Our 4 day Men’s Bible Conference began today. It was to start at 8:30 this morning. Our team finished breakfast at 8:45 and Worku and I were getting up to go over for the conference. Dave said, “Let’s pray together for the day.” 45 minutes later we were done praying. God moved in mighty ways in our midst during that time. Wow! Hearts crying out to the Lord in several languages…what a great way to begin a day! I had the joy of sharing how I came to know Jesus on 3 occasions today. The words of the song What Would I have Done come to mind.
The Conference started well. I was nervous and felt inadequate to teach the book of 1 Corinthians to these rural church leaders. There were 65 men who have traveled far to be here for 4 days. I wondered what I had to share with these men who suffer and sacrifice so much each day as they follow Jesus. What can I tell them? When was the last time I suffered for Him? The Lord spoke to my heart again and reminded that He has called me for this task. He has equipped me. I will rest in Him. One of the men asked why we were late starting (9:40 instead of 8:30). He said that they are taught to think more like Ferengis (white-faced foreigners) who value time and pay attention to the clock. I was unsure how to respond. I told him we were praying. I also told him that there are many things we Ferengis do that are not worth imitating. [Looking back now, I think that exchange set the tone for the conference that I as a white man do not have the answers for the Ethiopian church or the American church, only God does]
We had 4 90-minute sessions today. At the end of our last session one man said this book addresses exactly where there churches are. Today we covered the first 4 chapters which deal with unity in the body. He wanted to know how these problems should be solved and asked if we would find out by the end of the book. I told him that every church struggles with these issues to some extent or another. I said there is no quick fix. The remedy I suggested is 1) Preach and Teach Jesus 2) Keep focused on Christ in everything that you do 3) Be patient & 4) Pray. I said, “this Ferengi doesn’t have the magic answer!” We were all comforted to know that each of the 27 churches represented have the same troubles.
We closed our time today with prayer. I love hearing these prayers in Amharic. They express so much emotion by their diction and voice inflection. It is a blessing to me, I wonder how special it must be to the Lord. One last thought on prayer today. When the conference began we had no electricity. They have only had it in Soyama for a couple of years, but it is not guaranteed. It has been out since Saturday afternoon and it is now Monday. I was having trouble reading my Bible at the start. I simply asked Jesus to help me read and make it through this time. He did. Less than 60 seconds later a man came in and said something to Worku. Worku then reached up and turned on the light! I wonder why I don’t pray simple prayers, trusting Jesus like this at home?