I met a fascinating man the other day in a rural village in Ethiopia. First let me tell you what the world sees of him, then let me tell you what God has enabled him to do.
Ayele is from Southern Ethiopia. His tribe is a majority Christian and he himself is a strong Christian. Their tribe lives in an area of rich farmland of Ethiopia where everything is easy to grow. He is handicapped and has trouble with his legs which are malformed as well as his curved spinal column. He is hunched over and clearly malnourished as well. His clothes were tattered, but well kept and his shoes unpolished and torn. If I would meet him in America I would assume he would be on government welfare. In Ethiopia, he just blends in with the rural peoples.
He moved his family, a young wife and his two sons, to the desert region. They live in utter poverty. Their children do not have access to any good schools so will likely not be able to receive higher education. They do not own or even live in a house. A Christian brother heard what they were doing and gave them a storage room to sleep in at night. They are grateful. The storage room is about six feet wide by eight feet long. Half of the room is their bed where the entire family sleeps. They cook with a campfire in front of the storage room. The storage room, like many houses in Ethiopia, is made of mud.
Not only that, Ayele’s calling requires him to walk to remote villages in this desert region every day. The average walk, one way, is four hours. In a typical week, he will walk to at least five villages to which there is no road, in the hot desert region, and receive no pay for doing so.
Ayele is called of God to be a church planter among unreached peoples in Ethiopia. Let me tell you plainly: this Christian man is sharing the gospel with Muslims. He is handicapped, malnourished, and desperately poor. Yet when talking to him, it seems as if he doesn’t know all these things which I could plainly see. He never made any excuses to God.
Now let me tell you what God has done through this man. It is probably more correctly stated, what Ayele has allowed God to do through him. You see, God doesn’t force anyone to do anything, nor does he make excuses for them. When God called Ayele, he knew what he could do through obedience.
Ayele was called to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to Muslims. You could not ask for a tougher task in the world today. This occupation has a high mortality rate. In one year, he has started more than three churches among these unreached peoples. The typical congregation is 20-25 people. They have all been baptized and are sharing the faith with other non-believers as well. After more than a year of walking four to eight hours a day, someone heard what he was doing and bought him a second hand bicycle. Now he is going to even more villages and even farther. Each week he teaches and worships with each of the groups of new believers and continues to go to more unreached villages each week to share the gospel.
Ayele considers it a privilege to be able to serve God the way he does. Despite any one of a dozen very good excuses he could give as to why he should stay home or focus on caring for his family only, he has offered his life fully to Jesus every day to make known the love of Jesus to those who have never heard.
You could not find Ayele if you tried. His name is one of the most common in Ethiopia. He has no permanent address and he is always moving. He is the type of guy that when I meet him I just want to hug him and hope some of the faith he lives with every day rubs off on me. When I prayed for his family, they wept and his wife bowed prostrate on the ground as she ask God to bless their family and sustain them in the work he has called them to do. Their humility was overpowering. While it is likely you will never be able to meet Ayele, he is one of the heroes of the faith who will go unnoticed by nearly everyone in this world, yet is a powerful weapon in the hand of God.
I tried to determine how such a simple man, who could easily make great excuses to God to be excused from this difficult ministry could accomplish such amazing things for the Kingdom of God. The only thing I could see was that he positioned his life to be utterly dependent on God, without excuse. This is the life of faith. This is the fruit of faith.