I received word last night that a 23 year-old young man was found dead. This news causes me sadness. I am also rejoicing because of who this man was. His name was James. James was one of our translators when we went to Ethiopia in November. He was found dead a few days ago. He may have been murdered, we’re not sure. James was a shining example of a life devoted to the gospel’s sake and the glory of God.
James was from the Burji tribe. He spent several years in Kenya while in school. His English was very good. He also spoke Amharic (the Ethiopian National language), Burginia (the Buji’s tribal tongue), Orominia (the language of the Oromo people), and Swahili. James wanted to be used of the Lord in any way he could. Our team was to be ministering among the Burji people. Some from our team were going to the neighboring tribe, the Guji’s. The Burji’s and the Guji’s have been warring and fighting for decades. Fighting even started while we were there in the fall. Several Burji were murdered by Guji men. Dave and BeckyLynn Black have been working as missionaries in Ethiopia for about 5 years now. They had never done any work with the Guji people. We weren’t sure if we would be able to send some from the team to the Guji people because of the fighting when we arrived. One of the biggest hurdles was finding a translator. This would have to be someone who 1) spoke English and Orominian, 2) was willing to put his life on the line being a Burji going amongst the Guji peoples, and 3) did not look like a Burji. James fit these qualification.
I remember talking with James the night before they were to head out to the Guji’s. He was burdened about how he had lived his life. He was a good young man, but his question was, “has my life meant anything for the Gospel and for Jesus?” I encouraged him simply to be obedient. I told him the Lord would use him as He desires. The next morning, they headed out for the Gujiland. They were well received. They met church and village leaders, distributed seeds, showed the Jesus film, and preached. We know of one person who received Christ during their time there. God used those few days to open the door for more of His work.
God is directing His work in Ethiopia to begin Bible distribution among the Gujis, they have no Bibles! God is also bringing together believers from the Burji people and the Guji people to have a Peace Conference in May. They want to show their tribes that Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, can bring peace to their peoples. There is no telling what God will do as this door is opened to work among the Gujis. God could have done this any way He desired, but He used the life of this 23 year-old man named James to bring His Word to the Guji people. It was a dangerous mission. If the Guji’s had found out that James was Burji, they would have killed him. Things got so tense that they had to cut short their time with the Gujis as war had broken out again between these tribes once again.
God has opened the door for ministry and for the gospel among the Guji people! I must say, “James, your life meant much for the gospel. I look forward to seeing you again. I am sad that you are not here, but I rejoice because you are with Jesus!”