Auburn CVF visit

To help us get the summer started off right, a team of 5 vet students from Auburn University joined us at the end of May.  Anticipating a very busy season, I contemplated cancelling on the short-term team originally. In hind site, I am so glad we didn’t, for it would have been a shame to miss the blessing we received from hosting this group.


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The Auburn team’s visit marks a change in the way we have always done short-term missions. In the past, we’ve looked at visiting short termers as a service to those wanting to experience Africa and rural missions with a possible view toward long-term overseas ministry. Rarely have we viewed visitors as a service or ministry to us. The biggest reason is probably the language barrier. We don’t live in a world where you can just send visitors off with local support. Instead we have to be present for visitors to hear and to be understood. This places us in a kind of tour guide role. This time however, was much different.

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6 months ago we started designing a chicken project based on the needs of the average Alduba chicken holder. Several months and many emails later the Auburn team arrived prepared to the gills with information on just about everything including but not limited to housing, feeding, breeding, and health care.

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Just one day after arriving, the team was off inspecting our facilities in hopes of making recommendation on how to improve our personal flock. Also, after visiting the chickens around Alduba, they were now ready to conduct training on day 2 with local chicken owners about basic chicken care.

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Another significant contribution of the Auburn team was the conversion of rabbit hutches into hen housing with a capacity for more than thirty laying hens.

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Finally, the team had the opportunity to helicopter to the bush and conduct a 2-day mobile veterinary outreach among the Nyangatom people.

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The Cox family owes a great debt of gratitude for all of the hard work this team put into preparing for their trip here. We’d like to thank Leslie Starnes, Amy Smith, Vanessa Barnett, Katharine Hilburn, and Drew Lowry. We’d also like to thank Dr Amie Johnson for helping them get prepared. Great Job!

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Saying Goodbye

Saying goodbye is never easy, especially when it means losing something, or in this case someone, who has been a blessing in your life.  Randal and Kimberly Bost took a great step of faith nine months ago, by placing their 19 year old daughter on a plane headed for the bush of Ethiopia.  In doing so, they helped make those same months for the Cox family a joy.

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Jack and Lily have grown a year older during Kallie’s time, but they grew a lot in maturity and wisdom during the time as well.  Kallie pulled no punches as she constantly challenged and encouraged our children.  Desta also found a dependable love in Kallie.

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Tabby and I were both challenged as parents and were greatly encouraged by the level of maturity displayed by Kallie in her commitment to her task as a teacher and as a follower of Jesus Christ.

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Tabby and I would like to thank all of our supporters that gave to help make Kallie’s mission experience possible and for praying for Kallie during her time in Alduba.

IMG_4233For Kallie our prayer is that she will be received well by her family and friends as she transitions back into her home culture, that she will find friendly listeners to help her process all that she has experienced, and that she will have a clear call about her future, a future we know will be filled with light.

Thank you Kallie Bost.  Be blessed.

Trip to South Sudan

The Road to ToritBack in April, an SIM colleague, Eric Odell, and I traveled to South Sudan to visit with government official regarding our work on the Ethio-Sudan border. The trip to S. Sudan was originally planned last fall, but do to the instability within country, was delayed until this opportunity arose. Eric and I were coming off an 8 day bike ride through Northern Ethiopia, so we weren’t exactly looking forward to the trip. However, Neither one of us could have anticipated such a God ordained visit.

After our arrival in Juba, we were met at the airport by an official from the East Equatorial State Animal and Fisheries department, who delivered us to an Ethiopian owned hotel for our first evening. Patrick, our host, invited us to supper where we spent the next couple of hours becoming acquainted. After supper, we spoke at length about the reason for our visit to which our host surprisingly invited us to engage in any way that might assist the Taposa people living along the Ethiopian border with South Sudan.

The following day we headed to Torit, the capitol of the EES. Our four-hour drive down the bumpy red dirt road to our destination took us across some beautiful grasslands reminiscent of the endless savanna of southwest Ethiopia. The country was oddly devoid of people, livestock or wildlife. In the few villages that we did pass, the farmers were using hoes to till the ground instead of oxen. People were literally hacking out an existence, wrestling every hard fought inch of ground right from the grasp of the disobliging wilderness.

Finally after arriving in Torit, we were taken directly to the AIM compound, where we were received warmly by Ray and Jill Davis. After having lunch with our hospitable AIM hosts, a vehicle returned to the compound to deliver us to the offices of the minister of Animal and Fisheries, where we talked once again about the details of our work along the border. To end the meeting, the minister suggested an MOU with SIM Ethiopia which would give us permission to cross the border in the future without acquiring a visa. Wow! This was the very thing we’d hope to gain by our visit to South Sudan, and we got it without actually having to ask for it. God’s favor was definitely upon us. After the meeting with the minister we returned to the AIM compound to spend the night with the Davis’. Our time with Ray and Jill also gave us an opportunity to share about how God is planting His church in our part of the world, and to brainstorm about opportunities for reaching the 700,000 unreached Taposa people.

The next morning after thanking the Davis’, we were again picked up by a government vehicle and taken to the residence of the Governor of the East Equatorial State. Like all of our other encounters in South Sudan, the Governor too was very welcoming and quite interested to hear about the nature of our visit. After hearing about our work, the Governor also extended to us an open invitation to conduct our work among the Taposa, inviting us to even fly the helicopter as far as Torit, some 500 km with the country. Eric and I were truly blown away at his invitation which could bring us so much closer to fulfilling our vision of planting churches among the Taposa.

In the end, I am not sure where this is all going to lead, but we’ll need to eventually make our way back to S. Sudan to perform a baseline survey of Taposa country. I am hopeful that this is the hand of God encouraging us to engage the Taposa as soon as possible. We will fly to the Border on May 26-28 with a team of veterinary students from Auburn to conduct a mobile clinic in Lorimor for starters. After that, we’ll see where God leads. Please pray for more of God’s favor as we seek permission from the Ethiopian Civil Aviation authorities to fly the helicopter into S. Sudan

Blessings, Trent

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