Just before Thanksgiving Luke Wrobleski and I got the opportunity to travel for a quick 3 days in country to visit with our friends and partners at Leku Keta Church in Ethiopia. We wanted to encourage and reconnect with them since it had been several years since we were able to travel and we also wanted to begin planning a future trip for later in 2023. Here is a peek at those 3 days in country and a video of Bifa expressing his thanks in front of the new shops we helped their church build during covid!
Spent Saturday talking with Pastor Mulgeta and Bifa. Bifa told us the school has grown to 90 students enrolled with a waitlist. This is a huge answer to prayer as they had only 35 students the last few years and were losing money. They have made several improvements to the school classrooms and adding a playground and added teachers. This has all resulted in them receiving a higher accreditation from the government and increasing demand for enrollment!
We got to see Johannes who is now 13! He is living full time with Bifa and everyone from the world orphans staff commented on what a positive impact this has made on Johannes to have Bifa as his caregiver. He helps around the church and school and Bifa is teaching him weaving as well.
We took a tour of the 3 shops that the church help build on the corner of the church property. All 3 are rented and producing income for the church! The corner shop is a small market, one of them has 2 looms used to weave and another is being rented by someone in the empowerment program who is also living there.
There are 2 more shops across the street that also were built during covid that are also being rented, these were built by a woman from maine who has been connected to their church. She also helped them dig a 500 ft well on the church property costing around $30,000. She is attempting to help raise another $20,000 for a 3-phase pump and to run power to it so Leku Keta can bless and provide for their neighbors with the well. This will also help the church become even more sustainable.
We also spent time with some of the caregivers in the home based care program who are also part of the empowerment program. The empowerment program provides them with 4 rounds of funding that they pay back as they work to grow their own business and provide for their family. I realized while sitting there that this group was almost entirely new as those in the empowerment program from before had all graduated, started business and paid back their loans!
This group mostly started with business selling vegetables, plastics, and used clothing. The confidence was obvious in those that had been in the program the longest and you could tell the affect their meeting with social worker and training had. The newest to the program were still very shy and took some encouragement to open up and share. Luke and I realized while sitting there that the very act of telling their story again and again was something that God was using to heal and reform them. We are grateful for the ways World Orphans cares so well for those in the program.
Sunday morning we had an adventure getting to church because of a special “pedestrian day” in which several main roads were closed to motor traffic. We eventually found a route and got to church after it had started. I was asked to preach at Leku Keta which was a lot of fun and pastor Mulgeta took the opportunity to preach and encourage one of the newer church plants.
Their church has 4 church plants across the city and in addition to all that is happening at Leku Keta pastor spends time with these leaders every week. It seriously is incredible the scope and impact of this small church on the city and the region around it. I got a big hug from one of the church leaders and evangelist Walto and it was great to see some familiar faces and greet old friends.
After we finished service we took Bifa with us out to lunch and did some hiking at the Entobo Park on top of the hill overlooking Addis. We enjoyed
time with Bifa and talked about all that is changing in his life as he is getting married in just 2 months. We spent time encouraging him and learning about his fiancé Sara.
We finished our time in Ethiopia Monday recording some videos and a special bbq lunch with the pastors and evangelists at the church. We heard some stories of how God has been at work in their midst during the last few years.
After lunch we returned to the church for a special coffee ceremony where
we presented the church with a special coffee tray Luke crafted in the humblewood workshop and some Love Your Neighbor shirts in Amharic.
We then spent an hour listening to the elders, Bifa and Pastor Mulgeta share some of what they would like to see happen in a future trip.
They talked about the benefit of the medical clinics we have helped host in the past and the favor they have gained in their neighborhood as a result of it. Pastor also shared the need for some training around the bible as they now have several church plants and new leaders stepping up. We talked through some dates and enjoyed some time of prayer for one another and then more fellowship before heading off to the airport!
We are looking at returning with a team in July of this year and can’t wait to see our friend in Ethiopia again! They mentioned several times to please share their love and their appreciation for the people of Pulpit Rock.
Thank you church for all the ways you pray, support and give to our partnership in Ethiopia. Its making an impact and an incredible encouragement to their church on the other side of the world!