I can not believe I have been home for almost two weeks. My 5 weeks in Africa almost seem like a strange blurred dream looking back now. It is without question that this is an experience that has changed my life.
The film festival was so great! The films were wonderfully made and it was so wonderful seeing all of the campus track, film track, and our Ethiopian friends gathered together. We saw 12 people come to Christ that night! We left Addis not long after the film festival for one week of debriefing. Goodbyes were hard. We had to say farewell to the hotel staff, our translators, and our sweet friends Tarkue and Job. Saying goodbye to Addis was tough on the whole team and a time full of prayer. Debriefing was a relaxing time to evaluate project, spend time encouraging our team members, and prepare for the transition back home. We were lucky enough to stay in a beautiful part of Ethiopia and soak up as much of the country as we could before flying home. It has been great being home with friends, family, and good Southern cooking again, but I left a piece of my heart in Ethiopia. I miss the smiling faces, the rush of the unique city, and the conversations with my brothers and sisters in Christ. I have been in contact with Kafyelow. He is doing well and more passionate about Jesus than ever before. My precious team members are now spread throughout all the country and we’ve been intentional about staying updated on each others lives and praying for each other.
Our team was able to present the gospel to 356 people and witness 76 accept Christ during our 5 weeks.
God taught me so much in Ethiopia. He wanted me to trust and rely on Him like never before, but I’m stubborn and sinful and wanted the comforts of home not the comforts He offers. Time and time again He reminded me that what He has to offer is much better than what this world has to offer. He wanted me to spread His word in Ethiopia, but people are deceitful and selfish. Time and time again He reminded me that He changes even the hardest of hearts and controls every situation in every corner of the world. Serving the Ethiopian community was an amazing experience. It was shocking to be surrounded by a country full or religion, history, rich culture, and tradition and yet very few know what it looks like to have a personal relationship with God. It was beautiful to see firsthand people realize that God is not a church building, piece of clothing, or something you wear around your neck but that He is a real God who seeks us, forgives us, loves us, and guides us.
Thank you all for being with me every step of the way. Please let me know if you want to hear any more details of my trip and if you want to continue to prayerfully and or financially support Ethiopia.
PLEASE PRAY: 1. For the continued growth of Kafyelow’s love for God. 2. For the financial support of Ethiopia’s staff to be provided. 3. For God’s love for Ethiopia to shine in the darkness of poverty, sickness, and false religion.
Here is a video about the company FashionAble that I mentioned in a previous post that creates scarves and employs women in Ethiopia. You can order from their website!
I’m alive and well although I realize my blog updates most likely don’t reflect that! We finished our last day of ministry today and the week could not have been better. Sarah and I have been meeting with our friend Kafyelow everyday for discipleship. He is growing so much and eagerly reading his Bible. His passion is clear and my favorite part of the day is meeting with him. I was sad that today would be the last time I could disciple him, but I didn’t have time to even think about sadness because of the wonderful time we had during our daily meeting. He surprised us and brought his friend Kanan who he had been sharing with. Sarah and I were so excited to meet him. Kafyelow told us he had been meeting with Kanan and retelling him everything about God he had been learning. Kanan was a believer, but understood little about his relationship with God and God’s word. Sarah and I were so excited to talk to him about the gospel, Holy Spirit, and answer any questions he had. Kafyelow would also quickly jump in to clarify any subject his friend was confused about. I was so encouraged to see the fruit of discipleship occurring before my eyes! GOD IS SO GOOD. My team is so blessed. We came here with many of us praying for 6 months that we would see fruitful discipleship occur and God answered us with a “Yes.” Hopefully I will see Kafyelow and Kanan at the Film Festival tomorrow. The film track is slaving away finishing up their films and we’re so excited to view them at the premiere tomorrow night with the Addis community and have spiritual conversations about the films’ content.
The campus track has experienced even more blessings. My friend Joanie has been discipling a beautiful 19 year old woman who lives on the street. Her heart broke when she learned that Himuwit had been a prostitute in the past and still carried a lot of pain from that time of her life. It just so happened that the summer project girls met with an American family that moved to Addis to work for a company called FashionAble that partners with Women At Risk in Addis. FahsionAble finds women who were former prostitutes, puts them through counseling, then employs them to weave beautiful scarves. Joanie talked with the man who we bought many scarves from and he’s going to attempt to hire Himuwit. What a beautiful story!
In my previous post, I mentioned the team’s dear friend Tarkue. We’ve been seeing powerful things occur in his life recently. He and his friend Job have both accepted Christ and have been discipled by various members of the campus track. I had the privilege of going to his home and meeting his beautiful mother. His family follows the strict religion of the Greek Orthodox Church which emphasizes good works as the need for salvation instead of grace, and Mary as a mediator to God instead of Jesus. Today Joanie and Emilee went to visit his mother with a translator and shared the gospel with her. From what they told me, she responded with “I need time to think about this. I am aware of Tarkue’s decision to follow Jesus and I hope that one day I will join him.” What an encouraging day it was. God changes hearts! We have only two more days in Addis. We leave for a week in a more rural area to partner with a ministry and go through debriefing. I look forward to returning home and telling you all what God is doing here in this city and in my heart in even greater detail!
PLEASE PRAY: 1. For the Film Festival to be a success and great spiritual conversations to happen. 2. For the campus track’s disciples to be connected with Great Commission Ministries after we leave. 3. For Tarkue’s mother to accept Jesus as her Savior and not rely on good works as her connection to God.
Here are some photos I stole from my friend Lindsey. This is the majority of the team at the first night of briefing in Texas!
This is the entrance to the main campus of Addis Ababa University. Most of the conversations we have with college students occur very close to this location.
Lindsey and I with a few of the kids who live on the same street as the discipleship house we go to everyday. The team really enjoys seeing these faces and getting to know the kids and play with the younger ones.
This is Tarkue being goofy. He brings our team so much joy. We’re all going to miss this kid very much when we leave Addis.
This is all the campus track members from the UofA; so thankful for them! Andrew, Mason, Aaron, Lindsey, Kaylie, Me, Emilee, Joanie, and Megan.
Salam friends and family! I can not believe I have been in Ethiopia for almost two weeks now. This trip has already had so many ups and downs and I have been challenged and am growing in ways I never imagined. We started our ministry on Monday officially. My ministry partner is Sarah; she’s from Southern Mississippi University and has become such a great friend. We work alongside our translator Huwit. She is an Ethiopian college student and is such a sweetheart and has a strong passion for the Lord. Honestly, ministry has been very exhausting. I was not aware before working in Ethiopia that many people claim to accept Christ to receive benefits from the American missionaries. Often when sharing the gospel the first thing you hear after someone “accepts” is them asking for money or insisting you buy them a Bible. Bibles are very expensive and can be bought and resold for profit almost anywhere. The first few days were hard. I was so discouraged by several conversations we had where people pretended to agree wholeheartedly with the most important thing in my life just to get money and food from me. I was angry, saddened, and frustrated. Why would God send me thousands of miles away from my home and provide thousands of dollars financial in support only to send liars my way? I was consumed by my doubtful thoughts constantly. Is the project even doing any good? Are we actually helping or just wasting the Ethiopian CRU staff’s time? I started to feel so exhausted and began sleeping as much as possible just to escape my negativity. Then God decided to teach me a lesson like He tends to do.
As part of our project bible study, we’ve been reading 1st and 2nd Corinthians. This could not be a more perfect part of the Bible to be reading at this time. I love Paul’s writings and his wise words for the church at Corinth. Paul arrived weak and discouraged when He spoke to the Corinthians when there was no ministry established. If God could use Paul in a sinful Godless place, He can use me too. I don’t know people’s hearts. That’s not my job. No matter what someone’s intentions are, it shouldn’t affect the way I share the gospel. Their relationship with the God of the universe is between them and God; I am simply a messenger. After slowly softening my heart, God used my team in amazing ways. Sarah, Huwit, and I had a great conversation with a man named Kafyelow. The next day he accepted Christ and we began discipleship appointments with him. He is such a joy. Another huge blessing to our team is Tarkue. He is a 12 year old boy who sells gum on the street with his friend Job. We befriended him early on and see him almost everyday when we go to the parks and cafes near campus to talk to students. He speaks great English and answers all our questions and warns us about pick pockets and other dangers. We soon learned that he is HIV positive. My heart broke and he was constantly the first thing that came to mind when I prayed. A few days later he accepted Christ and my day was made when I saw him reading his first Bible.
God is powerful. Some days are low. Some days are high. I am so encouraged at the end of every ministry day when I get to hear the great conversations my team is having with Ethiopians about God. We have been blessed to see about 20 people become our brothers and sisters in Christ and discipleship relationships start. While the campus track has been going out everyday, the film track has been inside planning their films with Ethiopians. Yesterday we got to go out for outreach together and use films as ways to start spiritual conversations which was a very cool experience.
PLEASE PRAY: When you drink coffee. Ethiopia has amazing coffee and much of it is used in America. One of the National team members had the inspiring idea of praying for one Ethiopian soul to know Jesus every time you drink a cup of coffee or tea.
PS: I strongly encourage everyone of you to read When Helping Hurts. We’re reading it as a team and it is ROCKING MY WORLD. Go buy it. Borrow my copy when I get back. It’s a must read about God’s heart for the poor of this world.
1 CORINTHIANS 15:58
I have arrived! I am currently in the hotel that will be our home for our stay in Addis. This place I am now calling home is a city of 4 million people where there are lanes on some of the roads, but they are never used. Public urination is acceptable, but walking and eating is rude. This place is strange and inviting. Darkness is here, but God shines through.
Briefing: I met my team of 22 students at a hotel in Dallas where we stayed one night for briefing. The team bonded quickly and I adore them. Half of the students are part of a film track. They know more about technology than I ever hope to and are from all over the nation. They will be partnering with 2 staff couples from UT Texas to create short films on spiritual happenings in Ethiopia alongside Ethiopians. One of the couples brought their kids (3 all under the age of 8!). They have amazing film equipment and talent and I can’t wait to see the results.
I am on the campus track. Our leaders are Megan and Aaron –a staff couple from Arkansas. Most of the team members from Arkansas are on the campus track. One exception is Blen. She is a graduate student who was born and lived in Addis until she was 18. She is fantastic and has been such a blessing. She knows the area and speaks the language! My team’s goal is to have spiritual conversations with Ethiopian college students. This is difficult since our team is not allowed on any of the campuses, so instead our ministry will occur mainly in coffee shops and parks with translators. At briefing we first discussed support raising and the many amazing ways God provided. I got to share with the group how amazing it was that I received more support than was needed and how thankful I am for you all! By the end of the night, CRU staff informed us that with all our total financial support, every member of Ethiopia Summer Project had full support! PRAISE GOD! We also discussed how vital the Great Commission is to our faith and how much God loves the nations. Loving our team, conflict resolution, and the emotional roller coaster that is living overseas were also topics. One of the best things about briefing was the S.T.I.N.T. team’s presence. They are previous college students who have graduated and have lived in Addis for the past year with CRU. They shared with us their experiences and cultural norms. My favorite was the fact that Ethiopians will call you “fat” just as easily as we call people “brunettes”. To them it’s not offensive and they can’t fathom why we believe it is. So that should be a joy haha. Men often hold hands with other men as a sign of friendship. Pickpocketing is very common. We absorbed this information, had a final American meal at Whataburger, and were off to DFW.
The Flight: The most traumatic event to occur so far on the trip (and I don’t think it will be topped), was my friend Lindsey finding a live cockroach in her salad during the flight. Don’t fly Lufthansa. Just sayin’. Besides that incident, the flight was fine. 24 hours of travel is never fun, but we made the best of it. After breakfast in the Frankfurt airport, we boarded our second 10 hour flight. My friend Emilee sat next to an adorable girl who was from from the UK, who was born in Sudan and was returning to surprise her grandparents. On my row was a hilarious older German couple. When I asked the man if anyone ever told him he looked like Anthony Hopkins, his wife quickly responded “That and James dean!”. We made a stop in the Sudan and outside the window looked like a scene from “Arabian Nights”, we then arrived in Addis finally at 9:30 pm local time. After going through customs, we were greeted by members of the CRU Ethiopian national team who gave us each a rose since “Addis Ababa” means “New Rose” in Amharic. The men grabbed our luggage and we all hopped in a van and arrived at our hotel. As we rode through Addis that night, the city truly looked like any American city. Our hotel is very nice – not too different from an American one. The team is sleeping 2 to a room. My roommate is Joanie, a friend from Arkansas.
Addis: Day 1. This is the good stuff. After a hard sleep, we awoke in Africa for the first time and it finally hit. The view from our hotel window showed shacks made from metal surrounding us with beautiful vegetation and modern highrise buildings in the background. the weather here is sometimes rainy but the temperature is wonderful - usually in the 70s during the day. I am so used to American major cities where there is a “nice part of town”and the part you “don’t go to after dark”. Here, poverty lives right next door to wealth.
Our team had breakfast at the hotel and then our morning was spent with the Ethiopian regional and national directors. These men are brilliant and have a passion for God and their country. They discussed the strengths and weaknesses of their campus ministry along with their goals for growth. I am so honored that I get to partner with these men to spread God’s word here because they definitely do not need us. They are organized prayer warriors who already humbly understand that Ethiopia will serve us more than we will serve it. God is using them powerfully and I am so thankful for their work and dedication. After the meeting, we split up into two groups for lunch. My group went to a nice restaurant that served traditional food and their versions of American food. The food here is…interesting. I am a picky eater and usually have to fill up on bread. The staff provided us with Ethiopian money to use for meals. My full course meal that I ordered along with two drinks (coke, or “coca”, as the Ethiopians call it) was $6 American dollars. Insane. I also ordered bottled water since you can not drink the tap water here (brushing your teeth at a sink with bottled water is not an easy habit to get into). After eating, our Ethiopian guide took us to see the Ethiopian CRU offices which was very neat. We then met up with the rest of the group and piled all 30 of us into a van. I was fortunate enough to not suffer from jet-lag, but this is when many of my friends began to fade. We drove through the city and as you can imagine I have to get used to the stares. Sweet school children love to wave and smile at us and beggars love to follow us. We have to be very careful of the pickpockets.
Myself and many of the students have suffered from feelings of guilt from what we see. I keep reminding myself that it was not my choice to be born a blessed American who knows the gospel, but it is my choice as to how I use and share this blessing. As Christian, I want the Ethiopians to be provided with health, family, food, and a home. I also know that their happiness, security, love, and purpose does not come from material worldly items that the western world has determined as necessary for a person to be satisfied. True joy comes from God and is not for a lifetime, but for eternity.
As I tried to describe to many of you, Addis is an African NYC and very advanced. Here you see modern next to rural. Goats are being bought in front of a Nissan dealership. Donkeys are on sidewalks in front of a coffee shop. Drivers here make NYC look like “Driving Mrs. Daisy”. There are no seatbelts. No real driving laws. People step in front of cars going 60mph without blinking. I had the honor of riding shotgun in the van at one point and saw driving dangers I can never unsee. Terrifying. However, I have thoroughly enjoyed my stay so far in the city. Everything from the friendly citizens to the colorful paint on buildings is inviting. It’s simply a special place. We start ministry soon! I am so excited to get to know my team better, this country, the people who reside in it, and the God who loves us.
PLEASE PRAY: 1. that the physical and spiritual needs of Ethiopians are met 2. for the CRU Ethiopian national team to be blessed 3. for our team to be focused on God’s will for our mission here 4. praise for Ethiopians’ openness to the gospel
God is good and He is a God that provides. Three days ago, I was $1,500 short for my Ethiopia trip and unsure where the remaining amount was going to come from. I was becoming doubtful and worrisome even though I knew that this amount of money was no obstacle for the God of the universe. It was amazing to see God provide this financial support in a few short days. I have reached my financial support goal for project!
Words do not describe my thankfulness to all of you - your prayers, financial gifts, and sweet encouragement have menat so much. PRAISE GOD! We are broken, sinful, and selfish people yet God not only accepts us, but He blesses us and uses us as blessings to others. This is something worth rejoicing about.
I will be leaving for briefing in Dallas on Saturday and then fly to the city of Addis on Sunday. I hope to have the ability to regularly update you all while I am there. I am anxious, excited, nervous, and very happy! A huge THANK YOU to you all.
I am 17 days away from arriving in Ethiopia! I think about this precious nation daily and can not wait to step foot on its soil. The past few weeks have been full of travel plans, immunizations, early packing, and finalizing support raising. I am currently at 70% of my financial support goal that must be completed by June 23, 2012. Please help me in praying for this goal to be completed and a HUGE thank you to those of you who have already helped.
I will arrive in Irving, Texas, for in-country briefing and then fly out on June 24 and land in Ethiopia on the 25th. Family and friends, I am truly so thankful for your prayers and support and look forward to keeping you all updated. God is good and I know that this summer will exemplify that.
As many of you know, my name is Emily Noah and I am currently a junior History major at the University of Arkansas (Go Hogs!). I am so grateful for my past three years at Fayetteville and am so thankful God has used college as an opportunity to change my life. My sophomore year, I became involved in a campus ministry called CRU. It is CRU’s goal that every student on our campus know someone who passionately follows Jesus. God has used this ministry to change my heart for Him. Spending my past summer on Santa Cruz Summer Project (a 10 week mission project in California through CRU) was the most amazing thing I’ve ever experienced. I learned so much about God’s glory, took practical steps in sharing my faith with co-workers, got the opportunity to live in a Christ-centered community, and build friendships that are a huge part of my life today.
This year I’ve had the opportunity to be discipled by Megan, a CRU staff member. I also disciple an amazing freshman girl named JuJu, lead a freshmen girls’ bible study, am a member of a junior girls’ study and CRU’s leadership team. I love serving God at the UofA, but recently God has been teaching me more about his love for the nations. I’m very blessed to attend New Heights on Sundays, a heavily mission minded church. I’ve also been taking a class called Perspectives on the World Mission Movement and learning so much about God’s perfect plan for all people of the world. I want to experience God’s glory and power and be used by Him outside of my comfort zone in America.
I applied and have been accepted to CRU’s Ethiopia Summer Project! I will be a part of a five week trip to the capital of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, from June 24-July 28, 2012. Ethiopia is a country located in East Africa where 60% of the population claims to be Christian, but only about 10% have a relationship with Christ. It is clear God is doing powerful things there and I can not wait to be a part of it. My team of about 20 people will be working alongside the CRU Ethiopian team and the S.T.I.N.T. team (former American college students living in Ethiopia for 1-2 years as short term missionaries). We will be reaching out to Ethiopia’s college students and having spiritual conversations in hope that they will receive the gospel. It is also our long-term hope that these new believers will be sent to North Africa’s closed countries to share God’s word. The last few days of our project will be spent in a rural town serving at an orphanage. God is preparing my heart more and more each day for this summer and I am ready to see what He has in store!
If you would like to be a part of my prayer/financial support team please click on the “Help Support!” link on the right under “My Links”. Thank you so much for reading!
This video is from Seth, a former Razorback who was in Addis doing short-term mission work with the Ethiopian CRU S.T.I.N.T. team. I hope you find this video as encouraging as I did!