An amazing story from my time in Ethiopia
This was my (Luke) journal entry from December 6, 2011
Today was a life-changing day. We had a bite to eat and then hopped in the car and off-roaded 30 minutes down the path to the church where it all began. This tiny mud-walled and tin-roofed place was where God decided to begin a movement…..a profound movement of His Holy Spirit in an area with VERY FEW believers. It was an area of Ethiopia where the church struggled from persecution from their Muslim neighbors who consisted of over 90% of the population.
As we drove up the dusty road with potholes the size of me, I gazed in amazement that this tiny place was where this incredible movement of God began. If I was in the USA the first church plant would most likely be a massive structure, but not so here. I was intrigued and a bit bewildered. But, after spending just a few minutes in conversation with the men and women of this church, I realized that this tiny mud building is a center for evangelism for the nations. Thousands of people do not come to this building every Sunday to worship, instead you would only find around 80 people who use this building as a place for fellowship and the preaching of God’s Word. But…thousands of people are praising God every day all over the country and the world because of this tiny group of believers. They got it.
I met the pastor who was a tall man whose face literally showed that he had seen God. I will never forget his smile. In the last 10 years, over 10,000 people have come to faith in Jesus Christ through this small, materially poor group of Jesus followers. Does that sound familiar (Acts 2:42-47). You could clearly see that these people knew Jesus, walked with His Spirit and daily surrendered every part of their lives to the Father’s plan.
Hearing their story sent chills of joy down my back as they shared of the first Muslim convert to Christ in that area 10 years ago. This is how the movement began. The area was unreached with the Gospel so some believers decided to strategically go in and live intentionally among them to show the love of Christ. The vehicle that was used was simply taking a soccer ball to the nearby field to play football and use that to begin the relationship building process with the hopes that God would open a door to share the Good News with these people who only knew Islam.
After a few months, it was a 11 year old girl who left the emptiness of Islam behind and gave everything to Jesus Christ. Immediately after coming to faith, she began to tell everyone about Jesus. Within a few days, she had been beaten and then warned to not speak further about this Jesus. That didn’t work. Her life had been changed and she refused to shut up. So, within just a few days, she found herself kicked out of her village with her mother. She shook the dust off her feet and went to a different nearby village. Nobody knew Christ there either. So…she preached Jesus and, miraculously, a few hard hearts melted at the message of the grace and kindness of God making a way to Himself through the person of Jesus.
Now there were a few believers so they thought it would be good to do what the Bible teaches and meet together for fellowship and praises. They simply read the book of Acts and tried to do what they read. As the little 11 year old girl continued to live out the Gospel in front of her Muslim mother (who had left the village with her daughter) something happened. Her mother saw a heart change in her little girl and now she wanted a taste of the Living Water.
Before two years passed, 80 people were meeting and being sent out to make Jesus known. They got it! And it all started with one ball and one sports minister who told that one little girl about the One God who sent His one and only Son. And God transformed the country through it.
|Luke with the church leaders who were there when it all began|
What an honor it was to meet, listen, learn from, and pray with these people. I will never be the same. I long to see God do something like this in Malawi.