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.