April 26, 2007

Ethiopia (4) - A Few Pictures

Hello one last time from Ethiopia. This morning I finished the last of the training sessions. The church-planter trainees got about 40 hours of Bible teaching...and the Bible School students got about 20 hours. I hope it was faithful teaching and that the Lord will bless our efforts. There will be seven more of these two-week sessions (covering different material) over the next 18 months. Pray that the men would continue to return for the training and that many Christ-centered churches would eventually be planted in the unreached regions of this vast country. Pray also for stamina for Anthony and Amber as they continue to organize, host, and support in many other ways.

Thank you for all of your prayers. Scott and I leave Friday at 3:30pm ET...and both arrive in our respective cities around 3:30pm ET Saturday. Please pray for safe and uneventful travels.

When I return to the world of high-speed internet (this post has been 90 minutes in the making!!), I may put up a few more pictures for your viewing...

Church Planting Trainees - the Last Day of Teaching

Tonight's Dinner

My Between Classes Pit-Stop - A Glass-Bottled Pepsi for $0.40

April 22, 2007

Ethiopia (3)

Hello again from Addis Ababa! Today we have a much needed sabbath rest. This will be the only day off in an eleven day span...and the LORD has already made it extremely helpful. This morning we attended the International Evangelical Church here in Addis. There are roughly 40 nationalities represented in the congregation. The message this morning was from 1 John 1.5-2.2, and was preached by a young German man. It was EXCELLENT. Scott and I both said that we felt like the Lord spoke through him. I felt particularly helped as he spoke about walking in the light. He pointed out that confession brings a little shame and pain, but hiding sin eventually brings great shame and pain. Confession and walking in the light brings great freedom. This message alone has made this Lord's Day exceedingly worthwhile.

The teaching here continues to go well. The men are asking good questions...and we have been able to deal very quickly with the false dichotomy between Old and New Testaments that I mentioned in the previous post.

Two more items for prayer:

1. Some of the Christians here have an inaccurate (and detrimental) view of sin. Much personal sin is blamed on the devil because there is an insufficient understanding of the doctrine of the human sin nature. We have been able to combat this some already and probably will have more occasion to do so next week.

2. Many of the questions yesterday related to sexual ethics. Because of the pagan background that sill lingers here (especially out country), there are many problems with sexual ethics/divorce/polygamy in some of the churches and villages. pray that we will be faithful to explain the biblical teachings on these subjects...and point people to he Savior for adulterers (see John 8) through these difficulties.

April 18, 2007

Ethiopia (2)

Hello again from Addis Ababa. Today we completed our 3rd day of teaching. In the mornings I am teaching 9 Bible college students...and the number of students who showed up for the church plater training (PTI) has been 83...even more than were expected! The men have been very hungry for God's word. The translation has been excellent. And we have been in no short supply of good food...including sweet tea and Mountain Dew!

The city of Addis Ababa is an amazing place! People, people everywhere. Most of them are quite poor. Very few speak English. And there are not many Christians. Even more exiting that we are getting to train around 90 men for the gospel ministry!

Let me tell you what God did yesterday. As I was opening my notes to teach, I realized that Tobey had stuffed a few pictures of the kids in my bag. So, finding the pictures just before class, I showed them to my students. It wasn't until I had begun the message that I realized I had included an illustraton in the message about how people love to show off pictures of their children! But it was one of the (many) illustrations I wasn't sure would have computed in Ethiopian culture. It probably would not have, but...since those pictures were in my bag, and I showed them off, they got it! I really sensed that God was behind the message!

A prayer item...

The men here (some of them) are confused about the nature of God. Some of them seem to think of the God of the Old Testament as a God of judgment, and the God of the New Testament as God of mercy...as thought there were two different Gods! Scott and I are having to really be dilligent, careful, biblical, and consistent in refuting this mistake. Pray that we would.

I'll try and update you again this weekend.

April 15, 2007

Ethiopia (1)

Hello all. Scott and I arrived safely last night. The flights went amazingly well, and we had some good time to rest and talk on the plane. Scott was able to sit next to and encourage a new believer from Indiana.

Today we attended the English-speaking international church here in Addis Ababa. ost of the members are international diplomats (I've been told Addis has more embassies than any city in the eastern hemisphere), a few Ethiopians, and some missionary families. The rest of the day we've have had good time to rest, catch up with the Mathenias, and dream about the future of their work in Ethiopia.

Please continue to pray for us. I begin our teaching sessions tomorrow at 1:30am ET. Each week day for the next two weeks will consist of me teahing the Sermon on the Mount at 1:30am ET and again at 7am ET. Scott will be teaching the Doctrine of God each day at 2:30AMET. So, for a few of you night owls, or West Coast dwellers...pray for us during those times. And the rest of you...pray whenever you get a hankering!


April 9, 2007

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Thank you all so much for your prayers and financial support (we raised the full amount and more!) as I embark for Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. For the next two weeks, (4/13-4/28), Scott Duley and I will have the privilege of teaching the Bible to seventy-two pastors-in-training. These men are preparing to be sent out, two-by-two (in another couple of years) to plant 36 churches in totally unreached areas of Ethiopia!

Given my gifts (and my limitations), I can scarcely imagine a way for me to be more effective in the cause of global missions than the one God has given me. I get to use the gift for methodical teaching that I believe God has given me (and the Sermon on the Mount series which I preached at PRBC in 2005)…but I get to use that gift to train men who know the Ethiopian language and culture, and thus will be more effective at getting the good news to the unreached people of Ethiopia than I could ever dream of being! I cannot wait to get home and fill you in on what God will do with two American boys from the Deep South and seventy-two Ethiopian pastor trainees!

I wanted to write and give you a few prayer requests…
  • How can you pray? Good question! Answer: Specifically! So, how can you pray specifically?
  • Pray that all our travel plans would work out well (we only have an hour layover in Frankfurt!).
  • Pray that if said plans don’t go as we expect, that I’d handle it with patience!
  • Pray that our bodies would react well to the altitude (7,000 ft.) and the native food, etc.
  • Pray we’ll get adequate rest after the jet lag.
  • Pray for stamina…I’ll be teaching six hours a day.
  • Pray that I will walk closely for the Lord for these two weeks…spending time feeding my own soul daily on His word.
  • Pray for the translator, Haileyesus. He’ll be translating my lectures for about half the group.
  • Pray that the lectures would be clear and helpful to these men.
  • Pray for the men themselves…that God would give them clear minds and hearts as we study together.
  • Pray for Amber and Anthony as they host us and handle a ton of logistics for these two weeks.
  • Pray that these seventy-two men would get many souls when they are finally sent out to preach the gospel and plant churches in unreached areas.
  • Pray that the Lord Jesus would be glorified in the way we teach, act, and interact with the people.
  • Pray we make it back safely and on time!
I will be periodically (maybe 4-5 times) updating the blog while I am away. This will keep you informed on the most up-to-the-minute (as WLW says it) prayer requests. Blessings in Jesus...

April 5, 2007

Another Ethiopia Update

So far, we have collected $2741.00 for the Pastor's Training Institute this April! Several churches and individuals have also already forwarded money for the next round of training, to happen in May and June!

Thank all of you...and Thank YOU faithful Jesus!

April 2, 2007


For three weeks we've been studying the book of Ruth in this little column. And in each of the three main characters, we have noticed a foreshadowing or reminder of the coming Savior. But we have yet to notice the primary way this little short story points forward to Jesus.

In the Old Testament, God made careful provisions for how a widow was to be cared for—particularly one who had no male children. Since women in ancient times were very hard-pressed to earn a living, this was a stroke of pure mercy from the LORD. The plan went like this: When a man died, leaving behind a wife (and no sons to care for her and continue the family name) his closest male relative (usually, but not always, a brother) was obligated to take the widow as his wife, care for her, and raise a family with her to keep his brother’s name alive. This closest male relative was called the “kinsman redeemer” (“closest relative” in the NASB).

This is what Ruth chapter 4 is all about. Ruth was childless and had been widowed. She had now way to provide for herself (thus she is in the fields picking up stray kernels of grain in chapter 3). She also had no son to keep her husband’s family name alive. But she had come back to her husband’s home town. Surely there would be a kinsman redeemer in Bethlehem who could take her in and raise up children in her husband’s name. And guess who that closest relative happened to be? Boaz—the man who had already showed her such kindness in his fields! God moves in a mysterious way!

Boaz was the kinsman redeemer! Boaz was the one man who had the authority and ability to redeem Ruth from her distresses. And in this sense, he is an amazing reminder for us of Jesus, our Redeemer. Sin has left us as destitute spiritual widows. We cannot rescue ourselves. We have no lasting inheritance. And Jesus Christ is the only one with authority and ability to pay the necessary price to redeem us from our spiritual widowhood! And He has done it! On the cross he paid the redemption price; He betrothed us to Himself; and He is, in heaven, preparing a wedding feast and a house for His beloved bride!

So Boaz is another tiny Old Testament arrow pointing us forward to Jesus! He redeemed Ruth. And through Ruth, he redeemed her mother-in-law, Naomi. But in a much greater sense, Jesus has redeemed His bride! So let it be said of Christ as it was of Boaz:

Blessed is the LORD who has not left you without a redeemer today, and may his name become famous in Israel (Ruth 4.14)!