Pinch! It’s real. I am living a dream! I am sitting on the balcony of a guest cabin of the Kale Heywert School of Missions campus in Durame, Ethiopia. I arrived last night after three days of traveling from Cambodia. I had to make six plane connections and one six-hour drive in a small Toyota. Thanks to jet-lag I am watching the sunrise from my perch on the mountainside. I have been three times to Africa now and the mystique is still strong. This is an amazing continent. A dense fog has enveloped the town of Durame which sits far below me. It is a cool 65 degrees (F). The air is still but not silent; thousands of animals and birds have brought heavenly music to the air. Hyenas and hornbills bellow out their sounds while thousands of different birds with amazing colors sing their angelic melodies. The sun has just peaked above the eastern horizon. Durame is in the mountains on the edge of the rift valley. The rift valley cuts all the way from Mt. Hermon in northern Israel, through Galilee and the Dead Sea cutting right through to Africa slicing a massive deep valley out of Ethiopia and Kenya. On the west side of the valley it is green and beautiful. Imagine Colorado. It’s pretty close. That’s where I am as I write this. On the east is the desert which stretches all the way to Somalia. Praise God it has been raining, last year they were in a drought (I am sure you have seen the news and appeals for aid), but now everything is a lush green. Farmers are plowing their fields all over the nation.
Where I am sitting this morning I am just in awe of God and so humbled by his love for me. I could not have dreamed up or invented a life like I am living. Sure, the three days of travel were long, but I got to meet amazing people, see amazing things and eat amazing food. In Taipei, the Republic of China, I saw a museum of artifacts from the hundreds of years of Chinese emperors. I flew over and prayed for countries which most people cannot pronounce like Azerbaijan and Moldova much less actually find them on a map. My flight got cancelled in Vienna, Austria so I relaxed along the Danube River in a park dedicated to amazing musicians like Bach and Mozart who lived there! I ate Austrian chocolate for my lunch, which is almost as good as Belgium chocolate.
I flew on to Istanbul, Turkey and flew over the oldest church building in the world (Hagia Sophia): The Church of Holy Wisdom. My time was only brief in Istanbul, but I was able to get a bite to eat; Iskandar. I don’t know how they make it, but I first discovered this dish in Turkey last year when I was touring the seven cities of Revelation and I fell in love with it. It was just like God to provide that dish for me as I was only passing through. Flying on to Addis Ababa (the new flower) the airline gave me 3 seats to myself. Only me! Everyone else sat like they were in the cattle class we were booked into! What a blessing. I slept most of the way and was overjoyed to be met by my good friends Solomon and his co-worker Ephraim. The next day we spent six hours driving to where I am now. On the way I visited a World Heritage Site called “Tiya”. I bet you have never heard of it. That’s what makes it cool. It is 900 year of cemetery of Ethiopian warriors with carved gravestones as high as 5 meters (15 feet tall). I had lunch in a village hut which looked like a bamboo palace. The food was amazing. It was a mixture of lamb, beef, sour cheese and the ever-present Ethiopian injara. What an amazing day, I can’t wait for what will happen tomorrow!
Over twenty-five years ago I made an important decision which has led me on this amazing journey today. I gave my life to Christ. No, I didn’t pray the sinner’s prayer, I actually did that a number of times long before that. The decision I made was that I gave ALL of my life to Jesus. I gave him my dreams. I gave him my abilities. I gave him my future and most importantly I gave him my plans. Since then life has certainly never been easy, but it has been amazing. It has been a life beyond my wildest dreams. I do not travel around the world for vacation, but because of my job. I am teaching this week on church planting among amazing Christians who are dedicating their lives to work among Muslim and animistic peoples. Though I wrote a 270 page book I can summarize it in a few sentences: “Listen to what the Holy Spirit tells you to do, then do that and in every situation love people.”
Thank you God for taking my life. Thank you God for removing my desire to promote myself and climb ladders. Thank you for taking the American Dream away from me. Thank you for taking me the desire for “financial security”. Thank you for leading me each day. Thank you for giving me a life beyond my wildest dreams!