1 Cor. 15:58 has been on my heart today as we traveled by bus for 17 hours. It says, “Be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord’s work, knowing that our labor in the Lord is not in vain.” What a great motivation to do whatever is needed and whatever He calls me to do! As we began our journey at 3:50 AM, I had this thought, “Lord, I don’t mind whatever happens on this trip as long as I get back home safely and can kiss Matthea again and hug the children.” That brought me some comfort. Who knows what awaits us as we travel for 4-5 hours through the Guji road. That thought settled my heart. I was ready for whatever this trip would bring. Then, God spoke to me in that small voice. He said, “Jon, one day you will be safe at home with Me, don’t worry about what happens the rest of your life, since you know you will be with Me and be safe one day.” What a moving thought! What a convicting thought! I don’t live everyday like that. I should. No mater what He calls me to do, or where He calls me to go, one day I will be safe in His presence.
We had a great journey to the Burji people. We passed 8000-10,000 people walking on the roadside. Very few in Ethiopia have cars. So many people simply smiled when we smiled at them. Ethiopians are a beautiful people. We saw so many people with many needs. I cannot meet all their needs. We met some foreign aid workers that scoffed at the idea of us being missionaries. We’re not here to make the Ethiopians like us. Aid workers sometimes think they can solve everyone’s problems. I know reality. Only Jesus can meet their needs and solve their problems. My job is to introduce them to Jesus.
Along the road we received a call that it was safe to pas through the main Guji road. This would be a 2 hour gravel road instead of the 4-5 hour gravel road. That was good news. We were told the road is open. As our truck (I had moved with a few others to ride in the truck) began the journey into Guji territory the sun had just set. It was dark. There was silence in the truck for 20 minutes as we all watched the minutes tick by so slowly. Then someone asked one on our team how they came to know Jesus. This began a 2 hour conversation about the Lord’s work in our lives. This did much more than pass the time. We began to praise Jesus in the truck. I was reminded of the Psalm, “God inhabits the praises of His people.” We could sense the Lord’s presence and comfort in the truck. We were not anxious any longer. Even after hearing a gunshot in the distance. Actually I think only Dr. Black and I heard it. He slowly rolled up his window after hearing the shot and didn’t say a word about it. We did pass a group of 50-75 Gujis on the side of the road with machine guns. It was a little tense, but they stood there and let us pass without any bother.
God is so good to us! Oshe (one of the Burji leaders) told us after we arrived that no vehicle had made it through that Guji road in 6 months! He said he knew thousands were praying for us and we should go ahead and come through that road. I asked Oshe why he didn’t share that it had been closed for 6 months and he said, “you all had enough on your plate, I didn’t want to trouble you with that.”
I am glad to get some rest now. We were greeted with singing and rejoicing as we arrived at the Burji District Church Compound. This will be my home for the next 2 weeks. Mary and Cindy will be here as well. The rest of the team of 12 are dividing up and going out to different areas. God has shown Himself mighty in power and we’ve only just begun our work.