My grandpa Memere Bete is now 87 years old. He has so many amazing stories to share. In my recent trip to Ethiopia, I got to visit him in Tegulet.
Memere Bete is committed to his priesthood at Saint Mary Church, where he served from the age of 16. He reads his Psalms in Geez every day. This time since his eyes are failing, he reads the Psalm and the New Testament from memorization. He had a mobile phone long time before electricity reached his house. He loves talking with my mom and us on the phone.
My uncle Fisseha and his wife, Mulu.
Fisseha is a full-time farmer. He was busy working on his field when we arrived to see them. It was a great joy to spend some time with them. And I have a huge respect for how they work hard to live life.
Shiro and Kolo
I enjoy taking friends to nearby Ethiopian restaurants in Orlando. Selam is my favorite. After a delicious dish, I usually get asked what Ethiopian dessert options are? We have a choice of roasted barley, popcorn, and coffee. Sorry, we don't offer a movie, though. Lol
In my grandpa village, I was served with Kolo (roasted barley and wheat) with coffee. Desta, my cousin, prepared delicious Shiro stew and she was making calls on the phone. It's humbling to imagine life with them. I was fascinated by how mobile phones is changing our lifestyle from metro cities to villages.
Thank you for your time!
Have you ever encountered God changing your worst day into a beautiful message or event? I have seen that many times. One day in 2014, I was in the Nairobi airport transiting from a trip was processing a difficult personal rejection experience. I was having the loneliest moment of my life despite the crowd around me. Two godly men came and introduced themselves to me. In my pain, I was not the mood for talking but answered some of their friendly questions about my life and what I do. Right before their departure, one of them left me his business card. Later I added them to my newsletter list and learned that they are from Kansas State.
Three years later, as I visited my family in the Kansas City area, I got a chance to meet the two guys and their church missions leaders in Wichita Kansas. I discovered that the Eastminster church in Wichita has been praying for East Africa for a number of years and they send a missions team there. Over time they accepted me as an answer to their prayers for East Africa and started supporting and praying for my ministry. On top of that, on my first trip to see them, I had an amazing experience that led to it being featured on www.cru.org.
Since then, every year I spent a weekend sharing God's stories and His goodness with the Eastminster family in Wichita. The following pictures were taken from speaking to different groups there this past weekend.
God is awesome! He changed my pain and rejection into a memorable and loving experience. I am very thankful for you. I am thankful for the last ten years of ministry with Cru with you on my side.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving season!
We just had great Indigitous hackathon events in 42 cities worldwide. This was the third time Indigitous hosted a global collaboration to create locally relevant digital tools and solutions to help fulfill the Great Commission.
My friend Russ Martin and I had the privilege to be at two African locations, Lagos and Accra, with a vibrant, smart Indigitous tribe. Collectively, these two cities worked on eight locally relevant projects.
Russ and I encouraged participants on casting vision for Indigitous communities in West Africa, teamwork, and leadership skills as well as praying together for God to move. We know that there is no digital mission without the Power of the Holy Spirit, just like Bezalel and Oholiab were anointed by God to do some creative innovation way back in the Old Testament (Exodus 36:1-2).
These were some of the projects we worked on during the weekend in those two locations.
Read full story on Indigitous.org
As I was entering the Uber car, I was welcomed with a question, “Are you Indian?”
I replied, “No, I'm Ethiopian.”
He answered, “Ok, you look Indian.”
I had mixed emotions how to go further in the discussion. But the driver kept talking. “So what do you do?” he asked.
I said, “I work for a Christian organization, and I live in Orlando.”
“Oh, that's good. I used to have a Brazilian friend, and he is a pastor and travels around the world preaching the gospel.
Tell me what exactly you do?” he continued to question me. “I'm Indian.” He glanced back to me.
Then I opened my phone and started playing the Jesus Film in Hindi. He then pulled out an audio cable and handed it to me to connect it to the car. The video started playing loud and clear.
He started smiling and repeating the words in Hindi. I played three clips, including the video with an invitation to receive Jesus Christ. He said he liked it, Jesus is like one of the gods in India, and that he is a good person. He explained how Jesus helped poor people and I explained more to him about the gospel.
After a few minutes, I reached my destination, and he needed to pick up another passenger. He quickly gave me his phone and said, “Get me the app.” I helped him download the Jesus Film app on his iPhone, and I encouraged him to watch the clips again. All this happened in less than 30 minutes during my Uber trip!
Read Part 1 here
Recently, I used Uber quite a lot to navigate in the Boston area. I had some wonderful gospel conversations with Uber driver Hakim (not his real name*). Hakim is from Sudan.
Hakim* was my Uber driver in the morning as I was heading to the MIT graduation. We started talking about general stuff, and he asked me what I do for work. I told him about my job.
He got interested when I mentioned the words “good news” when talking about myself. So I shared with him how to know God personally. He then said, “Well, Jesus was just a prophet.” I let him tell me more about his Muslim background. He said he is fasting as it's now Ramadan.
I explained to him that Jesus was different because he claimed to be God, predicted his death and resurrection and rose from the dead three days later. I said, “If this is true, it must be a big deal. What do you think?” Hakim replied, “Well, I need to explore more. You know, but how could Jesus be God, though he is just a man?”
“I read in your Qur'an, ‘Jesus formed a bird out of the clay.’ What character can you draw from that?” I asked Hakim. “Well, he created a living creation,” Hakim said.
I told him, “Though the Qur'an says a lot of things about many things, some of the things which talk about Jesus really need more in-depth research.”I encouraged him to read the Bible and install the Jesus Film app before I left his car.
Today it is one year since I moved to the US. Here are some highlights and lowlights of my time in the USA
Serving with you,
This is my second post about a trip I had to Lalibela. This Amharic video shows how pilgrims sing a song during Ethiopian Christmas celebration. Fast Forward to 1.06min to watch the song. Read my previous blog post ‘We need Philip again!’ here.
I was touched by their songs especially the words saying ነፍሴን አደራ መድሐኒዓለም ነፍሴን አደራ መድሐኒዓለም which means ‘Jesus take care of my soul …. Jesus take care of my soul (Savior of the world – Jesus). I am dropping some of the texts below in Amharic.
አረ እንዴት አድሮጎ ሰራው አረ እንዴት አድሮጎ ሰራው
ለመጥረቢያው እንኳን እጄታ የለው •••
ነፍሴ አገሯን አሳየዋት
ብቻዬን በልቼ ከላበላሻዋት
ነፍሴ አገሯን አሳየዋት
እንግዲህ ዓለም ምን ተሻለው እንግዲህ ዓለም ምን ተሻለው
ቅዱስ ላሊበላ ገብቻለው
አልጋ ባልጋ ነው መንገዱ አልጋ ባልጋ ነው መንገዱ
ቅዱስ ላሊበላ ቤ/ክ ልትስሙ ስትሄዱ
ነፍሴን አደራ መድሐኒዓለም ነፍሴን አደራ መድሐኒዓለም
ነፍሴን አደራ እመቤቴ ነፍሴን አደራ እመቤቴ
I heard the following poem somewhere else after my trip
እንግዲህ ዲያብሎስ ምን ትበላ
እኔ ገብቻለሁኝ ላሊበላ
Sometimes your random words becomes plans and your plans get to pass very quickly. During my last trip to the US, I was hiking at Sedona in Arizona with church friends from Bethany Bible Church. One of them, Dale told me he was planning to visit friends in Dubai. I told him that being in Dubai meant he was so close to Ethiopia that he could visit me as well. That random conversation become a reality from Jan 5-10. I am very thankful for Dale and Sue who trusted me and came all the way to Addis to spend time with me in Ethiopia.
You might wonder why Lalibela is important – here are a few discoveries I made. As a proud Ethiopian I was sharing and talking about Lalibela but have never been there before. My visit there caused a stir. On the one side I am inspired by the people who lived in my country in the 12th century who build such astonishing structures using only their hands. At the same time I returned back home with lot of questions and compassion for the people I encountered in Lalibela who are so desperate for righteousness and are very poor.
This is how Pilgrims Camp for Christmas in LalibelaI realized that I’m a Christian, and specifically an Ethiopian Christian. My country’s history affects me directly and indirectly. Lalibela was build with the motive to represent the second Jerusalem.
My visit to Lalibela made me
We arrived on the eve of Ethiopian Christmas and stayed in a beautiful mountain view hotel called Maribela. After we dropped our luggages and ate lunch we rushed to see the 11 rock hewn Lalibela churches which is one of UNESCO’s world heritage sites. Our first scene was at Bete Amanuel. This historical site was packed with thousands of pilgrims who were attending rituals and Ethiopian Christmas celebrations. The teaching priest was preaching from Matthew 25 about The Parable of the Ten Virgins. We listened to him for about 30 min as he shared about the gospel from the Bible.
The history and legend behind Lalibela as told by our guide: Our guide Gashaw gave us a long explanation about the person and king Lalibela. Lalibela means “Mar Yibla” literally translated “honey eater”. When Lalibela was born, bees surrounded the baby and his mom prophesied he will be a great king and named him “Lalibela” – honeyeater.
Background about the place from Wikipedia
Lalibela, revered as a saint, is said to have seen Jerusalem, and then attempted to build a new Jerusalem as his capital in response to the capture of old Jerusalem by Muslims in 1187. Each church was carved from a single piece of rock to symbolize spirituality and humility. Christian faith inspires many features with Biblical names –- even Lalibela’s river is known as the River Jordan. Lalibela remained the capital of Ethiopia from the late 12th into the 13th century.
Lalibela was killed by his own brother according to the legends through poisoning his food. This incident made a huge transition to Lalibela’s divine destiny. As he was poisoned, angels came and took his body to heaven. There he received a vision from God to build the rock hewn church. Gashaw said Lalibela was resurrected from the death. This is where the story is becoming even more amazing …
In hearing this, I started asking myself should I ask more questions to get more proof? Or shall I just believe what our guide was saying? There are many similarities between Lalibela and Jesus. For example, their birthdays are on the same day! I started asking if someone was trying to relate or equate Lalibela with Jesus or was this just a co-incidence?
My grandpa is a priest and he told me after my trip to Lalibela that anyone who goes to Lalibela will make his 7 generations be saved! It disturbed me that many people, like my Grandpa added such huge spiritual value to Lalibela, not checking it against Biblical truth. Our history is full of legends and some truths. This makes it very hard for people to understand the true meaning of Christmas and Christianity at large. If I could save my soul by just being in Lalibela’s churches, then Christ died for nothing. While visiting the Saint George church I encountered a group of ladies singing and it was touching. Sadly the many pilgrims visiting Lalibela consider it their soul destination.
In Acts 8, the Ethiopian eunuch encountered the Apostle Philip on his way home from Jerusalem. He was reading the book of Isaiah. Here is the story from the Bible on Acts 8
I believe we have men and women who should become the modern day Philip’s in Ethiopia. You and I! If you know Jesus Christ is the Son of God, we have to pray and ask God to use us to be bold enough and share the true meaning of the Gospel with our people in Ethiopia.
Would you join me?
Miheret T. Eshete