This week’s first story comes from Rick who followed the Lord’s leading to meet and work with His people in Ethiopia:
There were actually three different religious groups that we dealt with in Ethiopia: The Orthodox Christians, the Muslims, and the third were Nature Worshipers. Part of my assignment was to go before the other teams and assess whether or not this would be a good region for us to work with on an ongoing basis. The Christian denomination in this area was originally started by the Sudan Interior Mission – one of the oldest evangelical agencies in the world, so it seemed like a good fit. The church there was already doing an amazing job when it came to evangelism. All we had to do was come along and add a little fuel to their fire.
So, we started working with the Oromo tribe (consisting of 22 million people – the largest tribal group in all of Africa, with people living in Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya). But, the most exciting thing about the trip goes back to a book that I read some time ago called Eternity In Their Hearts by Don Richardson. In the Book, Don says that God has prepared every person in every culture to receive the Gospel with what he calls “A Redemptive Analogy”. I was so pleasantly surprised when we discovered one of these Redemptive Analogies amongst the Oromos! As I was asking questions of the tribe leaders about his culture and history, he told me that within the Oromos, whenever a person would murder another person, the two families involved are obligated to go to war with one another. This would go on for a period of time until somebody determines that it’s time for peace. At this time, someone from each family would go out and get a lamb, kill it, and shed the lamb’s blood into a bowl, where each family member would wash their hands in the blood of the lamb. Only then could peace be established.
It was funny – the tribal elder had no idea why I was so excited to hear this story!
It was amazing to see how God had prepared these people with this picture within their culture of salvation and establishing peace with God.
Back in 1972, I went on my very first missions trip. It was with Sudan Interior Mission in Ethiopia, and I promised God that I would do everything I could to help expand His kingdom by spreading His Good News around the world whenever and however I could. So, for God to give me the opportunity and privilege now to go back to Ethiopia and work there on a regular basis with the same local organization that lit my fire for world missions has made me so incredibly excited to serve Him in new and incredible ways.
Rick’s story is yet another example of what God can do when we submit to His will and He gives us the desires of our hearts. He gave Rick the desire to seek out and find a Redemptive Analogy, and WOW did he ever find a good one! The parallels of needing to be washed in the blood of the lamb and mankind’s need to be washed in the blood of Christ are uncanny!
Next, we hear from Pastor Joe Rhodes who led a team of high school students to India where they saw and faced persecution and opposition:
Whenever I go out on these trips, I always feel like I’m in the Book of Acts, where like the disciples we meet dozens of people who have never heard the Gospel yet are hungry to receive it. And, almost counter-intuitively, when someone says they’re ready to receive Jesus, we ask them a lot of tough questions – almost as if to talk them out of it – to make sure that they understand what it is they’re getting into. Because of this – or maybe despite this – we saw hundreds of people pray to accept Jesus into their lives. We saw miraculous healings: lame people walking, deaf people hearing, demons being cast out of someone, and the like.
But this may be the first time that we’ve ever encountered honest-to-goodness, in-your-face persecution.
We had some people from the NJP (India’s right-wing, conservative Hindu political group) get in the face of one of our interpreters and some of our team members. They threatened our people and even beat up our interpreter. Now, we knew that this happens there, but it was the first time that it ever happened to US.
Now, in the past, I was typically not in favor of bringing high school students on a trip like this. Mainly because most of our ministry work was targeting adults, but there was such an interest from our young people, we decided to give it a try.
One of the highlights came on the third day that we were in country. I got to listen to one of our students share the Gospel with a group of people through her interpreter from beginning to end. Throughout his presentation, I wanted to laugh, I wanted to cry, I wanted to applaud. I was just blown away by how God was using these people – no matter what age they happen to be.
High school students being used on the other side of the globe to expand God’s kingdom. Joe’s story proves that no matter how old someone is, they can still be equipped with the same Armor of God that adults gird up with.
If you would like more information about our trips, or if you would like to go on a trip with us, check out www.e3partners.org.
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