Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Plunk August 07 Update

Dear Supporters,

Kids in the office.

Last week I taught through Mark 7: 1-23 where Jesus talks about what is clean and unclean. This is a profound passage in my context where people struggle not only with the spiritual laws imposed upon them by the Orthodox Church, but also the reality of having a stigmatizing disease. I encouraged them that they do not have to follow the ceremonial laws of the Old Testament and that they should not let anyone look down on them for not doing certain things like fasting on particular days. For it is not things that go in to you that make you unclean, but what comes out from you shows where your heart is. I could tell this was creating cognitive dissonance between human tradition here and gospel. Afterwards, a staff member told me that a special 15 days of fasting had just begun for the Orthodox Church. This Monday, I also had the pleasure of teaching through chapter 19 in the Westminster Confession, which clarifies how we should view the Old Testament law after Christ. I was amazed at the Lord’s sovereignty in this. How much tradition lies in American Christianity that should be expunged?

There are a lot of exciting things going on in the project. I am now trying to do spiritual/emotional counseling in Bole, Lideta, and Kolfe . I have also started doing more office work in Bole with Danny and am teaching a few men’s support groups in Bole through my Mark study. Most have only heard the Gospel through teams that come here, so they are very open and interested. Through the weekly bible studies and support groups, they are now getting more exposure to the spiritual aspect of life. One man in particular, Bizuayou, is very interested in hearing how the Protestant church is different from the Orthodox. He’s seen the help we give to people in the project, and also that we do not have fasting days etc.

I am very excited about the boys program in Lideta. Derek and I have started prevention teaching. I will discuss why there is disease, moral law, and sex in the proper context of marriage while Derek will explain what HIV is from the medical side. So far, they have had good questions and have been interested. They have already asked about using holy water as well as ARVs, which is a difficult subject.

Our project has recently been given the task by the government of providing Anti-retroviral therapy (ART) counseling in all the health centers in the city of Addis Ababa. This is an enormous responsibility, but is a great gift from God as we expand a positive influence to those who are hurting. Many new people will need to be hired for this. The funding for this has been acquired, and we are waiting on it.

The rain is still coming down with temperatures in the 40s-50s. This feels quite odd knowing that it is summer at home. However, some friends and I are about to go on a ten day trip to Egypt and hope the weather changes when we get back.

Prayer Requests

1. For my Egypt trip. It will be a ten day trip starting next week, and will be great to get out of Addis for a while.

2. Pray for Derek as he will soon attempt to upgrade the lab possibly at the Bole Health Center and try to do a research project on Tuberculosis. Many details are not known yet for either, and pray for all the right equipment to be acquired here and from the states.
3. For the boys program and for the boys as they start school again in early September as well as for my support groups as I am finishing out the book of Mark in Bole and Lideta in the next 2 months.
4. For all the logistics and hiring of staff to put in all the health centers and for our funding to come in for this.
5. Pray for plans to hold a luncheon for the orphans of our Lideta project on New Year’s day here (Sept 11th). It’s cultural to have lunch with your families during this time, so we hope to provide something similar for them.
6. Pray for Gizaw as he works with three Ethiopian churches to begin the process of sending 75 of our beneficiaries to be cared for by them.
7. Pray for other people and churches in America to partner with the project by coming and/or funding as we expand into the third project site and start working with Ethiopian churches.