from prison, to my heart

The helicopter took off Tuesday morning…and returned just a few hours later. I heard the sound from the compound, and my heart skipped a beat…Dave and Ella had just gotten on board that bird hours before and I let go of my little girl for the first time…the first of many, I’m sure.

The helicopter only returns early for emergencies…if someone needs medical attention, so I began to pray…and ran towards the field.

Our pilot greeted me, “Can you help us?” he asked…of course, always…I am learning this—to be ready, to be available. This certainly was not on the ‘daily planner for 15 December, 2014’…but God speaks and leads. Will I listen? Will I be willing?

Bi came to us ‘emergently’, per a clinic referral from deep in the southern parts of Ethiopi@. They said it was possibly an acute appendicitis, a fatal issue if no hospital is available. I quickly ran up to the hospital, baby on my hip and began the task of registering Bi into our hospital system. The word ‘emergency’ here in Ethiopi@, really holds no weight and causes no different response to any issue, medical or non-medical…life-threatening or not. I was pressed tight between a circle of men, the smell of sweat encompassed me. I tried to push to the front of the line, but mostly everyone just stared and smiled at me and Selah, in our vain attempt to be aggressive. A friend and worker in the Hospital, Meles, found me and immediately went behind the scenes to get us registered! I praised God for his perfect provision.

As the morning progressed it was evident to me that Bi was not in an emergent situation, so I was thanking the Lord. I loved these two men of God, so FULL of JOY, gratitude and evidencing the Holy Spirit. Their smiles were amazing, reflecting their hearts full. It was an honor to help these men through the hospital maze, then to help them get food and a place to stay. For me it was close to nothing, but for them, it was weeks’ wages. Somehow, I felt that I was helping a very special family.

The story unfolded as B and D returned on the helicopter the next day. These men embraced, and cried and laughed together. They asked me for buna (coffee) and my heart soared!! I was going to have this privilege of having all these awesome men of God in my home!! As soon as we sat down, B began to share of Bi’s life.

He was one of the first believers in his town (Me’@n Territory) where B and his wife ministered years ago. He is the leader of a now 15,000 person church in that region! Bi is passionate about the W0rd of G0d getting into the hands of his people, and so has been going around door to door to share the G0spel, and help people learn to read their language, (which B wrote!). He was recently impris0ned and that’s where he’s been for the past few weeks…until the clinic diagnosed him with an ‘emergent diagnosis’, for which they let him free for a few days to receive medical care. The helicopter just happened to arrive that day. God came down. He looked upon His servant Bi, and reminded him of His favor and LOVE over him. He lifted him up out of that prison and brought him here …to my living room…to my life. B began to cry sharing about this joyful servant of Jesus…Bi shared that he had already made his decision to return to pris0n because he could see that God had work for him there, and if that is where God would choose to use him, he’d gladly go back. He had already seen 4 men come to Christ after he shared with them in pris0n. We all sat humbled and in awe of this kind of faith. A PAUL-like man is living, breathing, counting all a loss, in s0uthern Ethiopia…for Jesus. And now sitting in my living room, smiling giddy, totally enjoying his coffee and his brothers in Christ. I couldn’t believe I was witnessing this. His son, Joh, sat smiling just as big. They know our Father in a special way…through suffering.   They had deep, unshakable joy. I could FEEL the Spirit oozing from them. Bi and his wife have 7 children and J0h was his oldest. They laughed as they spoke of the strength of his wife…I asked what she needed since he was in prison, and he laughed and said he had no idea. B said, she’s one of the strongest ‘bush’ women he’s ever met. I laughed picturing this woman who kept this man going for the Lord. There is often a woman of quiet strength and prayer behind a man like this!

We gathered around this man…B’s knee bent to the floor, his hand upon Bi’s shoulder, his face lifted…In Amharic, he prayed hard to the Lord for grace, for protection, for kingdom glory to come down. He prayed. Dave and I sat stunned and full. How this has become a part of our lives amazes us. How God has revealed his work among his people has humbled us and awoken us from an other-cultural sleepiness…he has allowed our eyes to see, our hearts to be burdened and our minds to understand His work here in a personal way. They asked us to pray…as they headed back to pris0n, they asked us to pray. They left for a 2 day bus ride back to pris0n with smiles and overwhelming gratitude…and they asked us to pray. Did they even know how much they impacted these lives here in my living room? Did they see how they were what God used to grab hold of my heart and burden me to pray? Did they wonder at why God would use our family here in a big beautiful home, and them in prison? It appeared that they had God-eyes…that they could only see HIS will, His face, His plan for their lives. There was no comparison, no self-pity, no desire to escape this path. Only totally joyful, surrendered lives. Christ was in them. THE HOPE of Glory.

WILL YOU PLEASE LET GOD IMPRINT THIS STORY…HIS STORY ON YOUR HEART…WILL YOU PRAY WITH US FOR THIS MAN, AND MANY OTHERS LIKE HIM IN THE S0UTHERN REGIONS OF ET? THEY ARE SUFFERING WITH JOY FOR JESUS…LET US NOT FORGET PEOPLE WHO HAVE BEEN CALLED TO A LIFE LIKE THIS…

ADVENT JOY TO YOU.