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Friday-Sunday

Forgive the slow nature of my report on this - it was a wild ride the last couple of days.

Friday morning, we got up and left to make the 3 hour drive back to Nairobi.  At home, the trip might be about 2 hours (about the same distance as to Abilene) but the roads and traffic in Kenya make it longer.  The best part was the company in the truck with me.  Trena and Jim Mroczko are some serious rock stars!  I tried to think of someone I would drive 3 hours to pick up, drive them 3 hours back home and then repeat that less than 48 hours later - I could name only a couple.  I'm deeply grateful for their kindness and their hospitality.  Their work at His Cherished Ones Children's Home is amazing.  There's a solid reason we at FBC partner with them.  I can promise you they are doing some incredible work.  In Keyna, sadly, it's not uncommon for babies to be abandoned.  It's happened at least 89 times in the last 10 years since they were formed.  With a staff of 20, His Cher…

Wednesday and Thursday - Nairobi

Now that was an extraordinary day!When I got up Wednesday in Adama, it was our last day of the conferences.We had a good crowd and the spirit of the meeting was strong as we started.Today was the day we were doing a crash course in basic systematic theology.My assignment was to lay the ground work for the discussion and begin the conversation with a discussion of the doctrine of God.I took more time than was allotted to me – I’m not proud of that – but a good portion of that was answering questions and discussing how this applied in their daily life and service to the church and their people.It was time well spent.I’m pleased at the questions they were asking.Clearly, they have sharp minds – they just haven’t really taken the time to challenge themselves mentally.Or maybe they’ve never had the opportunity.Or maybe this WAS their opportunity and they were eager to have it.At any rate, they were eager and willing students and I was deeply grateful for the opportunity to talk with them …

TUESDAY - my last full day in Ethiopia

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Our pastor / church leader conference took a turn today.  Whereas yesterday we talked with our NGO and governmental friends about leadership principles in general while referencing Jesus and the Bible, today, the Bible was our textbook and Jesus our instructor on leadership principles expressed in the church.  We took a deliberate and passionate look at how our leadership is a direct result of our views of Christ and his leadership in our lives.  We looked at Nehemiah, one of the most famous and passionate leaders in Scripture.  We tied Jesus and Nehemiah together in parallel to express commonalities and to give us aid in leading our people.  Most of all, we took express care to indicate Jesus is a SERVANT leader.  I was surprised how that was reflected in the eyes of our friends here.  While they acknowledge Jesus as the servant leader, they struggled to come to terms with how to express that in a very top-down culture such as theirs.  With great love and care, we walked through more…

MONDAY - Day 3

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After a restful night and an early call from a very vocal and determined rooster to start the day, we launched the first of three conferences today. Today's was designed for those who were in leadership in any area - govermental, social, religious or just WANT to be a leader.  We embraced them all.  With the help of 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative and Dallas Baptist University, we provided each participant with a certificate of completion.  That may not sound like a big deal to us in the US, but trust me it was to those who received it.  I've learned through other trips that such a certificate helps reinforce the seriousness of the subject matter.  Enough intro - let's make with the pictures. 

The banner you see is the official name of our event for the week, despite the diversity of our plans.  Our intention was to influence and train leaders today of all shape and sort.  We had somewhere between 200-300 crammed into a room far too small for that many.  Add to that pro…

Sunday in Ethiopia

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Sunday is easily my favorite day of the week.  As a pastor and a shepherd, it's the day I get to share with God's people what I've been working on and the day I get to see the people I love so dearly.  Even though I'm 8,000 miles from home, today was no different.  That's what some people don't seem to understand - the body of Christ isn't limited by continents, languages or even denominations.  All we need is each other to share our walk with.  Walk with me through today in these pictures. 

We started the day with a church Watch and Pray (the ministry we are here with) to help plant.  Just about 25 KM from Adama, the church is in Waldaa, a very poor village.  That's the church family pictured to the side.  They were THRILLED to have the
chance to show off their building and to have a visitor from America to share the morning with.  The music pastor - squatting down in the center - stepped up his game today.  I preached on John 9 - the man born blind a…

My first trip to Africa

When I was a kid, Africa was a dark and mysterious place with lions, gorillas and snakes.  Or so I was told.  What I wasn't told is how incredibly beautiful this place is.  We landed in Addis Ababa around 7 AM and got through customs pretty well.  I was shocked to see how many people were checking flat screen TVs in as luggage.  That's an odd choice, I remember thinking.  Then, when I got here, I could see why.  While there is commerce everywhere, there is little in the way of electronics for availability.  Lots of tuk-tuks (they call them "Baragae"), lots of push carts, lots of donkey / horse carts - and that's just in the city.  Unfortunately, I fell asleep on the ride from Addis to Adama - a by product of not having enough rest on the plane and finally finding a comfortable spot (don't misunderstand - the flight was fine and the seat I had was business class so I'm not complaining - they just don't build things for normal sized people like me.)  Wh…

Leaving for THE trip

Last year, right before I was diagnosed with cancer, I had a wonderful invitation to join a pastor training conference in Ethiopia.  After I was diagnosed, I had to bail.  Before I did, however, my friend Getaneh told me, "When you're over this, we'll get you to East Africa."  Tomorrow morning, I'll find the truth of his prophecy. 

I'm leaving tomorrow on a 2 week trip.  On this trip, I'll visit Ethiopia, Kenya and Lebanon.  Following the example of the Apostle Paul, I'm going to encourage and equip churches and their leaders, to see our mission partners in action where they serve and to be encouraged.  I'd be lying if I said the trip didn't intimidate me a little.  I stacked it this way because of the vicinity of these partners and the cost-effectiveness of making one trip instead of three.  It SEEMED like a good idea.  Now, the night before I leave, the idea of being away from my family and my church family for 2 weeks seems daunting.  I'…