The Spirit continues in Hamer

Muga and Mala, two brothers from our church partner the Kale Hiwot Church, dropped by our house the other night for a bite to eat and to give us an update of some of the happenings in Hamerland. According to a fellow believer from Demika, one of the two main towns among the Hamer, a young mother from the mountain village of Buska, brought her daughter to a clinic in Demika. The girl, probably no more than three years of age, was covered from head to toe with large weeping sores and apparently had been for some time. The mother’s history of the sickness is quite bizarre by western standards nevertheless, she testified that the family worships a certain poisonous snake that is in fact resident in their home. One day the young girl became angered with the snake and threw a stone to chase the snake away. The snake in retaliation turned and spit on the young girl. According to the Mother, the first sores began to appear soon thereafter. The clinic staff in Demika were dumfounded upon seeing the sores and consequently gave her little hope of recovery from medicine. However, Hylo, wife of Halpa, a Hamer woman who’d been conducting Gospel outreach in Buska with her husband for the last few months came upon the hapless pair. After seeing the girl and hearing their story, she and several believers joined together and prayer over the little girl and within days her skin was renewed and all the sores were gone.
But wait that’s not it…Word of the little girl’s miraculous healing quickly spread throughout the area finally making it’s way to another hopeless Mother’s ears causing this woman to stare desperately toward heaven and asked for healing for the teeth of her young child who had recently been kicked in the mouth while milking a cow. The blow had badly damaged three front teeth which the mother feared losing. The losing of these teeth would constitute a curse from the local spirits and cause the community to label the child a “mingi”. “MIngi” children are often sacrificed for the benefit of the community to prevent other misfortune from visiting the group. The mother, believing the ill will of the spirits caused the event, thought that if the God that cured the little girl of sores could heal through the prayers of these strangers, then maybe he would also listen to the prayers of others as well. Amazingly, the child’s teeth were miraculously returned to normal and the woman in turn praised the God of heaven.
Like you, we were amazed at the stories above, and we praise our grace-filled God to continue to reveal Himself to the helpless and hopeless in similar ways. But we also pray for harvesters to be sent to follow up where God is working such miraculous signs. Our prayer is that disciples will be found and that from these followers will be made.

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Recently we took a trip to Buska to confirm some of the things that we’d heard from the area and to encourage those Jesus followers living there. Above is a picture taken outside the Buska Church and gathered in front are all of the new followers, evidence of the Spirit’s work there. Many of these Bunna men and women are from the family of the head elder in the area mentioned in our last blog. Please remember evangelist Johannes (front row, last on right, red pants and blue shirt) and his family. He has recently moved to Buska from Wolaita and is still struggling to learn the language. Pray for God to use him mightily to raise up strong disciples who will also disciple their neighbors in the way.

To His Glory,
Trent

Miracles among the Hamer

The Hammer of Southwest Ethiopia are a proud people, hardened by harsh climate and cruel customs. Similar to the Bunna in language and culture, they have always been very resistant to the life-changing message of the Gospel. Recently though, a season of change has been sweeping across Hamerland, marked by the Spirit of God moving among the people in miraculous ways.

Buska is a beautiful village situated high in the Hamer Mountains. The small village is home to a well known witchdoctor named Lotulja. Lotulja first heard the Good News from an evangelist that lived in the area several years earlier. But like many of his neighbors, he was not convinced of the need for the God of the Bible, choosing instead to pay homage to the unpredictable spirits of the Hamer people and mock the God of the evangelist. Disappointed by the lack of interest of the local people, the evangelist eventually left the area and the church gave up all efforts to reach the lost souls of Buska.

In the last few months, a team of zealous disciplers from the Turmi Kale Hiwot Church, decided to focus on Buska for their Gospel outreach. The team, headed up by Halpa, initially conducted a multi-day outreach in November 2013, making the witchdoctor and his family the focus of much of their witnessing. Late last year, Halpa and several others from his church, were trained in disciple making and church planting. After the training, God began speaking to Halpa and his wife Hylo about reaching out to the many hopeless Hamer men and women who have yet to hear the Gospel. Compelled by the Holy Spirit, Halpa loads up his Isuzu flat bed truck every month and heads out on yet another prayer-covered outreach to one of the many unreached villages that populate SW Ethiopia. It was through one of these outreaches that Lotulja was visited by Halpa’s team. However, for the first time in Lotulja’s life he was open to hear the message of the Gospel. After several days of contemplating the Good News, the witchdoctor finally admitted a need for God and a desire to submit to Him, but because of the pressure placed on him by the surrounding villagers to act as medium between them and the spirits, he turned down the offer to follow Jesus for a second time in his life. Dissappointed by Lotulja’s response and physically drained from several days of fasting and prayer in the hot African sun, Halpa and team left the area with little hope of returning.

A few days later, Lotulja became ill and seeking relief in his customary way he headed out to the bush to perform sacrifices and rituals to local spirits. This time however, his health failed to improve. Desperate for relief, Lotulja decided to seek outside help by heading to the zonal hospital in Jinka only to find out that his condition was untreatable. Sadly Lotulja, returned to Buska where he died from his illness a few days later. In response to Lotulja’s dying, the villagers in Buska were in an uproar attributing his death to the visit by the outreach team. Now everyone was filled with fear as they wondered who would act as medium between them and the spirit world to ensure their safety. After hearing of the death of the Lotulja, Halpa decided to return to Buska for a short visit, only this time he was overwhelmed by what he found. Unlike the initial visit, there was no unified opposition to be found. Some people were still vehemently opposed to the message, but for the first time, many were responding to the invitations to follow Jesus. The next week, the Bal abat (head village elder) asked Halpa to return to Buska to show him and his family how to follow Jesus. This time back in Buska, Halpa found dozens of villagers ready to forsake the old traditional spirit worship and turn to the living God. And with one voice, the whole community begged for a witness/evangelist to come and live among them to teach them about God and how to walk in His ways.

The Spirit of God is stirring hearts and opening eyes among the Hamer of Buska. Please pray that he will continue to do so. Please pray for just the right evangelist to be stationed in Buska to facilitate the teaching of scripture and discipling of new believers. Pray also that this movement of God would spread from hut to hut, village to village, and tribe to tribe so that thousands would come to follow the one true God.

Experiencing God’s favor in Awassa

Eric stayed back at the hotel praying for me this morning as I headed out to the MOWA. Within just a few minutes after arriving at the office I was whizzed upstairs to chat with the head of children’s affairs. Thankfully she recognized me right away and after a few greetings and small talk, I began telling Mrs. Simret the reason for my visit. After bumbling away with my nervous Amheric, Simret agreed to write the letter I needed and make a special phone call to the Federal MOWA to speak in favor of our case. Almost immediately the power went out which has delayed the letter. Nevertheless, I hope to pick up the letter after lunch and head back to Addis right away.
Continuing to walk by faith,
Trent

Court Date

Sometimes the favor of God is not immediately apparent in our circumstances. At least that’s what I keep telling myself this morning five hours South of Addis in the town of Awassa as I prepare to visit the regional MOWA office. Monday’s court date was a bust. And after visiting the MOWA office in Addis, I was told I needed two letters from the region, hence my visit to Awassa on Wednesday. Hopefully I can get the required documents today and return to Addis for a court date on Friday. In the meantime, I keep reminding myself that we walk by faith and not by sight. Your prayers are very much appreciated.
Trent

Sad News

I am sorry to report that Ababech went to be with The Lord today. Ababech was a bright lovely young woman in her mid twenties. Thankfully she knew our savior, yet we grieve terribly for her family and unfortunately we do so at a distance as we are still in Addis at least for another week. Thank you all for praying for her and please pray comfort for her mom and dad, Simpa and Bashi, and for her many brothers and sisters as well.
Trent

Urgent prayer requests

Tuesday Jan. 14 is our court date in Addis Ababa for Desta’s adoption. We are hoping for a miracle on this day. The court is charged with reviewing our documents and previous court decision and make a ruling for the National ministry of women’s affairs. The next step is for this same ministry to write a letter to the US embassy so that we can get Desta a US passport. After 15 months of struggling, please pray that God will grant our request for a miracle and give us immediate favor in both the courts and the Ministry of women’s affairs.
Please also pray for Abebech, the daughter of Shelo Inat (our house worker). She was involved in a car accident and has sustained a severe brain injury. Please pray for a miracle for Abebech and for her family as they gather bedside to pray and care for her.
Thanks,
Trent

Wedding Bells

Last week was a great week in our lives.  Hopefully it will prove to be a pivotal week in our role as a church planting mission as well.  The week was spent in Arba Minch with 35 missionaries from SIM and other partner organizations trying to launch a church planting movement across south west Ethiopia and beyond.  Like the CPM training held in Alduba back in July, this one too was taught by three Ethiopian bothers from City Team Int’l.  Simple and revolutionary were the two words used most often to describe the training.  Hopefully new thinking and practices will result in countless fruit during the next year.  As I follow up with each participant over the next few months, I’ll let you all know how it’s going.

Please be praying for the second module at the Turmi Tyrannus School of Missions beginning next Monday December 9 and running until the 19th.  We expect all of the original 33 students from the September training plus an additional 15 church leaders to gather for 10 days of worship, prayer, debriefing, sharing and learning.  I’ll try to write a blog from Turmi during the session.

Also, I travel to Addis during the middle of the training for four days to visit the US embassy to push things along on Desta’s adoption.  A prayer for favor would be much appreciated.

Finally, I leave you with a few photos of Jack and Lily at a friends wedding on Saturday.  The kiddos did such a good job. It’s so hard maintaining a smile during the long hours of wedding festivities and even more so when you’re front and center.  Nevertheless, they both performed beyond expectations and we are so proud of them.

Blessings,

Trent

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