Monday, May 2, 2016

Relationships Build Churches

by Joy Casey
Mission 1:27 supports indigenous, same-culture missionaries in thirteen villages throughout Ethiopia. The men serving come from M*slim backgrounds and are tireless in sharing the good news. The villages are patriarchal tribal communities and family and community relationships are highly valued. The villages have no books or libraries, no internet, few cell phones, no electricity and no place to go, so social outlets involve each other.
Jesus framed the first mission very simply… “The one who receives you receives Me.” It was more critical that His messengers were received than believed. The gospel has always been more than a message; it is an introduction to life under Christ’s lordship. When His messengers have connected with others in significant relationships, Christ can be introduced in powerful ways. (Perspectives)

Because we are working in tribal societies, the key to sharing the gospel is forging personal relationships. Same-culture missionaries purposefully move to a village where Christianity has never been presented in truth and love and where less than 1% of the population are Christ-followers. Several villages boasted zero Christ-followers until the missionary moved there. They begin integrating their families into village life by inviting neighbors over for traditional coffee ceremony and helping neighbors with projects. The women visit and lend a hand with chores such as hauling water. They build friendships by sharing in the day-to-day life of procuring and preparing food and caring for children.

The evangelist will find a person of peace and, after building a friendship relationship, will begin talking to him about what the Q*ran says about Isa. A dialogue using the familiar Q*ranic “voice” breaks down barriers and biblical truth can then be sensitively introduced. If the person of peace is an influential man in the community, it is doubly good if he accepts Christ. Because of the group mentality of the people, a leader can impact his family and neighbors and can more easily win over groups of people.

When someone shows interest in learning more about Jesus, there are several booklets available to confirm initial conversations and to give more in-depth information. One is a discipleship book called Following Jesus and the others explain the origins and contradictions of the M*slim religion and M*hammad along with a testimony of a M*slim man who came to Christ. There is also the Jesus film available in their language, and battery-run projectors can be made available to show the film, which is very effective. Because illiteracy runs high, solar-powered audio bibles are available in every church plant and can be listened to individually with ear buds or groups can hear God’s word spoken through the amazingly good speakers.

When a person or a family group comes to know the Lord, personal discipleship is essential. The evangelist initiates prayer times and holds Bible studies for all the new Christians and has the great privilege of baptizing them in a nearby lake. In the smaller villages, converts meet in each other’s homes until they outgrow the available room. In M*slim-dominated areas the recent climate has become much more intolerant of allowing Christian churches to be built anywhere. To solve this problem, converts in the outlying areas are donating their own land as a place to build a center for worship when they outgrow the house church. Leaders from the converts are selected for special teaching and taught strategies to reach their people. The results are spectacular in some settings and agonizingly slow in others. When it is impossible to create a central worship center, house churches begat house churches and the church is multiplied in this way. It is not ideal, though, because corporate worship and Bible teaching is effective in this culture to build community and also to offer group encouragement when converts are initially ostracized or experience overt persecution. However, the new Christ-followers remain in their village and eventually find acceptance as before.

In a few days I leave for Ethiopia and will be visiting many of the church plants. I am especially eager to visit one town where 250 villagers have decided to follow Jesus and two generous donors have provided for a church to be built. In another area, family groups are coming to the Lord and they are receiving in-depth instruction for one week followed by baptism. They are then sent back to their homes with Jesus’ instructions, “Make disciples.” We are hoping to experience spontaneous multiplication of churches as these individuals reach out to their extended family and neighbors. We are working in areas where we are wonderfully over our head and anything that is accomplished for the kingdom is because of the Holy Spirit in partnership with obedient people. It is an exciting time!

If you would like to help us in reaching many more people with the Truth of the Jesus Christ, you can donate to support his work here.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Melkam Fasika!

Today is Easter Sunday in Ethiopia - called Fasika in Amharic -  celebrating the day Jesus Christ rose from the dead.  During the 56 days of Lent in Ethiopia, Orthodox Christians don't eat or buy any animal products. On Palm Sunday, people wear head bands and rings made of palm leaves with crosses marked on them.

The first Easter Orthodox church service actually starts at 8.00pm on Easter Saturday night and lasts until 3.00 am on Easter Sunday morning! Most people go to the whole service and wear their best clothes. These are often white and are called 'Yabesha Libs'.

After Easter services in all Christian churches, people go back to their homes for a breakfast to celebrate the end of Lent with a bread or dabo. It is traditional that the bread is cut by a priest or by the head man in the family.

The main Easter meal is eaten in the afternoon. The meal normally consists of injera and, for those who can afford it, it is eaten with a mutton or lamb stew called 'beg wot'.
Ethiopia 2008 Lindsey 434

We know that our staff in Ethiopia are celebrating Christ’s resurrection on this Sunday and we wish them and you a very blessed Resurrection Day!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The 'John Deere' of Dembidollo

Originally posted November 2014

Dembidollo is a rural area in Ethiopia where most people make a living by farming or raising livestock. Three very poor families were given a pair of oxen to cultivate their land, resulting in successful harvests that have set them on the path of self-sufficiency.


dd-0031 (2)Mikiyas, his brother, two sisters plus two children live together in one room on a lush piece of property in the countryside that they could not farm because they did not have oxen. Their poverty was deep. The walls of their house were just sticks that let in the wind and the rain, and they all slept under tarps on the dirt floor. Mikiyas and his brother wanted desperately to improve their situation and provide for their sisters, niece and nephew but their earning power was low and without oxen, their property was worthless.


A year-and-a-half ago the couple who “adopted” this family raised $700 to buy a pair of oxen, the yoke, and hand plow so the brothers could cultivate their land. Gratefully, they worked hard planting maize (corn), sorghum, barley and onions. The men also plowed their neighbor’s land, sharing 50/50  in that harvest. Their trusty oxen plowed seven acres, and the profit from the first harvest allowed them to mud the walls of their house and replace the broken door, but most profit went back into their second planting. After harvest in 2014, their profits were ensured and they no longer needed monthly help from Mission 1:27.


DD-0053 C Debela was one of Etana’s 10 children who, for awhile, was farmed out as a servant because his father did not have enough food for his large family. After Etana’s family was identified for help through Mission 1:27, Debela was reunited with his family, but school was out of reach for the eight school-aged children. Etana’s family lives quite a distance from Dembidollo town in a beautiful valley on a fertile piece of property, but Etana had no way to plow it. He had a few sheep that he sold for a little profit, but without the supplement of monthly food that M1:27 gave him, his large family would be hungry most of the time.

It was a gift almost beyond Etana’s comprehension when their sponsor offered to buy him the equivalent of a John Deere: a set of oxen. As is often done in Ethiopia, Etana cultivated his land and also a neighbor’s property to share 50/50 in that harvest. He planted maize, sorghum, wheat, teff and chickpeas. After the first harvest Etana bought a pregnant cow and the eight older children were enrolled in school. After a successful second harvest, it was determined that his family no longer needed outside help. The boost of oxen was just what was needed to set this hard-working man on his feet to proudly provide for his family.


dd-0064Galalcha and Sanaye have three children, and their son, Fedesa, is a strong young man who, with the help of his mother, has the responsibility of doing the hard labor required to be a farmer in Ethiopia. Galalcha is a personable older man who has been significantly weakened with leprosy. Before Galalcha contracted leprosy, he was a laboratory technician in a hospital and through his good salary bought a nice piece of property. However, life after leprosy has not been easy for him or his family.

Eighteen months ago, Galalcha’s family received a set of oxen, a gift from their Mission 1:27 sponsor. Fedesa was ecstatic and promised to work hard to farm their property.  He made plans to hire his oxen out to plow neighboring property as well. The farm has produced brilliantly under the competent hard work of Fedesa and Sanaye. The daughters are going to school and they now have a milk cow. We join Galalcha and his family in rejoicing over the amazing provision of oxen that has made the difference between dependency and self-sufficiency.

Read more stories of people like these - families who someone just like you invested in and who are now operating successful businesses - on our website here!  

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Out of the King’s Storehouse

by Joy Casey

How sweet are your words to my taste,
Sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Psalm 119:103

There are a lot of good people in the world and I think I have been ultra-blessed to have a lion’s share of them in my life. Nice people. Kind people. Thoughtful people.
Bob-and-Pat WarrenThen there is a smaller sub-category of good people whose lives focus on Kingdom work and everything about them reflects a worldview that God is in charge, God is our provider, and God receives all glory. Bob Warren and his wife Pat are a couple that shine as an example of people in this category.

Bob’s organization is called The King’s Storehouse and his focus is God’s Word and clean water. He provides high quality solar-powered personal audio Bibles in many different languages to Christian organizations who will get them out to indigenous churches and pastors.
For years, Bob has provided Mission 1:27 with audio Bibles in the Orominya and Amharic languages. I have 20 sitting in my office right now that will go to Ethiopia with a team next month. These precious tools are used in places where illiteracy is high or it is dangerous to carry around a bible. The audio bibles look like an iPod or some other innocuous device with ear buds. Our goal is to have one or two audio bibles available in all the new church plants so anyone can come to the church and listen to God’s word whenever they can. I cannot overstate what an invaluable tool these solar powered Bibles are!

sawyer 1
The King’s Storehouse has also provided us with Sawyer Point One water filters that are effective, portable, and easy to put together and to keep up. We have given out hundreds of these and have seen waterborne illnesses drop dramatically when people use them.
As people purchase portable water filters and audio bibles through our gift catalog, we send Bob a check, but he typically doesn’t wait for the money. He calls and asks me, “Can you take God’s Word to Africa any time soon?” And then he sends me what he can in the languages we need. If I can reimburse him at some point, fine. If I cannot, he is unconcerned because God will provide another way.
Bob and Pat keep their eyes on the goal: serving God well until they are with Jesus for eternity. They are the genuine deal and we are so grateful to partner with them!

If you would like to help us deliver clean water and the Good News to many in Ethiopia, each costs only $50 and can be donated with a click below…

Image 7 / 34   iPhone-sized MegaVoice Envoy. Solar powered, light weight, inconspicuous       water filter

Monday, April 4, 2016

HerStory videos

Last year, the US Embassy in Addis Ababa invited people to submit a 3 minute film about women and girls' issues in Ethiopia. All were made by Ethiopians and all of them highlighted the extreme challenges faced by women there - access to education, violence and the burden of domestic work.  Many are difficult to watch but they reflect a reality that can't be ignored.

Here are several of the top ten winners...

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Birth Family Talks


"Am I like my Ethiopia mommy?"

"Did my tummy mommy love me?"

"Why didn't she keep me?"

These questions can pop up any time but birthdays and holidays are sometimes a trigger and provide a special opportunity to process the grief that is part of every adoption.  Here is a beautiful way to help your adopted son or daughter honor their birth parents on their birthday – a time when lots of questions and feelings may come to the surface and grief is revisited…

We have some other links to articles and posts that may be helpful below. 

Talking to Your Kids About Adoption
11 points to help get you started

Please leave a comment and share your own ideas for ways to help kids process their emotions about their birth family.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Exquisitely Beautiful Ethiopia {a re-post}

by Joy Casey in Ethiopia
(originally written in May 2014)

Jeff and I have spent five days traveling out west to an area called the Wollega in Ethiopia. Going to the countryside is like entering a time warp of sorts. We are transplanted to an agrarian lifestyle with farming, cattle, and other livestock the bedrock of life.


Market days are crowded and noisy with people walking miles either to sell their wares or to buy necessities.    Cooking is done outdoors over open fires, and laundry is washed by hand and laid on bushes to dry.
Women dress in long dresses with scarves around their shoulders and their heads covered with bright colored cloth. Some carry umbrellas to ward off the sun.

It is not uncommon to see men and women and boys and girls walking with baskets loaded with papaya on their heads.
It is normal to see women working or visiting with babies on their back and toddlers running around barefoot with nothing on but a shirt and sometimes not even that. In the markets and along dusty paths, bananas, avocados, pineapples and papayas are readily available... and so very fresh and yummy.

Hungry and want some fast food? Roasted maize is available for a very small price.

I know I am in “real” Africa when I see villages dotting the countryside comprised of mud houses topped with thatched roofs. Now is planting season, and the fields are being tilled and the dark, rich soil readied for planting in anticipation of the rains that will arrive soon.
Farmers walk to their fields carrying their plow or hand spades. It is amazing to me to watch the oxen pull hand plows and to know that field after field is tilled by the strength of oxen and the man walking behind, guiding the crude plow.
As we sit at a small buna stand taking a break from our work, I love watching the colorful and friendly people as well as watching and listening to the brightly feathered birds flitting among the trees and exuberant flowers. But what always captures my full attention are the beautiful children!
Years ago I fell in love with the children of this great land and the love affair has not waned. I am charmed by the innovation of the children to make toys out of nothing.
Ethiopians are hospitable to the extreme, and Jeff and I are honored when we are invited into a home for coffee ceremony.
Coffee in Ethiopia is not a quick cup. There is an order and meaning to each step, and it is a time to relax and visit. You cannot hurry coffee ceremony. The strong coffee smell mingles with the incense as our hostess roasts the coffee beans over a charcoal fire. When they are perfectly roasted, she carries the beans around the room and the guests appreciatively inhale the rich coffee smoke. Then she puts the beans in a mortar and crushes them while a pot of water is set on the coals to boil.  She carefully puts the ground coffee in a beautiful coffee pot and slowly adds hot water until she gets the just right taste and consistency. Then, the coffee is carefully poured into small cups and served to her guests. Three cups of coffee are the norm. We are also offered handfuls of popped corn that surprisingly is just the right compliment to the coffee.
After church on Sunday, we went to a traditional Ethiopian restaurant… one where the locals congregate. This place is known for its meat, and our friends ordered the delicacy of raw meat. The meat is fresh and the men were given sharp knives and they sliced off hunks of meat and ate it with injera (Ethiopia’s cultural bread) dipped in berbere spices. They said it was yum.
Jeff and I declined to go “Ethiopian” and instead had roasted lamb tibs. That, I can tell you, is delicious!
As if all of these sights and sounds are not enough, Ethiopia closes out its day with spectacular sunsets. I love to be outdoors around 6 p.m. and watch the sky turn vivid orange and reflect its benediction on the land below. My work here entails bringing relief to desperate situations, families to orphans, and the Good News to unreached people. But never do I feel sorry for these proud people. They have a rich culture and a society that by and large is centered around family and where relationships are given top priority.
Last night, four of us took a walk around Nekemte in the balmy evening air, and the streets were packed with people greeting each other with kisses, laughing over coffee, friends looking over wares in tiny shops along the street, and people generally enjoying each other’s company at the end of the day. With all our material advantages and technical superiority, I yearn for this kind of camaraderie that takes time for people and values friendships. I am enriched by my experiences in exquisitely beautiful Ethiopia.

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