Thursday, July 7, 2011

Ethiopia 2011 Trip Blog has MOVED

If you are here looking for updates from our 2011 Ethiopia teams, we have moved the blog. All updates for this year's trips can be found at

We will be attempting to post updates daily starting Thursday, July 6th. Check back daily for updates and stories of the Lord's work with our teams.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Our God is mighty to save

Team B (nicknamed Billygoat for how far we hiked up the mountain) had a week of ups & downs. Our team consists of Erica Penick, Erin Donner, Vicky Nguyen, Joel Sherman & myself (Tim Coblentz). Our mission site required us to park the van & walk one hour up the mountain outside of Assela. I have included below a day by day account of how we & Christ were received in the village.
MONDAY- Our first day in the village went well as the people were surprised to see us. We played soccer & volleyball with the kids & blew bubbles which they had never seen before. Our plan the 1st day was just to build a foundation of trust so they would feel comfortable with us. The people in the village are either Orthodox or Muslim with one family who are Christians & they are the ones who are the “disciple-makers” & have committed to do follow-up with new believers. Later in the afternoon we shared Christ with the group of young men & women who joined us on the soccer fields. None professed Christ but they asked some great questions.
TUESDAY- We shared Christ many times with groups of young people & adults. Several people accepted Christ but the mood of the village had changed significantly. People in general were not as open to talking with us & we even found one of our bibles we had given out torn up & scattered in the main street almost as if they wanted us to see what they had done. We met with the “chief” of the village who is Muslim & he made it clear that he was upset that we had not come to see him on Monday. He made a veiled threat that he could have us arrested but admitted that he wouldn’t know what to do with us if he did that. He asked us questions about why we were there & we made the decision to make an appointment with him on Thursday since he could thwart our efforts to share Christ if he wanted to. We also met with a very influential man named Fecadu who is the doctor in the village. He is Orthodox & felt that in order to get into heaven he would have to do “good things”. We shared with him for over an hour about God’s free gift of salvation & he admitted that he thought this message was true but he was not ready to make a decision. We made an appointment to come back tomorrow to talk with Fecadu more.
WEDNESDAY- The attitude in the village changed completely. Fecadu, whom we made an appointment to talk with today said he was too busy to meet with us. The kids stole our soccer ball & volley ball. The people walking on the street wouldn’t even greet us & several people yelled at us & told us to leave or that we would be beaten. We obviously were disappointed by the response but were encouraged that hearts in the village must be open to Christ if Satan was stirring up such opposition.
THURSDAY- Another dramatic turn of events. We met with the muslim chief of the village 1st thing. He was excited to meet with us & I shared my testimony about how a personal relationship with Christ had changed my heart. He was moved as men in this culture don’t share their weaknesses. Our meeting was cut short as they had a village meeting that he needed to be involved in. We spent the rest of the morning sharing Christ with several groups & 1 man & 2 women accepted Christ, what an answer to prayer! We then had a 1 hour walk to the top of the mountain where we had lunch with a Christian family. The young girl of the house took off our shoes & washed our feet in what was a very humbling experience. We then walked down the mountain & had a follow-up meeting with the Muslim chief of the village. Because there were other men in the room & the chief had to maintain his “reputation” we decided not to share Christ with him at that time but to wait until our disciplemakers could talk with him one on one. We gave him several gifts for the village & his face lit up & he begged us to come back & share with him & his village in the future. Our team was so excited to see how our reception in the village changed each day & how Christ had moved in the hearts of 8 people.
Our plan for the rest of the week is to work ½ day on Friday & then start the 4 hour drive back to Addis Abbaba. Saturday morning we will get up & visit an orphanage & then spend a little time shopping before we do our trip debrief & re-entry message. Pray for the hearts of the 145 people who accepted Christ this week & for the disciplemakers who will shepherd & encourage them.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Pray for the local witch doctor

I am blown away by the Lord’s saving grace and power! He alone is worthy of all praise. Today one of our disciple makers Diriiba invited us into his beautiful home for refuge from the pouring rain. They blessed us with a wonderful lunch of yummy bread with eggs and boiled potatoes and served us coffee. Diriiba then shared his testimony with us.

He was raised in a family that served a local witch doctor. There are many people in Docia the area where we have been this week that go to a local witch doctor. There is much demonic oppression in this area. Diriiba’s parents serve this witch doctor. As a young boy he took care of his family’s cattle by their home in the fields and he slept by them. At night an evil spirit would come over him and make him mute and it would not leave him. When Diriiba told his parents about this they did not believe him.

He told a friend who told him to go into the market and buy a necklace with the angel Gabriel on it. His friend said wearing this necklace would make the spirit leave him. Diriiba followed his friend’s advice, but he become mute again that night. Another friend told him to say the name “Jesus” and that the spirit would leave him. That evening when the evil spirit came and said the name of Jesus and the spirit left him! Praise God there is power in the name of Jesus! That evening he became a follower of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Diriiba is now a disciple maker for his village! He comes alongside baby new believers and prays with them, gets them plugged into church, and teaches them the word of God. He has such a humble heart and he aches for those who are still trapped in the bondage that he was once in. Please pray for the village of Docia, Diribba’s family, and those who worship Satan and see the witch doctor.

On Monday were we able to share the Gospel with Dida, a first year university student and he came to the Lord! We identified him as a person of peace, a future leader of the believers here. He is a natural leader and has great charisma. He told us that he was going to meet us today and bring many friends to hear of his Jesus. We were so happy to be with him again and see his joy in the Lord. We shared the Gospel with four of his friends and after hearing the story of grace, the men loved our story, but said that they wanted to think the message over and that they were not ready to accept.

Diriiba is related to some of these men and he went onto share that their beliefs are a blend of Ethiopian Orthodox and that they also believe in some demonic things. We then prayed for them and Allen Hankins shared his testimony and Dida, our new friend, went onto share his testimony. He again and again talked about “my Jesus” and the peace and joy that Jesus Christ has given him! He said that last night he prayed to Christ and that the Lord heard his prayer. He said he has been reading the Bible that we gave him. I was moved to tears. We shared scripture with him to encourage and build him up. (Philippians 4:4-6)

Three of the men who were not believers left during this time, but one man remained, Zerion. After hearing more truth and Allen and Dida’s testimony Zerion said he wanted to accept Jesus Christ! It was so beautiful! We were filled with joy. Demeka, our translator, and Allen prayed with him to receive Christ. This is just a small taste of what the Lord has been doing this week! All glory, honor, and praise to Him alone who is worthy!

“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.” Psalm 34:8

Our team went to see the witch doctor this afternoon. Please pray for his salvation that he and his family would give their lives to Christ! Please also pray for the new believers that they would pour into the word, seek their Savior, and to surround themselves with a cloud of witnesses. Also please pray for Team B as their village is very resistant to the Gospel. Pray for our doors and open hearts to hear and receive Jesus Christ!
Story by Lauren Lawson

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

God's mercy at work in Assela

From the moment I woke this morning I knew this day was going to be special. The Holy Spirit had given me such a peace. As we sat in church this morning before we went out into the field the Lord laid on my heart John 3:30 “He must become greater; I must become less.” Then my mind was taken to 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 where Paul reminds us that it is in our weakness that God makes us strong. This was such comfort to me as I knew that this was a promise from God. It didn’t matter how nervous I was or how much I fumbled in sharing with the Ethiopians, God would be there. And He was!!

I met a man today who told me that He wanted to believe in God but he couldn’t because of so many difficulties in his life. He went on to say he was a bad man and that he was afraid to die. My heart broke. But as I shared the Gospel with him, you could almost see the weight being lifted from his shoulders. The Holy Spirit was working. The moment that I finished sharing he said that he wanted what I had told him. So He accepted Jesus Christ as His Savior. YES!! I had to turn around to hide the tears that were forming in my eyes. God had used ME…a sinner, so unworthy. This broken man left with a new confidence that he would enter the Kingdom of God despite his past. He now has the comfort that God promises us even in life’s most difficult circumstances.

I wasn’t prepared for what we would encounter next. One of the Ethiopian women that we had spoken with said that her daughter was very sick. We asked if we could go to her home and pray for her daughter. So three of us followed this woman to her home. Inside this dark, tiny (maybe 12 X 7SF) mud home, we found a beautiful girl in her 20s lying on a mat on the floor. She spoke to our translator to explain that her kidneys had failed and the doctors told her to go home to her mother because she only had days to live. We had an incredible opportunity to pray intimately with her and her mother. I was overcome with emotion. As we got into our van to leave all I could do was sob. We are so blessed in America with the privileges (i.e. healthcare, medicine, even a bed) that we have. Even the poorest in our country have infinitely more than this girl. But I have to praise God in the fact that she is now a Believer in Christ. And even though her life is likely coming to an end so soon, the life she will have in heaven will be far better than anything on this earth. It's difficult to understand why things like this happen but we were able to see God use the sickness of this young girl to bring her mother to a relationship with Christ. Chances are her mother would not know the Savior if that had not happened.

There were lots of tears today…tears of humility, joy, sorrow, and gratitude. But in the end, God worked in the hearts of the Ethiopians and even our hearts in a way that I pray I’ll never forget.
Story by Claressa Norrell

The health of our team is great. Everyone is healthy & feeling well. God is opening up doors to share of his mercy & grace. PLEASE PRAY FOR:

• Continued good health
• Unity with north Americans & Ethiopian team
• Muslim hearts open to the message of Christ
• Discipleship & follow-up visits as we start to spend more time with people who have professed Christ

Monday, July 26, 2010

1st day of week 2

We couldn’t be more grateful for how the Lord has provided for us and our team and has gone before us and answered many, many prayers already! We will try and summarize a few:

- For protection and team unity. Praise God that our entire 2nd team and those that stayed from the 1st team are all free from illness. Yesterday we split up into four teams of five people each, and partnered up with two Christian Ethiopian translators and two Ethiopian Disciple Makers, who will follow up and visit with those that want to know more about Jesus Christ and His Word once we leave Friday. Yesterday and this morning we worshipped all together, Americans and Ethiopians, praising God for His love and asking Him to move the hearts of the people of Ethiopia. We sang all together, first in Amharic song, “Del-bah-del, en-nah ned-da-len…” then an American song, “You are Lord of Lords, you are King of Kings, You are Mighty God, Lord of everything…” Praise God for the oneness He has allowed to form so quickly!

- For God to prepare the hearts of those we will meet. Prepare the hearts of the people in first house, the young man Debale who came to know the Lord today. Debale possesses many leadership qualities and can be a great influence for many others. We are going back to the people of this first house as well as to see Debale and the people he wants us to meet. Gamarehu had a dream the night before that God was sending white people to come visit him! At this house were immediately received with great kindness. We were invited into the home of the community leader chief’s house and were served spicy hot bread which had been prepared for a celebration that happens every 8th year. As we left the house the Lord stirred many people to continue to follow us to which we were able to share the Good News to which it was received.

- For God’s mercy to help them hear His call on their life (Romans 11:29). After lunch we went to a second house which we were able to have the opportunity to share our faith with a young man and his sister and brother Birkay and Tesfah, whose names mean “wonderful” and “hope” in English. Four people in this house prayed to receive Jesus Christ as their savior.

- For God to send someone to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light. At our third and final house for the day our team shared the gospel and numerous stories from God’s word with a women whose husband is a witch doctor. By the end of this meeting, she said that the house that was formally used for the worship of snakes and other things would be used to worship Jesus.

The Lord continues to amaze us with how He can use sinful people l to bring people to know the Creator of the Universe. Today was truly a humbling experience, but one that does not surprise us. God can move mountains, He can soften hearts in a matter of seconds with a simple smile and break chains of bondage in an instant as the Word is proclaimed.

One of the most powerful moments of the day was listening to our Christian Ethiopian brother, our translator Demeka, pray over a house that was very demonic (the witch doctor’s). Demeka comes to the Lord with boldness we have never heard. He truly beckoned and confidently pleaded with the Lord to destroy the strongholds of this household. Woe to us for our weak prayers. May we be challenged to ask God to truly unleash His power. Hebrews 4:16 “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Elizabeth and Andrew Johnson

• Continued good health for North Americans & Ethiopian team members
• Good weather that will allow us to maximize our time here
• Open hearts to the Gospel of Jesus Christ

Saturday, July 24, 2010


Quick update from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Our first team’s time here in Ethiopia has ended. They were an amazing team and God accomplished some extraordinary things through them. Continue to pray for them as they make the long journey back home.

Team 2 has arrived along with all of their bags (which is always an accomplishment in Africa). Many of them are bleary eyed as they had a tough time catching some sleep on the plane, so pray that they sleep well tonight in preparation for the week ahead. We will begin our journey back to Asela tomorrow after breakfast here in Addis and a short stop at Kaldi’s for some coffee. Thank you all for your continued prayers.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Team 1 Wraps Up

Good Afternoon,

Team 1 is back in Addis. All is well but the team is exhausted. Tomorrow they will go to an orphanage in the morning to play with and love on some kiddos, spend a couple hours shopping for souvenirs they might want to purchase and then they'll spend some time doing a trip de-brief and discussing re-entry.

Pray for the team as they visit the orphanage. It is tough to see so many children waiting for a home. They will cling to our folks as they soak up all the attention they can get. Pray for the children, that the Lord would provide a family for them.

Pray for the team as they prepare to come back home. It is definitely an adjustment. For some, it will be harder than for others. After what they have seen and experienced, it can be a challenge to come back to life as we know it here. While we know we are not meant to understand this world with its poverty, suffering, evil, hunger and children without parents we trust that one day the Lord will make it all right. As Team 1 may struggle with some of these thoughts, pray that the Lord will comfort them with a peace that surpasses all understanding. A peace that only he can provide.

Pray for safe travels for Team 2 and that that all of their luggage would make it. Pray for the Lord to continue working on the hearts of the people that they'll encounter and that their hearts will be open and receptive to the Good News they bring.

Thank you for your prayers and for checking in with us!