A team of three took off for Ethiopia recently, to spend five days investing in leaders: my wife and I, along with a young woman whose church is prayerfully considering the partnership, and she herself is discerning a possible gap year or longer in mission service after completing grad school.
As the short-term mission team prepared to leave the city, I told God, "You need to find someone for this city, because it's great, and what You have for it is great!" He said, "How about you?" Then I called my wife…
We were impacted by the love and welcome we received, by the beauty of the country, the incredible poverty; and were amazed at the resilience of the team who had to endure visa problems, water and electricity cuts, no basic medical care, and so much more.
In the Vineyard we are committed to the cause of raising up and releasing indigenous leaders, empowering local leaders to create authentically Vineyard movements that are also authentic to their local culture, and planting the kingdom seed in the fertile soil of their land and working alongside our friends to cultivate the growth.
Palu sits right on the equator on a lovely bay surrounded by mountains. The region is predominantly Muslim, and Ramadan was still going on so a lot of restaurants were closed during the day. Palu is a city known for extremist activity since the local teachings tend to be more fundamentalist, and radicals can easily hide in the nearby mountains. Our brothers and sisters in Jesus live with this stress every day, yet they continue to show God's love and remain joyful.
I’m sometimes asked, “Why missions? Why bother?” How does participating in the Ethiopia Partnership strengthen our local congregation at Renaissance Vineyard Church? Missions is a great context for discipleship. Jesus did so much of his discipleship “along the way.”
We connected with the pastor we were supposed to visit the next day. He was able to get the owner of the hotel to open their doors for us, yet there was no restaurant in the hotel. They slaughtered their only goat for our dinner, then the pastor and his team began to wash our muddy feet in friendship and holy welcome. I wept, feeling as if I had gone back in time, and was living in a Bible story straight out of the Book of Acts.
Jeff Cannell, Pastor of Central Vineyard in Ohio, tells of his most recent trip to Cambodia. He says, “We sent people out in groups of three on prayer walks. My group literally prayed at each fork on our paths whether to go left or right...we ended up in a marsh containing a shelter…”
In February 2017, Jim Egli visited Cote d’Ivoire and reports: One former-Muslim Christian leader, summarizes what has taken place in the past year, “It’s a miracle! I have seen missionaries give 20 years of their lives, and I’ve never seen this much happen.”
With the tears that flowed that Sunday before the trip, a fresh wind has blown through our congregation. Worship has been more intimate, prayer ministry has been more powerful, and ownership of our mission from our neighborhood to the nations has continued to rise. That’s Local Church Based Mission in action, as the whole church reaps the reward of the local church engaging in mission together to other local churches.