Tag: missions

Lives Changed in Ethiopia: Ours

This mission trip to Ethiopia has been a difficult one for those of us dependent on things considered luxuries here: electricity, running water, WiFi, traffic rules, etc. Well, you get the picture. Electricity comes and goes. There’s been mornings that we wake up to no running water. Great! And the WiFi… what can I say? It works smoothly for a while, and then suddenly, with no warning, it’s gone just as I’m about to send an important email. The roads are like the wild, wild west. And guess who wins? The donkeys. I’ve never seen so many donkeys in my life. In spite of all these challenges, albeit small ones when I’m reminded of the hard lives people endure here, this has been a most rewarding trip for everyone. 

Some of the team’s medical professionals gather during a busy day of work.

Two thirds of our team of 30 are health professionals. We have doctors representing diverse specialties (general surgery, plastic surgery, ophthalmology, OB/GYN, anesthesiology, pulmonology, ENT), dentists, a nurse practitioner, a PT, a doctor of public health, nurses, and wonderful support staff. They’ve been working tirelessly and seamlessly to meet the huge health demands of the Negele Arsi region. One thing that’s been so frustrating to our doctors is that so many of the cases that would be very treatable in the United States are not here because of lack of equipment and medication. As an example, one of the patients they saw was a man with a disfiguring growth on his jaw (due to chewing tobacco). After multiple surgeries and the right treatment this man could have a chance at a normal life. Not here. This thing will kill him. And he’s in his 20s. It’s a heartbreak to face these kinds of situations.

A newborn baby girl is admired by her parents and the doctor who saved her life.

On the other hand, our people are having a profound impact on so many people. One of our OB/GYNs stumbled upon a woman in labor. Things were not going well. He quickly assessed her situation and determined that the baby was in distress because something was wrong with the umbilical cord. He ordered the woman to be rushed to the OR for an immediate C-section. A little while later, a healthy and screaming little girl was born. Sure enough, the umbilical cord was in a knot and was tightening with every minute passing. Had they waited any longer the baby would have been stillborn. By God’s grace and mercy, our dear doctor saved the little girl’s life. You can imagine how thankful and joyful the parents were at the turn of events. They came so close to mourning a death instead of celebrating a new life.

Eye surgery patients wait to be seen by Dr. Jacob, who typically works in India.

There are countless stirring stories like this one. Some of the best come from Dr. Jacob Prabhakar’s (Eyes for India) 1,028 cataract surgeries. He returned this week for a quick follow-up visit on all his patients. Imagine hundreds of patients in line to see him. An amazing sight. The best part of the sight is the fact that they have sight. These people were literally jumping with joy because they could see again. Every consult was accompanied by lots of embraces and smiles. The most astounding thing about it is that all 1,028 surgeries were a complete success. Praise be to God.

Meanwhile, the preachers at our six sites are doing a phenomenal job. In our schedule, they were supposed to have Thursday nights off. Do you think that’s what is happening? Absolutely not! People want to hear the Word, and our preachers are like the Energizer bunny. In health and sickness (yes, we’ve had some sickness), they preach their hearts out. I sit in the back and am so blessed to hear their heartfelt messages. I was there when one of our preachers made an altar call. Stumbling from outside the church came forward a man. He heard the sermon outside because at most sites they not only have speakers inside the church but outside as well so that anyone within 300 yards can clearly hear the presentations. This Muslim man heard it all and came forward. Wow.

It’s the rainy season here in Ethiopia and that means it rains every day. Just when you think it’s going to be a beautiful sunny day with no rain, the rain comes. This muddies up the roads and makes movement very difficult. However, people keep coming. I preached one night at a site where people were under a large canopy and the stage was 30 feet away (also under a canopy) separated by open air (don’t ask me why it was done like that). Anyway, when I was preaching, there was a sheet of rain separating the people from me. No problem. They were there, and I preached away. 

One thing I’ve noticed is that when our preachers are done, the meeting is not quite over. The pastor or lead person stands up, and then here we go for another mini-sermon with a passionate appeal for a decision. Even though I don’t understand a word he says, I know exactly what he’s saying, and people are responding. Last night at least 25 people came forward at the little church I was visiting. God is good. 

I’ve been told that this coming weekend about 600 people will be baptized. 600! Amazing. Although I wish we could take credit for these souls, the credit goes all to Jesus and the faithful brothers and sisters who have been working in their community. God blesses where people witness. These baptisms will take place on the shore of picturesque Lake Langano. It’s going to be wonderful. Our cameras are ready.

Saved lives and saved souls. Yes, this has been a great mission trip. And, without a question the lives most changed have been ours, the missionaries.

Click here to read the first report from the Ethiopia mission trip.

Click to read the third and final update from the Ethiopia mission trip.

A Message of Hope for Ethiopia

It Is Written’s mission trip to Ethiopia is happening right now in the Negele Arsi area. We have 28 volunteers present with three more expected this weekend. The volunteers are split into two teams. One team works at the general hospital in Negele Arsi and the other conducts Bible presentations every evening at six different sites with hundreds of people in attendance. 

This amazing mission trip is the brainchild of Dr. Gohalem Felema, a pediatric cardiac anesthesiologist. Even though Dr. Felema practices in Jacksonville, Florida, she originally hails from Ethiopia and thus has a big burden for her people. A few years ago she approached It Is Written about doing a mission trip, but things didn’t quite line up. She didn’t give up until finally here we are in 2019. 

Ethiopia is a colorful country with breathtaking scenery. However, the most striking aspect of Ethiopia is the people. They are warm and kind but also very poor. I mean very poor. They survive through subsistence farming and commonly get around in carts pulled by donkeys or horses. The roads are a cacophony of pedestrians, trucks, three-wheeled vehicles called bajaj, buses, horse/donkey-drawn carts, and animals of all sizes that wander on the road with not a care in the world. Our driver has to slalom around all of that to get to our destination. Quite an adventure.

The needs of this country are great, especially health-wise and spiritually. Thus, our trip is facilitating something people desperately need. Under the careful care of Dr. Felema, doctors, nurse practitioners, nurses, physical therapists, health educators, and support staff are busy working at the hospital. Two of our doctors have already done several interesting surgeries. Meanwhile, eight of our other volunteers open God’s word every night and preach the everlasting gospel. People walk to the meetings and are blessed to be given a message of hope. Many of these people are planning to be baptized.

It’s the rainy season right now in Ethiopia. Rain is something this drought-prone country desperately needs. As you can imagine, however, rain can negatively impact the attendance at our nightly meetings. So, we’ve been praying as a group for rain except during our meeting times. And that’s exactly what’s been happening: Rain except during our evening meetings. As a matter of fact, at one of our outdoor meetings the rain did not start until the preacher had said “amen.”

I should also mention that as part of our mission project in Ethiopia, Dr. Jacob Prabhakar, the Eyes for India ophthalmologist, spent a week here with his team earlier this month. He did 1,028 cataract surgeries in a span of five days. One of those surgeries was particularly moving. Dr. Jacob operated on a nine-year-old girl who was born with congenital cataracts and had never seen her parents. Dr. Jacob described with emotion the moment she saw her parents for the first time. Powerful.

Please keep the It Is Written team in your prayers. The final day of the mission trip is July 20. We have another week to go. May God use us in a powerful way to draw people to Him.

Click to read the second update from the Ethiopia mission trip.

Click to read the third and final report from the Ethiopia mission trip.

God’s Marvelous Acts

God's Marvelous Acts title picture

Here are six short stories from our mission trip to Pretoria, South Africa.

Eavesdropping Custodian

Pastor Justin Lyons’ nightly presentations were heard by a person he was not even aware was present: the custodian of the church where the series of meetings were held. Outside in the shadows, the custodian sat, listened, and learned. His heart was so moved that on the night when Pastor Lyons invited people who wanted to be baptized to come forward, he stepped into the church and came forward. I guess some eavesdropping is actually very good.

Found Purse

One of our volunteers took a taxi to run some errands. Unbeknownst to her, her wallet fell out of her purse while riding the taxi back to the hotel. This is a story that had the potential to have a very costly and stressful ending. However, God preserved the wallet from being found by the wrong person. The next person to ride that very same taxi was none other than another member of our evangelism team. God is good.

John preaching to a crowd at night

Balcony Audience

Pastor John Bradshaw’s meetings were held outdoors in a park surrounded by apartment buildings. Hundreds of people from the community attended every night. The best thing, though, was seeing people with their windows open or standing on their balconies listening to Pastor Bradshaw preach. Can’t beat a location like that. 

 

Christ’s Method

A wonderful Christian writer wrote: “Christ’s method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Savior mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, ‘Follow Me.’” Two of our volunteers did just that. First, they went to grocery store and bought bags full of groceries, and then began to deliver food to poorest of the poor in a squatter community. The response of the people was: “No one has ever done that for us,” followed by some joyful spontaneous singing and dancing.

Powerful Prayer

Our video projectors have American plugs. In order to use them in South Africa, we had to purchase an adapter. When Donna, one of our volunteer preachers, plugged in her video projector, the adapter started to spew sparks. She immediately pulled it out from the outlet and wiggled it to make sure that it was properly connected. Then she plugged it again but it did the same. Without the adapter, no sermon slides. Disaster. So, Donna invited everyone present to pray with her. According to a witness, it was one of the most powerful prayers he ever heard. As soon as she said “Amen,” she plugged the adapter in the outlet again and NO problem. The presentation went forward without any more glitches. However, once the presentation was done, the adapter quit working again. Don’t tell me God doesn’t take care of little things too.

Get Help! 

Our medical team has seen hundreds of patients. Though limited in what they are allowed to do, they are still doing an amazing job. Case and point is the young man who came to our makeshift clinic in a poor section of Pretoria. After listening to the young man, the doctor did a quick exam and discovered that his cervical, axillary, and inguinal lymph nodes were swollen, firm, and non-movable. A strong sign that this dear man had cancer. The doctor passionately recommended that he get help at the hospital immediately. Before letting him leave, the doctor prayed with the man, connecting him to the Great Physician.

Doctor prays with patient

Dr. Martin Kelly prays with a patient after an examination. Health clinics were held in addition to multiple preaching campaigns as part of It Is Written’s mission trip to Pretoria, South Africa.