Chain Saws & Tornadoes, Part Two

May 21, 2011 by  
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In Part One we reported about the natural tornado that occurred at Bethel Hill on April 16, 2011. But what about the other tornado?  The spiritual tornado has been focused on the Zobechame congregation in Alaba, Ethiopia for the past 5 years!   The Christians in this area represent about 1% of the total population; the rest are dedicated to the Islam religion.  One of Islam’s characteristics is to claim territory; it is not about co-existence so much as territorial exclusion.  First this congregation was evicted from the small house they were renting.  Then they began to meet out in the country in open land, but the neighbors complained & they were ordered to stop.  They are what I call the “Homeless Congregation”, meaning they have no place to call their own where they can meet “legitimately” to pray together, sing, listen to their elders teach them, etc.

        

(discussing situation with church leaders, land purchased 2007, witchdoctor’s home)

So in 2007, by the grace of God, believers here in America gathered funds to buy a piece of property upon which to build.  The property was nice & flat, right across the street from the new hospital, in an “upscale” (rural-Ethiopia style) neighborhood.   It was a pure miracle that the Muslim owner was willing to sell us the land!  Almost immediately, however, the tornado intensified.  The neighbors objected, “We don’t want anything Christian in our neighborhood.”  The Muslim civic authorities decided to stall the permits; “We have to recheck the zoning.”  And lastly the Witch Doctor next door to the property had a rigger!   The evil spirit of the Witch Doctor could not co-exist with the holy spirit of the believers!   From 2007 to 2010 the Mother Church (which planted the Zobechame congregation) struggled with this spiritual tornado.  They opened a kindergarten for the children of the neighbors; this made them happy.  The civil case was taken to higher courts, who settled that the church could build there.  And the Witch Doctor was put in prison for fraud!  So finally, the door was open to build the church on the property.

  

(construction supplies now on site, Zobechame children in front of their church kindergarten)

But the tornado of inflation had caused it’s damage….what was going to cost $5,000 now was requiring $40,000!  Yes!  It is impossible for us Americans to fathom such inflation.  We complain when the price of bananas goes from 34 cents to 48 cents to 54 cents over 3 years.  But in Ethiopia, they have consistently had prices more than double EACH YEAR for the past several years.  Even now, as you read this blog, the price is continuing to climb, and the people are suffering.  At one point last year, all government employees were given a 100% pay raise, just to help them cope with the inflation.

Enter Hillions on the Rosewood Farm!  The farm needed some brush clean-up.  Rather than pay an outside business to do the work, the owners volunteered to pay the Zobechame church!  The call went out for volunteers, and people responded….20 of them, men, women & young people.  Folks came from Mt. Gilead Baptist Church in Fayetteville, NC, and some students joined us from the Seminary.  A third church, Union Baptist in Ahoskie, NC, could not join us physically, but they took up an offering for the Zobechame congregation.  At the end of the day over $2500 was raised to help the Zobechame congregation recover from this spiritual tornado.  Combined with other gifts, we now have over 25% of the (projected) funds needed.

    

(Mission Work Day at the Farm)

Is the tornado work done?  Absolutely not. 

  • Prayer is needed for the emotional healing of those traumatized.
  • Prayer is needed for the spiritual fruit of the healing ministry, that people touched will yield to His Gospel
  • More cleanup is needed; each Saturday volunteers can come to the church to help with more cleanup; see Dudley Dawson for details
  • More funds are needed; donations can be made payable to Bethel Hill Baptist Church & sent to BeckyLynn Black, 2591 White House Rd., Nelson, VA 24580; the funds will be earmarked for the Zobechame building & added to the Operation Ethiopia fund at church.