Last week, we had the opportunity to share the wonderful things taking place in West Arsi with several leaders from Penasquitos Lutheran Church one of our mission partners. PLC has invested in Discovering Light’s mission for two years. And now, they were able to get a firsthand look at the hope that is rising among many of the Arsi Oromo people. We asked Pastor Sean Kelly and Missions Committee member Steve Josephs for some initial thoughts on their first visit to Ethiopia.
What was the highlight of your trip?
The instant highlight for me was the Discovery Bible Study groups. In addition, the trip to the mountains and the baptism ceremony – to see the fire of the Gospel message among the previously unreached is something I will never forget.
The highlight for me was seeing the impact of the SHGs. While the other components of the mission effort were outstanding and easily could have been the top highlight, the SHGs embody the missional thrust of empowering the people to be part of their own development and change.
What did you learn or see that was unexpected or changed your perspective?
First of all, I did not expect such wonderful hospitality. The trip introduced a new and refreshing paradigm for sharing God’s word with groups that have never heard the Gospel. I was impressed with the skilled and dedicated leadership of each organization.
Visiting Salem-Awassa (Vocational and Technical College) on Wednesday morning was unexpected. Sitting with Teddy for an hour (or so) and hearing the history, vision, and future plans for the manufacturing business alongside the training component was outstanding. When he was asked about those who get job placement with competing companies, he stated, “I don’t have a problem with that. We don’t lose; Ethiopia wins.” That changed my perspective on that particular aspect of the mission effort.
It is said that “seeing is believing”. This was definitely true for our friends following their visit to Ethiopia. In person interaction is the surest way to eliminate paternalistic ideas about what the so-called “poor Africans” are capable of and instead, seeing them as people made in God’s image with great potential. We are excited that our friends were also able to see how God has raised up leaders in Ethiopia and understand why we are so thankful for the partners we’ve developed over the last 5 years.