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!