My heart is so full. It has been said that life in Gambela is either very high or very low, but rarely in between. The stench of death, disease, and despair hangs in the air like a sulfurous fume from the pit and, if we are not careful, it can suck us in and rob us of the joy we have in Jesus. It is especially hard when those close to us are suffering…like when the teenage son of our Opo guard, Joseph, unexpectedly died of unknown causes recently.
But at the same time, the Lord is doing great things that we have, up until now, only read about in Acts and in books on revival. People regularly cry out in services, falling down on their knees weeping as the Holy Spirit touches their hearts. Demons too cry out, throwing their hosts to the ground, but they are dealt with swiftly in the Name of Jesus. The Anuak are using the Jesus Film in their revival meetings and evangelistic services to great effect.
The Spirit is moving and we have the best seats in the house!
We recently heard about a man in a nearby village who served as a “priest” of a familiar spirit by the name of Wiu. This spirit is well known in the Gambela People’s Region as a powerful force for good (so-called) and for evil. The man has two wives, the youngest of whom is a Christian. His children too are Christians. In the past he was respected by many and feared by all, as he was very powerful. But bad things were beginning to happen to his family. From late 2014 to the recent present ten family members died of unnatural causes. So this past weekend, his children went to beg him to denounce the demon and to follow Jesus. At first the man resisted – he too feared the power of this spirit – but after being convinced of the truth of the Gospel and the power of Jesus, he rejected the demon and publicly burned all the fetishes, sacrificial spears, and cultic instruments in his possession. But not only was this one man set free from Satan’s clutches, but many of those who feared and revered him also turned to Jesus, including his first wife!
This is just one story among many. The folks in the Anglican Church here are advancing into areas previously untouched by the Gospel. (There is so much work, especially to the south of us, but we do not have enough trained leaders!) Pray especially for the continuing outreach work among the Majenger and the Tamakoi people groups. Pray also for the many showings of the Jesus Film and pray for our church members, that they may grow to maturity in the faith.
We have also just said goodbye to a wonderful team from South Carolina…and before that, to a team from Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, PA. Both teams helped teach at the Clergy and Mother’s Union Training days in January and February respectively. The latter team taught on the power of prayer and we saw healings taking place as the clergy prayed for each other, crossing both tribal and language barriers as they did so.
This team also had a librarian with them and Barbara taught Louise and Dugassa the Dewey Decimal system – in short, she taught them how to run our library! This has been sorely needed as we now have over 4,000 books in our theological library alone!
IVP UK also graciously donated over 140 kgs of books for our library!!! These books are at present all in the UK so if you know of anyone coming to Ethiopia from the UK, please let us know if they can bring a suitcase full of books with them! We also have books left behind in the US, so the same applies for any of you coming from the US!
We now have application forms out for prospective students. Pray for those whom the Lord has called to be at St Frumentius Anglican Theological College (affectionately known as SFATC) this year!
More prayer requests:
* Pray that we master the Anuak language soon. While we are trying to learn Amharic and Nuer as well, both Louise and I feel the need to concentrate on Anuak, but it is slow going and we are growing anxious to communicate beyond greetings and pleasantries with the community all around us.
* Pray for our own spiritual development and growth. We do not have much input in English save our own personal Bible readings and prayer. Running “dry” will not be good…without Him we can do nothing.
* Pray for our growing relationship with the local kids. We have a sports and library program for all the children in the area and Louise and I are beginning to get to know a few very well. While the language barrier is still a problem, we continue to communicate in signs and wonders. We make signs and they wonder what we mean. (Don McClure said that about his attempts to communicate in Arabic while serving in Khartoum many years ago.)
We are hoping to introduce a film night in the near future, so if any of you have used and unwanted DVD’s (especially those of Richard Attenborough, animated movies like the Lion King or Madagascar, or musicals such as the Sound of Music – while they may not always understand the language they can follow the pictures and the music!) please let us know and we will gratefully take them off your hands. We also like to have personal movie nights when we unwind with Bishop Grant and Doctor Wendy, so any DVD’s are welcome!
* Pray for my teaching on missions at a church retreat during the last week in March.
Louise and I will probably stay in Gambela during the hottest time of the year…February through March (over 130 F/over 50 C!)...before we go to teach at this retreat, so pray that we can handle this! Pray for enough water and electricity during this time as a cool shower and the fans help us sleep at night.
We are also in the planning stages of a trip to the US…pray for wisdom as we try to fit in the unfittable!
Please know that you are never far from our hearts. We remain, as always, grateful for your partnership, your love, support, and prayers.
P. S. I highly recommend “Adventure in Africa: The Story of Don McClure – From Khartoum to Addis Ababa in Five Decades” by Charles Partee
Much love and tons of blessings
Johann and Louise