could not seem to make any significant headway in the process. Wrong information here, ridiculous expectations there, we simply were unable to move forward in the slightest way for nine months. Disappointed and assuming that all previous work toward another child was lost, we found ourselves back in the United States to renew our visas and to hurriedly return to the work that we had left mid-July.

So with our trip home we hoped to accomplish the retrieval of two-year visas that would allow us to stay in the country for a lengthy period that has thus far been divinely prevented. We were facing minor medical issues that ultimately hindered our October return, so we tentatively planned on early December being the date of our return to Ethiopia. The reason for an October return was so that PTI did not have to miss a beat from the original itinerary. Due to our postponing the return I went to Ethiopia in October to teach round three of PTI on the Doctrines of Sin and Humanity. Two weeks before I departed, we experienced another interruption. (discussed at length below)
We had no reason to suspect that we would not be able to get back to Ethiopia as planned. We assumed that there would be no major kinks in the process of getting visas renewed and making travel plans. However, God chose this occasion to answer prayers.

Plans changed through answered Prayers
August 2007 – December 2007

In September, we received a phone call and e-mail from a friend. ‘There is a need of a family for a baby boy…are you interested?’ was the message we received. ‘Are we interested?’ Interested in God answering so many people’s prayers for so many years? Of course! Who wouldn’t be? Right? We were ecstatic initially, just to consider how God had orchestrated all things for His good pleasure and for our good by increasing of our faith through seeing Him answer another prayer. Our Home Study was completed on another continent, with different intentions, yet God was seated at the helm and working all things according to His purposes. People had believed God from the beginning and some had even provided for it each month of the process along the way. The nine-month process that seemed at times to be headed nowhere at all!
However, with most sweet things in life comes something bitter. With gain there is sometimes loss. Saying yes to God meant going against what expectations were for us. Allowing God to provide the answer to our long awaited prayers meant not returning immediately to the field where God has given so much opportunity in recent months. Yet we trusted and are trusting that God has been the initiator since the beginning and that He would see us through as well as sustain His work abroad.

We are now the family of Isaac Anthony Mathenia, born July 10, just four days before we boarded the plane in Ethiopia to return to the USA for ‘our trip’ home. This journey, though very brief thus far, has been a remarkable pleasure for us. And is not every journey in which Christ is at the helm?


Two Things:
1. The legal finalization for Isaac will happen the first week of May. We can at that time apply for a birth certificate, social security card, and passport. Upon attaining those documents we will need visas for travel and then it’s off to Addis.
2. PTI will continue this year with round 4 in January. Also, tentatively scheduled are rounds 5 – 7 in April, July, and October respectively.

In closing, may we solicit your continued prayers on our behalf? Will you join with us in petitioning Him to make much of Jesus in all things?

We cannot thank you enough for your genuine interest in our lives.

Anthony, Amber, Ellie, & Isaac

All Things Adoption.

Well, I know it seems that way of late, but hey, it is where I am living right now.

Anyway, this short article is well worth the read.

Here is a quote for whetting:

"I see the halo of birth parents that surround our family as a beautiful testimony of God’s drawing people from every tribe and tongue into fellowship. "

Tuesday, December 4


Three weeks from today we will all be observing Christmas. The day we all give each other gifts to celebrate Someone else. Go figure! And two weeks after that the Ethiopians will be celebrating their Christmas, but in a much different way than us. The exchanging of gifts is absent, for the most part, from the culture, but the enjoyment of food and fellowship is not. Families and friends will gather and feast on whatever meat they can afford after pooling their funds together. For the more well off, an ox will be slaughtered. From four o’clock in the morning when the process begins they will begin consuming the ox, red meat (lean) and white (fat), and eventually even cook some of it to enjoy also. Other families will merely have a chicken or two to commemorate the day together, and some will delight themselves in sheep or goat, roasted or stir-fried.

For about sixty-five men, this will be their last meal before they board a small 65-passenger bus with 110 other people and make the several hour (or in some cases all day) journey into the city for ten days.
Why would they succumb to such misery as being cramped on to a stuffy 105-degree bus in which no one will dare open a window for fear of moving air making them deathly ill? And ride that way for so long only to finally arrive in a city that is not their home and to a thin piece of foam (AKA a bed) while being fed crushed peas, some boiled veggies and sour fermented mush made from a grain that we have for the most part never even heard of in our country.


I am glad you asked! Primarily, the reason these men are willing to come and suffer the hardship that they face is so that they can learn about Jesus of Nazareth. These sixty-five men are coming to Addis Ababa for round four of the Pastor's Training Institute.

The content/curriculum of PTI-4 that these men are coming to consider will be proclaimed through the preaching of the scriptures. That Jesus was promised of old and that He was born of the Virgin Mary, and that His life was remarkable, not to mention His relentless ministry toward us and for us, His children, will be the beginning point. They will be confronted with the two natures of this God-Man and see clearly the three offices that were combined in Him as Prophet, Priest, and King. Though these men come from impoverished situations, none can compare to the transition that the Christ made by leaving His home of heavenly bliss to dwell on the dusty, dirty streets of His hometown, where He had no honor or a foam mattress in any corner of the village. And following this unthinkable stooping, this Man was murdered by us-type godless men for us-type sinners.

These Habesha men will God-willing begin to consider the real necessity of the atonement that Christ made and also seriously consider its nature and extent. But, they will not have to leave on such a dreary note. They will be expected also to contemplate Jesus even now, in His exaltation, following His physical resurrection and ascension. The Lord’s intercession and representation on their behalf ought to be a great encouragement to these men who have no one representing them on this earth. And in closing all the focus of these men will be on the Holy Spirit of God. His regenerating work, sanctifying grace, and constant comfort should enhance their desire to know and love this Man, Jesus.

May we too be enthralled with Him and His glory among the nations.
Here is one way we can send forth His glory.

Wednesday, November 28

Ethiopia Adoption

I received this email earlier today from Dan Cruver.

Dan is the Ministry Outreach Coordinator at Carolina Hope Christian Adoption Agency.

Our director of international programs went to the Ethiopia Embassy in D.C. today to submit our Ethiopia adoption application. They would not take it because they've stopped accepting US adoption agency applications since this past Sunday. Pray that God will move in the hearts of Ethiopia's leaders to open it back up. They are no longer receiving new applications from adoption agencies until this matter is settled. They have no idea when it will be settled or even if it will be settled. This needs serious prayer. God seemed to be clearing the way for us in this every step of the way. This is the FIRST obstacle, and it's a really, really big one.
May the Father of the fatherless move in the hearts of the governments leaders for the sake of these orphans.

Please pray.

Will you not pray with us?
And for the children?


Here is a recent interview that I completed.

GOD is LOVE - repost & retry

I am hoping that this will motivate me to continue this series.

(1 John 4:7-19)

I have for some time now had good intentions of writing some meditations about the LOVE OF GOD. If we, by HIS help, can fix our thoughts on this reality then our hearts and affections follow so quickly with love to HIM. The Apostle John is a superb example for us, and this portion of scripture serves us immensely concerning this matter. The text brings us immediately to a personal GOD, who is or ought to be the object of our love and worship and life.
To know who and what GOD is has been a vast mystery that has vexed the minds and souls of our race’s greatest thinkers. So to read of this truth so plainly spelled out for us in the Scriptures is quite astonishing.
The apostle here begins with the familiar Christian saying, “let us love one another”, but he doesn’t stop there. He must continue on, for our benefit, and trace the flood to the fountain by stating, “love is from GOD”. Therefore, love is divine, and proceeds from the nature of GOD alone. So wherever divine love prevails, it does so because of a new nature, from above, implanted by the regenerating work of the HOLY SPIRIT. Is this not exactly what John says; “everyone who loves is born of GOD and knows GOD”, and contrastingly as well, “the one who does not love, does not know GOD, for GOD IS LOVE”.
John is not content with generalities here, and thus continues on and refers us to that great, stupendous manifestation of DIVINE LOVE in the incarnation; “the love of GOD was manifested toward us, that GOD has sent HIS only begotten SON into the world so that we might live through HIM.” One result of this sending of HIS SON was propitiatory. Propitiation proves love, love to sinners especially. (1 Jn. 2:1-2) Propitiatory love is a chief demonstration to us of the Supreme splendor of GOD. The LOVE OF GOD being poured out within our hearts (Romans 5:5) displays more of GOD to us than all works or signs.
Throughout these verses there is this thread connecting the love in GOD’S nature, the love in the atonement, the love in JESUS, and the love in the Church. And the clear explanation is that it is the same love flowing from GOD to us via HIS chosen path, which is HIS TRIUNE work of accomplishing our redemption.
The second place where John explicitly states that ‘GOD IS LOVE’ gives us magnificent application for life; “if you abide in love, you abide in GOD and HE abides in you”. The ONE who made you, who has sustained you, and who has redeemed you makes HIS abode in you. The Love of God ought to be our habitation! We must live there, never going out, or, going out soon to return. HIS LOVE should be our atmosphere, where we live and breathe and love. How is this possible? HE has accomplished it all for us.
Consider the final verse in this passage. “We love, because HE first loved us.” And loving us, HE conquered all barriers to us living in HIM and for HIM in all things.

Wednesday, November 14

Concerning Adoption - Biblically.

This was originally preached in January of this year by J. Piper.

Galatians 4:4-8

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. 8 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods.
Romans 8:14-17
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

The biblical foundation for the act of adopting children is primarily in the New Testament rather than the Old. There are only three adoptions in the Old Testament (Moses, Esther, and Genubath, 1 Kings 11:20). Israel is called God’s son (Exodus 4:22; Deuteronomy 14:1; 32:6; Jeremiah 31:9; Hosea 11:1) but not until the New Testament is this called adoption.

The Foundation of Adoption
The deepest and strongest foundation of adoption is located not in the act of humans adopting humans, but in God adopting humans. And this act is not part of his ordinary providence in the world; it is at the heart of the gospel. Galatians 4:4-5 is as central a gospel statement as there is: “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” God did not have to use the concept of adoption to explain how he saved us, or even how we become part of his family. He could have stayed with the language of new birth so that all his children were described as children by nature only (John 1:12-13, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”). But he chose to speak of us as adopted as well as being children by new birth. This is the most essential foundation of the practice of adoption.

Eight Similarities
What I would like to do is lay out eight similarities between what God did in adoption and what happens in a Christian adoption today. I pray that whether you have adopted, or are engaged in assisting adoptions, or are pondering an adoption, God will use these comparisons to heighten your confidence that God is graciously involved in our adoptions. He has done it himself. He knows what it costs. And he stands ready to support us all the way to the end.

1. Adoption was (for God) and is (for us) costly.
When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. (Galatians 4:4-5)
To redeem means to obtain or to set free by paying a price. What was the price that God paid for our liberation and adoption? In the previous chapter, we heard the answer: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree’” (Galatians 3:13). It cost God the price of his Son’s life.
There are huge costs in adopting children. Some are financial; some are emotional. There are costs in time and stress for the rest of your life. You never stop being a parent till you die. And the stresses of caring about adult children can be as great, or greater, than the stresses of caring for young children. There is something very deep and right about the embrace of this cost for the life of a child!
Few things bring me more satisfaction than seeing a culture of adoption. It means that our people are looking to their heavenly Father for their joy rather than rejecting the stress and cost of children in order to maximize their freedom and comforts. When people embrace the pain and joy of children rather than using abortion or birth control simply to keep children away, the worth of Christ shines more visibly. Adoption is as far as possible from the mindset that rejects children as an intrusion. Praise God for people ready to embrace the suffering—known and unknown. God’s cost to adopt us was infinitely greater than any cost we will endure in adopting and raising children.

2. Adoption did (for God) and does (for us) involve the legal status of the child.
When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” (Galatians 4:4-6)
There were legal realities God had to deal with. His own justice and law demanded that we be punished and excluded from his presence for our sins. Righteousness was required and punishment demanded. God had to satisfy his justice and his law in order to adopt sinners into his family. This he did by the life, death, and resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ.
This means that the status of being a son legally preceded the experience of the Spirit coming to give us the affections of sons. We are legally sons before we experience the joy of sonship. The object work of our salvation (two thousand years ago at Calvary) precedes and grounds the subjective experience of our salvation by the Spirit today.
So it is with our adopting children today: The legal transactions precede and under gird the growth of family feelings. If the legal red tape seems long and hard, keep in mind that this tape is not yet red with your blood, but Jesus satisfied all the legal demands precisely by shedding his blood.

3. Adoption was blessed and is blessed with God’s pouring out a Spirit of sonship.
Because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” (Galatians 4:6)
You did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. (Romans 8:15-16)
God does not leave us in the condition of aliens when he adopts us. He does not leave us with no feelings of acceptance and love. Rather, he pours his Spirit into our hearts to give us the experience of being embraced in the family. What is remarkable about these two texts is the term abba. It is an Aramaic word. Why then does Paul use it, transliterated, in these two letters written in Greek?
The answer is that it was the way Jesus spoke to his Father, in spite of the fact that virtually no one in Jewish culture referred to God with this endearing word abba. It stunned the disciples. They held onto it as a precious remnant of the very voice of Jesus in the language he spoke. In Mark 14:36, Jesus is in Gethsemane and prays, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Therefore, in adopting us, God give us the very Spirit of his Son and grants us to feel the affections of belonging to the very family of God.
In the mercy of God, in our families God works to awaken affections in adopted children for their parents that are far more than legal outcomes. They are deeply personal and spiritual bonds. Adopted children do not infer that they are our children by checking out the adoption papers. A spirit pervades our relationship that bears witness to this reality. Like the other children in the family, they all cry, “Daddy.”
Praise God that he give us both legal standing as his children and the very Spirit of his Son so that we find ourselves saying from a heart of deep conviction, “Abba, Father.”

4. Adoption was (for God) and is (for us) marked by moral transformation through the Spirit.
All who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” (Romans 8:14)
God does not leave his children without help to bear the moral image of the family. We may trust that his help will be there for our children as we bring them under the means of grace that God uses to awaken and transform his children.

5. Adoption brought us, and brings our children, the rights of being heirs of the Father.
Because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. (Galatians 4:6-7)
The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. (Romans 8:16-17)
Notice that Galatians 4:7 says we are heirs “through God” and Romans 8:17 says we are heirs “of God.” In Galatians, the context is the promise of Abraham—through God, that is, by his sending his Son to redeem us, we are heirs with Abraham (even though many of us are Gentiles!) of his inheritance, namely the world (Romans 4:13). But in Romans 8:17, the context is that we, with Christ, are heirs of all that God has, namely, everything. “All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s” (1 Corinthians 3:21).

6. Adoption was (for God) and is (for us) seriously planned.
He chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:4-6)
Adoption in God’s mind was not Plan B. He predestined us for adoption before the creation of the world. Plan A was not lots of children who never sin and never need to be redeemed. Plan A was creation, fall, redemption, adoption so that the full range of God’s glory and mercy and grace could be known by his adopted children. Adoption was not second best. It was planned from the beginning.
In our lives, there is something uniquely precious about having children by birth. That is a good plan. There is also something different, but also uniquely precious, about adopting children. Each has its own uniqueness. Your choice to adopt children may be sequentially second. But does not have to be secondary. It can be as precious and significant as having children by birth. God is able to make adoption and A+ plan in our lives.

7. Adoption was (for God) and often is now (for us) from very bad situations.
We . . . were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. (Ephesians 2:3)
God did not find us like an abandoned foundling bundled on the front step and irresistibly cute. He found us ugly and evil and rebellious. We were not attractive. We would not be easy children to deal with. And, what’s worse, God himself was angry with us. He hates sin and rebellion. We were then doubly “children of wrath.”
These are the ones God pursued in adoption. Therefore, all of God’s adoptions crossed a greater moral and cultural divide than any of our adoptions could. The distance between what we are, and what God is, is infinitely greater than any distance between us and a child we might adopt. God crossed the greatest cultural barrier to redeem and adopt us.
Consider too, that according to Romans 9:4, the people that God chose in the Old Testament, the Israelites, were adopted out of a terrible situation. “They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises.” But how was this adoption effected? Hosea 11:1, “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.” They were slaves in Egypt. But not only that, they were often also rebellious against God. “Our fathers, when they were in Egypt, did not consider your wondrous works; they did not remember the abundance of your steadfast love, but rebelled by the sea, at the Red Sea” (Psalm 106:7).
Therefore, God went and took a son from Egypt who was both enslaved and rebellious. The pattern is set: adoptions do not just come from nice, healthy, safe, auspicious situations.

8. Adoption meant (for all Christans) and means (for Christian parents) that we suffer now and experience glory later.
The whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:22-23)
This strikes us as strange. Aren’t we already adopted? Why does Paul say that we are “waiting for our adoption”? Yes, we are already adopted. When Christ died for us, the price was paid, and when we trust him, we are legally and permanently in the family. But God’s purpose for adoption is not to leave any of his children in a state of groaning and suffering. He raised Jesus from the dead with a new body, and he promises that part of our adoption will be a new resurrection body with no more disabilities and no more groaning. Therefore, what we wait for is the full experience of our adoption—the resurrection of our bodies.
There is much groaning in the path of adoption on the way to full salvation. But the outcome is glorious. It is worth it all. “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18).
This is especially relevant for parents of children with disabilities. They know the “groaning” of this life. All of us have children with some sort of disability, and some of us will live to get very old and watch our children age and die before we do. Others will see their children struck down in war or by accident or disease. Others will care for a disabled child till one of them dies. All of this groaning is groaning in hope because we are adopted by God and destined for a resurrection and an eternal future of health and wholeness and joy. It will be worth it all.

Wednesday, October 31

God's Men in Jimma

This is Getenet, who pastors in the town of Jimma, which is referenced in the article below.

Pray that God would protect him and cause the Gospel to flourish among this town!

This is Zecharias and Tamarat. They are in the church planter's training program. (PTI)
Ask the Lord to prepare them and send them to proclaim His Son to the unreached of Ethiopia!

Persecution in Ethiopia

Radical Muslims Attacked Christians in South West Ethiopia

10/31/07 Ethiopia (International Christian Concern) - In mid October 2007, radical Muslims attacked houses belonging to Christians, burned down a church and vandalized farm land belonging to Christians in south west Ethiopia. Most of the attacks that occurred against Christians in Ethiopia in 2006 and 2007 have been occurring in the south west part of the country. This article gives background information to the region as well as details of the attacks that occurred in mid October 2007.

Islam in Jimma

The majority of people in the south west Ethiopia are Muslims out of the 3 million estimated people in Jimma region; only 2% are evangelicals while 90% are Muslims. Islam has a long history in this region and Muslims living around the area have been strongly connected to Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and others.

Islamization of Jimma occurred during the reign of King Aba Jifar who was also the last King of Jimma. The province was later absorbed into Ethiopian state in the beginning of 20th Century and that reduced the influence of the king and finally the Kingdom was abolished. But still Aba Jifar’s family has a lot of sway in the province. The descendants of Aba Jifar who live in Arab countries as well as in the West are continuing to influence the growth of Islam in Jimma area.

Muslim fundamentalists and radicals are now taking deep root and are persecuting the churches of Christ. Last year alone, they burned over 800 churches and houses and killed hundreds of Christians. Besides in March 2007 they killed Evangelist Tadesse in broad day light in Jimma town. It is puzzling that no one has been brought to justice for killing the evangelist.

Evangelism in Jimma

No matter how enormous the challenges are, the gospel of Jesus Christ is spreading like wild fire among Muslims in Jimma. Contextual evangelism was launched three years ago by a visionary man of God who had a burden to reach Muslims for Christ. Soon the vision was taken up by an evangelical church which is using it effectively to communicate the good news of Jesus Christ in the Jimma region. So far Muslims are flocking to Christ in great numbers, responding to the calling of the Lord, with 1,100 converting to Christianity and 261 being baptized.

The unique thing about this movement is that it focuses on contextual evangelism than the usual method of evangelism. These converts worship the Lord in the house called "Ruh -Allah Mosque", meaning - The Spirit of Allah that directly refers to Jesus Christ in the Quran. So basically the meaning of their place of worship means the house of the Lord. There is neither Crescent nor Cross on the place of their worship.

They sing in their own context although they sometimes sing like evangelicals do. They are encouraged to pray in their own context as well. The contextualization aspect is attracting more Muslims to easily come to Christ and identify themselves with these true followers of Christ. It is also noted that there are some Muslim leaders who are following Christ with their whole heart but not yet come out and identified with these group. They are teaching their people from the Quran about the Son of God , who is the light, Spirit of Allah, word of Allah, creator, righteous, sign, born, died & rose again, etc.

Christian ministries are also sending students on short and long term mission basis and God's love is continued to be known and touching many Muslims in the area.

Persecution against Christians

The radical Muslims are infuriated due to large number of conversion of Muslims to Christianity and are reacting violently as seen recently in Buyo locality in Jimma. The locality is found in Seka province which is 15 Km away from Jimma town. Nearly two hundred converts from Islam to Christianity live in the village where 95 % of its residents are Muslims.

The violence began on the 14th Oct, 2007 in midnight when the Muslim extremists set a fire to Mr. T's house. Then Mr. T fled to Jimma town to report to the government officials about the incident. The next day, another house was burnt down. This house was the place that used to serve the Christians as their gathering place and it belonged to the missionary named Mr X.

As the Christians in this place were newly converted from the Islam, the radical Muslims were threatening them for the last two weeks saying like, "You can't live here being Christians; we are going to prove it to you very soon"

Then again fives house were set on fire although they were not completely burned down as some people came out and put it off. Yet the houses became out of use as they were damaged severely. Some other houses were also broken into and totally 13 families became homeless and all the Christians, nearly 200, in this village became victims of this violence in one or the other ways. Then 25 people who were targeted in a special way fled to Jimma town and the brethren in Jimma town are providing them with food, shelter and clothing.

Although the Seka province government officials were aware of this violence, they kept quiet until the federal police from Jimma town interfered and commanded them to take actions. It has to be known that the officials in Seka themselves are Muslims and sided with the perpetrators. That is why the victims had to come and report to the federal police when they could have gone to the Seka town Police.

Pressured by the federal police, government officials in Seka town put 13 of the perpetrators in Jail for only one day and released them without taking their case to the court. They held three days meeting with the residents and tried to settle things unfairly. They spoke to the people about religious freedom in Ethiopian constitution and promised the Christian minority that they would be given a plot of land where they can build their church.

In spite of the official's advices and meetings with the people, the Muslim extremists again burned down one house after a week and continued threatening the Christians. The Muslim extremists have continued to perpetrate such acts because there have not been any measures taken against them for their past actions. Mr Y, one of the victims said, "The perpetrators are even getting ready to take a worse action against us provided that the opportunity avails itself.”

It was not only their houses but also their properties were severely damaged. Coffee trees, Avocado trees, Mango trees, banana trees and some other trees that have been the main sources of income were cut down. It takes at least 3 -4 years to get back them in place. This means the Christians have to rely on aid for long time.

This incident is yet another proof that religious freedom is being curtailed in Ethiopia, a country where government alleges that its building democracy and rule of law. The prevalent situation makes it difficult to worship freely in some areas of south western Ethiopia. It is unacceptable that Ethiopian authorities fail to bring perpetrators of such horrible acts to justice despite their constitutional obligation to do so.

Now thirteen families along with their children are with out houses. They are sheltered by friends and relatives not having something to eat and put on by their own.

One of the victims, Mr A, who used to be a famous robber before coming to Christ stated that, "I was running to and living in the bush hide myself from authorities who would arrest me for my crimes. However, when I became a good man and citizen due to the gospel of Jesus Christ, you burned down my house. Well, don't worry, now for the sake of the gospel, I can still go to the bush and live there. The burning down of my home can't make me turn back from Christ."

Another victim Mr B said that, "Standing up on the ashes of the burnt home, I proclaim the gospel of the grace of God"

When asked by their Muslim relatives to leave their husbands and come back to Islam, the women in one accord said, "Forward, Ever! Backward, Never!"

When asked about if they are already getting support from brethren in Jimma & surrounding Mr Z, said, "It breaks my heart that the Christian community here is not fast enough in responding to our situation".

Mr Z, commented on the persecution and said, "What the Muslim extremists are doing to us is making the moderate Muslims to hate Islam and come to Christianity. This in turn continued to annoy the extremists and multiply their attack against us."

Article from

Pics of Isaac

Sunday, October 28

Prayer Update - October 28

* The arrival of our son, Isaac, on Monday October 29.

* The provision that is needed for finalization of the adoption.

We do appreciate your praying with/for us!

Saturday, October 27

Isaac Anthony

As you can see, we have met him, and on Monday, October 29 at 7 p.m. he will be placed here with us. Thanks for praying. We urge you to continue!

Tuesday, October 23

Prayer Update from Addis

It is early Tuesday morning, the sun is as bright as the noon day back home,
and the birds are filling the cool brisk air with their amazing song. There
is nothing like mornings here! In contrast to the nights, the mornings are
even more noteworthy.

PTI round 3 is complete now and the men have returned to their villages to,
Lord willing, continue the digestion of all that God was pleased to give us
from His word this past week. In your praying for this to happen, please do
lift up round 4 as well, which will occur between January 9-19, if all goes
as scheduled. I am not sure of the specifics of round four as of yet, but
after a short time thinking through where we have been, it will become
increasingly clear where we are to go from here.

The second major project that I needed to accomplish on the trip was to
change houses here in Addis. Our lease was up and we had secured another
home but had yet to move in. This took basically 3 days with a lot of help.
The Lord is incredibly gracious to us here and had granted us with many
outstanding friends. This was a chore that would have been impossible
without their assistance. After two or three loads, a meeting with the
acting owner, and some small errands this too will be completed and a huge
relief to me.

In closing, I covet more than I can express in words, your continued prayers
for Amber, Ellie , and I concerning the growth of our family. Being on
different continents for extended periods of time, roaming to and fro
without a home, all of the normal stresses of life and receiving an addition
to the family seem to be piling up rather rapidly. So, for this we beg your
constant intercession.

Concerning the particulars with the adoption, all of the necessary
information has been exchanged and the baby has been given to us. Upon my
arrival we will have the freedom to schedule a time to meet him, the family
caring for him since birth, and then to take him home with us. The only
other stipulation on our part is the financial one.

God has already begun to provide for this, and we feel certain that in His
mandate to care for orphans He can also supply what is needed to fulfill
this often neglected command from on High. After all, is not the whole of
the Christian life this way? What can we really do within ourselves that
God commands us to do? Absolutely nothing! St. Augustine summed up this idea
wonderfully when he said concerning the Lord and His commands, (and I
paraphrase) "Command whatever You want God...and grant us whatever you
command". Does not scripture back up this quote? We are commanded to repent
and believe the gospel, yet we are completely incapable. Yet God gives us
faith to believe and grants us the gift of repentance toward Him in the
gospel. So, will he not also provide in this very concrete area of gospel
life and ministry?

Thank you for your kind interest in our lives and our ministries.
We appreciate your praying for us especially, and are completely dependant
on God answering your prayers for both our life and our work.


Thursday, October 18

Update from Addis - PTI 3 - Day 4

I cannot express in words really the gratitude that I feel towards God for
His help in teaching this week. Nor can I adequately thank you for your
involvement, whatever it may be.

Today was especially aided it seemed. We arrived in our journey of Sin at
the point where sin was first committed by humans and thus passed down by
imputation to all of humanity. This concept, it appeared, had never been
entertained before, at least not to any extent. We looked extensively at
Genesis 3 and then turned to Romans 5 to see how that initial iniquity has
so deeply affected us all.

Following lunch, in the afternoon, we considered 2 Samuel 11-12 which is
David's fall into sin, the consequences of that fall, and also his eventual
repentance toward God. The effects of a seemingly 'small' sin are so evident
in this passage. David is lazy, and is not where he is supposed to be
fighting a war with his people. This, on the surface, appears such an
insignificant issue. However, it leads to only more sin and that sin carries
with it more severe consequences. Laziness begets lust and lust leads to
adultery. David eventually encourages Uriah, who is one of his mighty men,
to indulge in drink and causes him sin. Then, David orders Uriah to the
front lines to be killed so that the adultery would be hidden from the eyes
of men. Uriah is murdered, but David's method of covering is insufficient
and God does find him out. When Nathan is sent to David with a story to
point out David's sin, David does see the sin in the life of the man in the
story but is completely unaffected by his own sin. It is so easy for us to
see the sin in others, even when we are wrapped up in the worst of evils.
God pronounces never-ending war on David's house, and promises that evil
with come upon him from within his own home. God also warns David that the
child that his sin has brought forth will not live. It is in the midst of
this that Nathan points out to David that he is that man in the story whom
David suggest should die, and David is granted grace to repent before God
for sinning against Him.

My translator even commented today that he had never considered that sin was
primarily against God. He said that he thought it only affected him and
maybe his family. My hope is that many others were confronted with this
staunch truth and will begin to deal with the reality of sin being a sure
thief of God's glory.

Please pray that God would deal thoroughly in the hearts of these men, so
that they may experientially know these great truths and Lord willing one
day accurately apply them in fellow brother's and sister's lives.

Tuesday, October 16

Day 2...

Though it may be some time before you read this b/c I do not have internet, I will offer an update anyway. Today went well I believe. The men seem attentive and some even effected by what we are discussing. Some of the application that I used today was from Old Testament narratives. Here is just a snippet from one of them.

1 Samuel 2:12-36 Eli and his sons:
The sons failed to learn the law of God and His expectations for them resulting in them despising the Lord and committing all kinds of gross sin. Eli did an insufficient job of rebuking them and dealing with the sin in his sons. God declares that his sons will die and no one in his family will ever live past the prime of their life. In Chapter 3:14 God declares that the iniquity of the house of Eli will be never be atoned for by sacrifice or offering. That is quite a judgment resulting from not knowing the word of God, and for not dealing with sin thoroughly and biblically.

AAAaaand we're off...

PTI 3 started in full force today.
We spent the morning reviewing the premise of the entire program, hoping to engrain or re-engrain the emphasis of God's glory in the Church, while at the same time making clear the need to be slow and careful in our preparation and study.
We looked at Philippians 4:8ff as well, noting how Paul had learned to be content in all circumstances.  This was needed to curb presuppositions of how these seminars/conferences should be conducted. God helped us wonderfully to see that He alone is our Provision and He gives us all we need for life and godliness, while He withholds no good thing from His children.
From there we dove into Sin. Answering the question why we are covering sin at this point in the sessions and why the Doctrine of Sin is so crucial for us to deal with carefully and appropriately. We covered the importance on a personal level, and also the importance of it as ministers of the gospel. Because to miss sin in the gospel we preach is to do what Paul warned against in Galatians 1:6-9. The gospel without a biblical understanding of sin is 'another' gospel. We considered the ramifications of being wrong just a bit on the gospel today and what that would look like in 20, 50, or 100 years. Paul was helpful again in 1 Timothy 4:16 when he charges ministers to take great care in what the believe and what the teach, because salvation is on the line both for the minister and those being ministered to.

We looked at God's displeasure with sin as seen in 2 Chronicles 6-7. And then we considered the ways in which sin is in direct opposition to God, with help from R. Venning’s The Sinfulness of Sin. I will list here for your consideration:
Sin is in opposition with God.  

  1. with His Nature
  2. with His Names & Attributes
  3. with His works
  4. with His law & will
  5. with His image
  6. with His people
  7. with His glory
  8. with His being

I do covet your continued prayers. Today was a long day. I will not, I hope, ever expect any of the guest teachers to do so much in one day.  Nonetheless, God is helping and I trust that He will continue to do so.

Saturday, October 13

A-A Arrival

I am in Ethiopia, at our home, and needing desperately to sleep. I did not get much on the way and now the clock is thrown off. It is 3:30 a.m. and I feel up for the day, though I am hoping for a wave of tiredness to come over me. I will welcome it for sure.

Tomorrow, Sunday, I will get last minute preparations made, find out where we are logistically for the Institute that begins on Monday and attempt to get some rest.

It is so different being here without the whole family. I am hoping and praying that the 'pit' in my stomach will be absent when the sun rises in a few hours. Exhaustion is playing more of a role than I realize, I suspect. But nonetheless, I do miss being here with them. If I had to guess, I would assume that living anywhere in the world in any condition is not as tremendous of a change as being in a 'familiar' place without them. Though, I do feel less 'familiar' with everything here right now...and yet that too may disappear with the night.

I write all of this to say...please do pray for me/us during this time.

I am not sure how blogging will work from here, because it is blocked right now. I will attempt to use email for these updates.

Thursday, October 11

Prayer Update - October 11

This prayer update is different in that it will not merely be a short list for you to view. There is much going on in our lives right now and we are in need of copious amounts of prayer. Most of you know already that I am departing tomorrow for a couple of weeks in Ethiopia, and my plate there will be like a one trip buffet with a dessert saucer. Due to time and financial restraints the teaching sessions may look different this time around.

*Please pray for the ministers; their travel, their absorption of the Word, their attentiveness, and their long term application in life and ministry.
*Please do pray for me as well! We will be meeting for 8-10 hours per day in order to lessen the overall costs of the Institute this round. Also, I will be moving us from our present house to our new home, and really without having been there, you cannot imagine the nightmare of doing something like this. I covet your constant intercession!

Switching gears...
Upon my return in two weeks, we are planning for the newest addition to our family. In the past 3 weeks we have completed the necessary requirements for the placement of our second child. So, Lord willing, Ellie will have a 3-month old little brother within the month. Do pray for us! A month is not exactly an extensive time frame for preparing to be parents again. The needs, as you can imagine, span from emotional to spiritual to financial to physical.

We do appreciate your immense interest in our lives and work.
We are completely dependent upon God to be our sustenance. He has so faithfully blessed us thus far and we bank our hope on the fact that He does not change!

Saturday, September 29

Prayer Update - September 30

I have included my schedule for the next 6 weeks as a prayer request.
A glance at it will let you know why.

September 30 - CCC - 11am
October 3 - FBC Henderson TN - 6:45pm
October 12-26 PTI 3 - Ethiopia
November 4 - FBC Henderson TN
November 11 - CCC - 11am
November 18 - CCC - 11am

Also, the time is quickly approaching for PTI 3 in Ethiopia.
I am departing on October 12, one week from Friday.
We are close to half-way on the funding, and need your prayers for
this provision.

Thanks for praying with/for us.

Monday, September 17

Beach Week

Thursday, September 13

PTI Round 3 is ON! & It Is a Prayer Request!

In just over five weeks, the third round of PTI will begin. Plans are coming along rather well and all is set for 70+ men to continue their preparation for planting churches among the un-evangelized peoples of Ethiopia.

I will be heading up the training this time around and I am exited about it. I will spend about thirty hours on the Doctrine of Humanity and then thirty more on the Doctrine of Sin. So, there will be sixty hours of teaching/preaching in these two areas combined! It goes without mentioning that I covet your prayers in the coming days. We are headed out of town (whatever 'town' is for us) on vacation this week and I plan to do a major portion of the work while away.
Please pray for the time, both the work and the vacating!

One reality of training these men for gospel ministry is the expense involved. These are extremely poor men who are traveling into the city away from their homes and families in order to participate in the Institute. Their churches as well as some of the men as individuals are paying some of the cost, but it is impossible for them to cover it in it's entirety. (over a month's salary) Please do petition the Lord to show Himself Strong as the great Provider yet again.

Thank you for praying with us concerning this!

Wednesday, September 5

Our week to the North

In Pictures.

Ellie & T-Rex
Brandy & Violet
The Strassners
Shish Kebobs
R & R
Ellie, Julia, & a Triceratops
Tobey & Amber
Ellie & Violet

Tuesday, September 4

Hymns for the Wedding Feast

Click the text for the tune.

Jesus, Thy Blood and Righteousness
Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness
My beauty are, my glorious dress;
’Midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed,
With joy shall I lift up my head.

Bold shall I stand in Thy great day;
For who aught to my charge shall lay?
Fully absolved through these I am
From sin and fear, from guilt and shame.

The holy, meek, unspotted Lamb,
Who from the Father’s bosom came,
Who died for me, e’en me to atone,
Now for my Lord and God I own.

Lord, I believe Thy precious blood,
Which, at the mercy seat of God,
Forever doth for sinners plead,
For me, e’en for my soul, was shed.

Lord, I believe were sinners more
Than sands upon the ocean shore,
Thou hast for all a ransom paid,
For all a full atonement made.

When from the dust of death I rise
To claim my mansion in the skies,
Ev’n then this shall be all my plea,
Jesus hath lived, hath died, for me.

This spotless robe the same appears,
When ruined nature sinks in years;
No age can change its glorious hue,
The robe of Christ is ever new.

Jesus, the endless praise to Thee,
Whose boundless mercy hath for me—
For me a full atonement made,
An everlasting ransom paid.

O let the dead now hear Thy voice;
Now bid Thy banished ones rejoice;
Their beauty this, their glorious dress,
Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness.

-Count Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf

O, The Bitter Shame and Sorrow
O the bitter shame and sorrow,
That a time could ever be,
When I let the Savior’s pity
Plead in vain, and proudly answered,
“All of self, and none of Thee!”

Yet He found me; I beheld Him
Bleeding on th’accursèd tree,
Heard Him pray, “Forgive them, Father!”
And my wistful heart said faintly,
“Some of self, and some of Thee!”

Day by day His tender mercy,
Healing, helping, full and free,
Sweet and strong, and ah! so patient,
Brought me lower, while I whispered,
“Less of self, and more of Thee!”

Higher than the highest heavens,
Deeper than the deepest sea,
Lord, Thy love at last hath conquered:
Grant me now my supplication,
“None of self, and all of Thee!”

-Theodore Monod

The Wedding Feast - Matthew 22:1-14

If you are reading this, the chances are good that you have heard this sermon already.

But, just in case you haven't. Here is your chance!

Thursday, August 23

Are you a Tacit Gnostic?

Consider it for yourself here.

My friend Matt Crawford is guest blogging and has offered us this for our contemplation.

Monday, August 20


In the opening session of PTI (1), the classes were comprised of a focus on God, what He says about Himself in His Word, and the teachings of His Son, Jesus, in Matthew 5-7, commonly called ‘The Sermon on the Mount’.

In the succeeding PTI (2), we looked intensely at Christ’s life in the Gospel of John and considered the centrality of Jesus as it is portrayed from Genesis to Revelation.

In each of these sessions, several specific areas of concern were revealed with regard to the common understanding of God and His gospel. As these areas arose we were able to deal with them scripturally and with the Lord’s help pastorally.

With that said, PTI 3 may be the most crucial round so far. (it is actually the most important only b/c it is the ‘next’ one on the agenda)

The prominent understanding of Man and Sin among evangelical Christians in Ethiopia is skewed from the biblical idea of the state of man in sin and separated of God. So, this is an incredibly important round of teaching that is coming up in October.

I will attempt to spell out these particular issues more fully in the near future so that you may understand and be able to pray more specifically.

We do covet your constant and continued prayers.

Duncan on Discipleship

There are many ways and places that the Bible teaches us the importance of church membership. But one important way is in how it identifies the local church as the Jesus-appointed place for Christian discipleship. Where do we see that spelled out in Scripture?

Well, for instance, in the Great Commission! In Matthew 28:19, Jesus says "Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing . . . and teaching them." So where does Jesus say that the discipleship he commands us to foster is supposed to take place? What is the context of discipleship, according to Jesus? Where does he want you to be discipled? The answer is clear and simple. We are to be discipled in the place, in the context, in which baptism is administered. And where is that? The para-ministry? The campus Christian fellowship? Our favorite Christian voluntary organization? The small group of Christian friends who gather regularly to pray in one anothers homes. No, not primarily. These may all be good things. But Jesus answer here is different and fundamental.

His answer? In the local church. Jesus wants us to be discipled in the context of the believing community where the vows of baptism are taken and where a whole fellowship of Christians is committed to mutual encouragement and accountability - "make disciples, baptizing and teaching them," he says. In other words, real Christian discipleship is inescapably corporate and ecclesial. The discipleship and teaching that Jesus enjoins is to take place in the context where baptism is administered, right smack dab in the middle of the baptized community. Jesus says that’s the place where discipleship happens – the local church. And that’s just one reason why church membership is so important.

Ligon Duncan

Pastor's Training Institute

The Pastor’s Training Institute is a newly implemented program designed for the training and instruction of gospel ministers in Ethiopia. Beginning in April 2007 and continuing for about two years, our hope is that God will raise up His men for the planting of new churches among the un-evangelized of Ethiopia.

The curriculum consists of biblical and systematic theology taught in two-week module style classes every other month. The teaching pastors are invited from the United States to come and teach in their desired topic/subject area. Also included in the training will be relevant cultural issues and practical guidance.

There are currently 75 new ministers enrolled from the local churches throughout the country. Upon their completion of PTI, and upon giving credible evidence of meeting biblical qualifications to pastor, the men will be sent out to ‘un-reached’ villages/areas to begin a new gospel work with hopes that God will establish a church there.

Wednesday, August 8

Prayer Update - August 8

* My health does seem better and improving...thanks for praying.

* The work with the Addis Kidan and PTI 3, which begins in October. Doctrine of Sin & Man

* That God would raise up whomever He pleases to lead the teaching/preaching in PTI 3.

Tuesday, July 31

Prayer Update - July 31

* Please pray for my health, that it will continue to improve. (Malaria)

* Terry Waller (WFA-I) is in Ethiopia for a couple of more weeks Agua Para Todos

* The work with the Addis Kidan and PTI 3, which begins in October. Doctrine of Sin & Man

Wednesday, July 18

Prayer Update - July 18

We are home...

A vehicle has been provided as well. Thanks for praying.

For those of you who have not heard...



Tuesday, July 10

Prayer Update - July 10

We will be home in August...A vehicle for traveling is a wonderful blessing while we are there. Please pray with us in this.


Do you think that there is something behind the fact that over 80% of those who commented to the question have set their feet on the ground here in Ethiopia?

Sunday, July 8

Prayer Update - July 8

* Terry Waller (WFA-I) will be coming to Ethiopia for a one month stay (Terry's link is below if you don't know him) Agua Para Todos

* Wisdom and Direction with the training of the Addis Kidan Pastors

* Dina - Orthodox Neighbor, 17 year old girl, seems colder by the day

* Ben & Pipo - Newly Married

Saturday, July 7

May I Offer an Answer?

It is quite possible that to many of you it appears sort of odd that we would be ‘missionaries’ serving in an overseas setting, yet be so committed to working with and through the local church.

So, if you are in fact wondering, or if you haven’t considered it until I just brought it up, here is a quick synopsis of why we are unwavering in our commitment to labor within and for the local church.

The short answer:
There is NO other means (other than the local church) of doing ministry even hinted at in the holy scriptures! God does not offer any other alternatives (not agencies, organization, or NGOs); He ordained that His kingdom would be built in and through His church.

The longer answer:
Is the church not of utmost importance to God? He Himself saw fit to place His electing love on her in eternity past…and then paid an unimaginable price to redeem her, the blood of His only Son, Jesus Christ.
God has sought out His enemies, conquered them with His extraordinary love, and then did the unthinkable…adopted them into His family! And not only that, but He is God-eternal and therefore He does not/cannot stop there, but lavishes His children with all that they need for life and for godliness in this life as well as guaranteeing them a splendid and distinguished inheritance in the life to come.
He chooses to display His own worth and excellence in the lives of His children (former enemies have been transformed into Majesty mirrors). And if that is not enough… consider Who He has placed at the church’s Head; none other than the ultimately glorious one, Jesus of Nazareth.
The same Jesus that when He left His followers on earth promised that He would not leave them as orphans but that He would send another comforter in the person of the Holy Spirit, Who is God Himself. It was when this Spirit of God came in such awesome power that the church of our Lord was actually birthed.

And now here we are, a score of centuries later, living in this reality…that God has established His church, for His people, to worship His Son, and spread His kingdom.

A round about way to say a few things, I know. But, I hope I have been at least a tiny bit clear that whether a long-time church-member, a new pastor, a believing child, or a international missionary, we all have absolutely NO other option of being a part of kingdom work except for working/serving in and through His local church.

Thursday, July 5

For You to Consider...

While you await my answer to my own is, by the way, coming soon!

Click here to read.

Sunday, July 1

May I Pose a Question?

Actually, it is a question that I have a desire to answer and will hopefully do just that later this week.

But, until then, I would like to stimulate some 'chatter' about what it is that we are doing here in Ethiopia.

So, here goes...
We are considered "missionaries", we live in the 3rd poorest country in the world, the people of this country are 88% un-evangelized, YET we 'choose' to work with/through one local church here. I still have not asked a question, I realize it is...or here they are...

Is what we are doing missions?
If not, what is it?
If it is, then how is it missions?

There you have it.
Some discussion please!
I will answer myself when dialogue ceases.

Also, I cannot comment on the blog (or any blog for that matter) due to the government blockage. I only have the ability to post and read. So, I will be able to see the comments, and if needed then I will respond by means of a new post.

Saturday, June 30

Concerning HIS Church


May his name endure forever;
May his name increase as long as the sun shines;
And let men bless themselves by him;
Let all nations call him blessed.
Blessed be the LORD God, the God of Israel,
Who alone works wonders.
And blessed be His glorious name forever;
And may the whole earth be filled with His glory
Amen, and Amen. Psalm 72:17-19


Hail to the Lord’s anointed, great David’s greater Son!
Hail in the time appointed, His reign on earth begun!
He comes to break oppression, to set the captive free;
To take away transgression and rule in equity.

He comes in succor speedy to those who suffer wrong;
To help the poor and needy, and bid the weak be strong;
To give them songs for sighing, their darkness turn to light,
Whose souls, condemned and dying, were precious in His sight.

By such shall He be fearèd while sun and moon endure;
Beloved, obeyed, reverèd; for He shall judge the poor
Through changing generations, with justice, mercy, truth,
While stars maintain their stations, or moons renew their youth.

He shall come down like showers upon the fruitful earth;
Love, joy, and hope, like flowers, spring in His path to birth.
Before Him, on the mountains, shall peace, the herald, go,
And righteousness, in fountains, from hill to valley flow.

Arabia’s desert ranger to Him shall bow the knee;
The Ethiopian stranger His glory come to see;
With offerings of devotion ships from the isles shall meet,
To pour the wealth of oceans in tribute at His feet.

Kings shall fall down before Him, and gold and incense bring;
All nations shall adore Him, His praise all people sing;
For He shall have dominion o’er river, sea and shore,
Far as the eagle’s pinion or dove’s light wing can soar.

For Him shall prayer unceasing and daily vows ascend;
His kingdom still increasing, a kingdom without end:
The mountain dews shall nourish a seed in weakness sown,
Whose fruit shall spread and flourish and shake like Lebanon.

O’er every foe victorious, He on His throne shall rest;
From age to age more glorious, all blessing and all blest.
The tide of time shall never His covenant remove;
His Name shall stand forever, His Name to us is Love.
J. Montgomery

Friday, June 29

Prayer Update Added to Sidebar...

However, I will post them here as well each time they are updated for you RSS dependent folks.

* Saturday Night Bible Study - The Pursuit of Holiness, Jerry Bridges

* Training of the AK Church(es)

* Ben & Pipo - Wedding July 8

* Dina - Orthodox Neighbor, 17 year old girl

Addis Kidan and Us

As those of you who have followed our work here this time will recall, most of our effort has been with the Addis Kidan Church(es). We are so grateful to God for this opportunity and prayerful that we have/will use the occasion for an eternally valuable work. As a result of our prior dealings with the church, I requested to attend the monthly board meeting in May in order to make a proposal concerning a more intentional working affiliation.
In this proposal, I put forward our convictions, expectations, and purpose concerning ministry in and through the local church, (which is summarized in the previous post). Also included in the proposal were various specific areas that are lacking and must be a focus if the churches are to be pleasing to God. I discussed how me might go about bringing the needed reform in the existing churches and what must be changed foundationally in order to plant churches in the future that match the biblical description of Christ’s bride. We agreed that through teaching and preaching (the bible), along with patience (yet real expectation), and love (towards God and His people), God will honor His word and raise up churches that accurately portray Him to the world.
The board, which is made up of several leaders from the denomination, held further discussions following my proposal and I attended a follow up meeting the fourth Saturday in June. They were unanimous in their decision that we should/could have liberty within the church(es) to teach and preach and train the ministers along with the people. We have essentially been doing this already, but now we have the green light to continue and to be more deliberate in our efforts. We will spend the coming days attempting to detail, to some degree at least, how we might proceed in this endeavor.
PTI is well underway and will continue in late September or early October with round three of at least eight. But the training within the existing churches must be tantamount to the training of new ministers, therefore it is essential that we devise a method to get the ministers of the existing church(es) grounded in the bible, rooted in Christ, and embedded deep into a commitment to the Glory of God in His church(es).

Thursday, June 28

Our Work

Due to our strong conviction that the (local) church is the primary way of God displaying His glory and His grace to the nations, we expect and hope/pray that churches will be established and/or reformed in order that they will accurately reflect the character of God. Therefore, our primary purpose of service is to cultivate and encourage churches in these crucial (yet not exhaustive) areas:

1. Theology Proper
2. The Gospel
3. Salvation
4. Preaching
5. Prayer
6. Evangelism
7. Church Issues (membership, government, discipline)
8. Discipleship

Based on these areas and where the church stands right now…
Change is necessary.

So, we have given ourselves to preaching, teaching, and training in the local churches. Our chief work is with the Addis Kidan (AK) denomination. They are about 65 churches and 12K members after 26 years of existence. There are many strong foundational points to begin with inside the AK church, and we hope to build on these areas.

Some of the ways we are working:

• Pastor’s Training Institute (PTI)
o 2 year training program covering systematic & biblical theology along with all relevant culturally issues and practical instruction
o Currently 75 ministers enrolled from local churches throughout the country
o Upon completion and clear biblical qualifications the men will be sent to ‘un-reached’ villages/areas to begin a new gospel work with hopes that God will plant a church there

• Antsokia (Antioch)
o Ongoing training and guidance to existing churches with a focus on the leadership of the church (i.e. elders and evangelists)
o Seminars ranging from one day to one week dealing with pertinent issues in the life of the church and it’s members

5 Comments and a Few Emails Too!

Well, if we beg for feedback then we get a bit, huh?

It appears that the way we will proceed from here is to go ahead with the 'Prayer Update', but in a different fashion that previously planned. There is evidently a consensus on placing the 'update' within the main posting section, primarily because many of you, like me, are using Google Reader (GR) to track your daily web sites and blogs.

So, because you have commented concerning this and many of you have asked for it in one way or another...

Watch close (those of you without GR) in the coming days for our first Prayer Post, and an update on some pertinent ministry issues!

Thanks again. And do pray, please.

Wednesday, June 27

Feedback requested

We are considering adding an item to the sidebar that will link you all directly to a daily/weekly list of things we are praying for and items that we are requesting prayer for. In addition to this, we could list pertinent needs for those of you who ask frequently and then you would always know.

So, what do you think? You can comment here or just email me.

Please do let us hear from you! There are about 200 of you reading this, so 2 or 3 comments will just not be sufficient. Tell us the pros, the cons, or other ideas that you have.

Notice the "Prayer Update" link on the top right. It will let you know how it will work.

Thanks so much.

Saturday, June 23

A Much 'kneeded' Update

Well I have done an absolute horrific job of keeping you all informed about life here in Ethiopia. But nonetheless I will offer an update for you all who are aware that one year ago I underwent ACL reconstruction. It is a real blessing to be able to say that I feel as if I am extremely close to the 100% point in my right knee. I am running 4km, riding 15km on a bike, & climbing 160 flights of stairs, and doing each of these twice week. We are praising God still one year after His provision for the surgery and the success He has granted in it.

Tuesday, June 12

Thoughts about PTI...round 2

are available at this link.

Monday, June 11


Three years ago this morning we met Ellie for the first time. She is a blessing, and we praise God for giving her to us.

Friday, May 25


Just click here!

Friday, May 4


Discussed here in writing and here orally by Kurt Strassner.

Maps of the situation...

...Have been added to the side bar.

It is amazing really the see how the country is split down the middle between the Orthodox and the Muslims.

Notice how few evangelicals are represented, and pray that God would glorify Himself in the salvation of both the Orthodox and the Muslims.

Saturday, April 28

Tuesday, April 24

What is happening at Holle Sire

Holle Sire is located in the Western part of Ethiopia 130 miles from Addis Ababa, the capital. The regional government considers it as the remotest part of the region. All the community in the area are farmers.

In the area there is one wizard. He is worshiped by most of the people. He almost rules the area. He has 12 wives and one of them is his own sister. He has more than one hundred children. Currently such witch doctor activity is viewed as an Oromo traditional religion and is authorized by the Oromia regional government, by calling it waqa feta. It is considered as one of the religions like Christianity and Islam.

The wizard, by having political support, economical power and religious followers in the area, has become like a king of the area. Two months ago I was there to visit churches. We have six churches in that area. One of them was facing persecution at that time. They received land from the local government and started building a church. While they were in the middle of building, the government officials came to them and commanded them to stop work. They even ordered them to dismantle what they had already built. When they asked why, the officials told them that it is the territory of the wizard. Fortunately I was able to speak to the district officials in the village. They had a big meeting with the village leaders. I had a good discussion with them. After that they allowed them to continue building the church and stopped the wizard from bothering Christians in the area. But actually he continued his bad activity against church plantings.

Three years ago God opened the door wide to planting churches in the middle of this situation and to winning people for Christ. God has used people of the area for the evangelization of the community. One person came to Addis Ababa to seek a better life. He was hired as a guard in one of our local churches, Mekanisa Addis Kidan Baptist Church. Our Lord Jesus Christ touched his life and he became converted. God also burdened him to evangelize his community. He decided to spend his off times from his work with his village people. While doing that on several trips the community observed his life change and he got their attention. He preached the gospel and won energetic passionate leaders of the community. Currently there are six churches around the area with a total membership of 700 baptized, 1500 children, as well as many non-baptized people.

Abebe Lechisa, the chair person of the village, was one of the first converted people. He has taken the lead in the evangelization of the area. He is not only the leader of the community, but he is also a man who is in a good economic situation. He has a grain grinding mill which works by diesel. Since the day of his conversion he has given all his life for Christ. The church started gathering in his house. Whenever guests went to that community he is the one who hosts the guests in a good way. He travels in the neighborhood and tells the gospel to his people, encourages new believers, and protects the churches from any attack. In my observation he is a key person for that area work.

Satan is working currently to paralyze the work of Holle Sire. As a strategy he targets brother Abebe to discourage him. Ten days ago they had a spiritual conference and a wedding in a neighboring church of Holle Sire. All believers of the six local churches gathered in that church. They invited all the non-believing community and all attended the program. Not only the believers, but also all the non-believing community members were so excited about the conference. All the community came, even the main people of the wizard. Abebe was the leader of all this activity. On the last day, last Thursday, they all went to their houses. Abebe arrived at 9:00 pm. He was tired so he was quickly in a deep sleep.

Abebe heard loud shouts around 3:00 am. Since he was tired he felt as if he was in a dream. The shouting increased. He heard a big knock on his door. He woke up and jumped up from his bed. His father called him and informed him that something was burning around their grinding mill. When they arrived there, they found all the community trying to stop the fire. Everything was almost burned up by the fire by that time. They tried with all their effort to stop it but they couldn’t do it since there is no source of water in the village. The fire burned the grinding mill and the property. They lost everything in a few hours. The machine, the house and other properties are worth about 65,000 Ethiopian Birr which is $7,500. They are farmers so it is a huge amount of money for them.

I was there yesterday to visit and encourage them and all the believers in the area. Both Abebe and his father said, “It is not the property we feel sad about but why the people do this while we are doing good for them.”

All the community gathered together and discussed it. All of them were weeping and were saying, “It is not only Abebe and his father’s property. It is ours. People who did this are our enemies.”

We encouraged them with the word of God to be strong in the Lord while they are in such a hard situation. We also encouraged them that God could return what they lost in his own ways. Their plan now is to reinstall another machine if God provides a way and continue their commitment for the Lord. Abebe suspects the wizard did it by hiring another person.

I asked them to make a brief survey about the price to reinstall the machine. The total price needed is 30,000 Ethiopian Birr which is $3500.

Encouraging Abebe is encouraging Holle Sire area work, hastening the evangelization of that area, and delivering all that area from the bondage of the devil. Pray for him, tell other people about him, and do whatever God shows you to encourage him.

Ermias Zenebe
General Secretary, Ethiopian Addis Kidan Baptist Church.

Sunday, April 22

just a pic

Tuesday, April 3

It is like Holocaust !!

Just 10 miles from our home.

Please pray with us!

Tuesday, March 13

Updated Website Info...

For Bingham Academy in the previous post.

Friday, March 9

An Opportunity for You

Bingham Academy is a Christian school here in Addis Ababa. There are openings for teachers at the school for the coming school year. There is no salary for teaching at the school, each teacher must be self-supported. It is considered the best academic school in the country, so children from all over the world are educated there. Actually, more than twenty countries are represented. It is really a mission field. If you are qualified with K-8 certification or a major in the HS subject area and interested contact us for more information. You may contact the recruiter directly, also.

Chances are if you are reading this then you would pass the litmus to live with us during your stay. An estimate of expenses for the school year would not exceed $8,000, and this includes airfare!

And, if you are and SBCer, then you could even get a stipend.

Here is a quick rundown of the openings:

High School (August 07 – June 08)
Business Studies and Economics
Physics (August-January only)

6th Grade (August 07 – June 08)

1st Grade (January-June 2008)