Could the Ethio-Eritrea Peace Treaty put the Eritrean Evangelical Church in Danger?

As my family and I were celebrating the peace treaty between Ethiopia and Eritrea the other day we talked about some of our friends who are Eritrean and who have families they haven’t seen in more than 20 years and what this means for them. We’ve been rejoicing over the news that around 400 evangelical believers were released from prison and asked one another if our dear friends husband was one of them. Our friend was lucky enough to make it out of Eritrea but her husband and kids were left there, he was imprisoned for his faith in Christ Jesus and he took his sentencing as his ministry to those in prison, she on the other hand has been on a journey of rebuilding a life destroyed by war and trying to find her kids whom she was separated with in refugee camps.
Two days after finding out all this good news, I saw a video of a supposed “prophet” who traveled from Ethiopia to Eritrea on THE FIRST flight out there once the peace treaty was signed and he apparently preached on the streets (had a crusade). The video was excruciating to watch as he was yelling and crying out loud as people around him were saying yes and amen. In my head I’m thinking, wait why are you there in a country that’s been closed for missions and hasn’t been allowed to openly practice faith for decades and what is your yelling going to produce? Really, do people think those who have been paying with their lives, for the spread of the Gospel for more than 20 years need a so called prophet to make mockery out of their faith in public 2-3 days after the government signed a peace treaty? Really???? Where is the common sense in this??? What does one’s mega phone screaming of Jesus saves going to produce in the lives of those needing to hear the good news?? Please someone help me understand…..???? WHAT ARE YOU DOING!!
Let me break it down for you:
1) For those who are still in prison or recently released, their reality is that their wives/husbands & kids are scattered around the globe in refugee camps and they still need to find a way to connect with them, and figure a way out to rebuild their lives. Please don’t make their lives even more difficult by your immature and impulsive actions?
2) For those who have been quietly worshiping God in underground churches, they still have a long way to go in order to find a middle ground with the government to be allowed to gather and worship in public, LEGALLY and SAFELY. Your actions are only going to raise a flag to the government that Ethiopian prosperity gospel is going to take over Eritrea as well, there fore they should probably delay their public gathering.
3) For those who are seeking and searching for truth, they need to hear the Gospel from someone who can teach them the journey of this suffering filled life called christianity. Being a student of the life and death of Jesus Christ is not glamorous as the so called prophets would make it look. It is painful on this side of heaven, and one that costs ones life. It costed Jesus his life, and his disciples theirs, and our Eritrean brothers and sisters theirs. Don’t make a mockery of the Lord, He is not man to be mocked.
4) The Eritrean Church wrote a very polite” letter to Ethiopian Evangelicals with a message that basically says “thanks for coming and we love you but please don’t come back again, we have enough of our problems to deal with don’t add fire to the flame”.  My gosh, can we wake up and respect the wishes of the Eritrean Church, let them lead the way and ask how you can help make their lives easier. Don’t push your own agenda of prosperity and fame….please in the name of God I beg you! Let’s back off!
Ethiopia has enough of a prosperity gospel plague that has taken over the minds and souls of our people and we need to do a lot of healing, let us not spread it to the rest of the continent, especially one that is not ready to deal with outside problems yet…let our brothers and sisters breath, let them taste freedom at least for a day and pick up the pieces. Let them seek God and ask Him where he would have them go, and let us ask how we can support them and come along side of them. We have so much to learn, let us be quick to listen and slow to speak. May God give us wisdom and discernment to be involved in a way that will only glorify Christ and bless our Eritrean brothers and sisters.
With Love,
#Thekokebproject
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The Vitality of Accurate Story Telling

Just finished watching The Diaspora Journal by Nathan Araya and wow, I’m speechless. My heart is so full of joy and gratitude for such beautiful story tellers our culture has, when I write about the vitality of accurate story telling in the missions world, I mean this type of accuracy.

1) Nathan’s heart is simply to know and learn about his people thus goes with such an open heart, wanting to discover and learn.

2) He wants to experience life just like his fellow Ethiopians and does every job that is considered undesirable, but his joy shines through the whole movie as he tries everything and at times ridicules himself.

3) He dignifies each person he highlights as he tells their story by talking about their strength and what he learned from them. These people are not “other” to him thus he sees their dignity past their physical circumstances. You don’t see him feeling sorry for any one of them, he respects their reality, he doesn’t insert himself in their story and center himself and try to rescue them…he knows their story has value, meaning and a rich history.

4) He starts the documentary talking about the faith and perseverance of his grand father that was passed on to his mom and now to him…he closes by talking about the importance of serving where God has placed you and reminding us how we’re a part of each others story.

Friends, it’s important to know the stories of those we go to serve, this documentary was so accurate that I cried, laughed and forgot where I was for the 45 minutes I was watching it.  It took me back home, brought back all the memories and feelings of being in Ethiopia.  That’s why I write about accurate story telling  so strongly. https://faithfullymagazine.com/tgcs-article-africa-western…/
Our monetary status doesn’t give us the authority to speak into people’s lives. We are all made in God’s image thus need to respect each others stories and tell it with dignity.

Thank you Nathan for honoring our culture, stories, joy and strength. May the Lord continue to bless your efforts!

To watch the documentary go https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1oufx-25uqo

The Meaning of Motherhood

This Mother’s Day I want to share what I’ve learned about being a mother in the past few years I’ve had the privilege of being one.

Accountability

Motherhood is hard but it’s good, it’s taught me to be self motivated and learn and grow from my experiences so  that my baby doesn’t experience the mess that spills over from unresolved conflicts, unforgiven hurts and unlearned lessons.  I can’t afford that anymore, I can’t be passive aggressive about growth or timid towards conflict, I have to be bold because I’m her mother and she deserves to be taught truth and I cannot teach what I haven’t walked through. Motherhood holds me accountable, it pushes me to seek truth and do what is right so I can give the best to my child and pray that God blesses it. I have to be better than I was yesterday so she can learn how to work hard, how to go through change and how to be still when needed.

Choice

I’m responsible for my actions, for my decisions and for my shortcomings. This is not some self help thing but the truth that motherhood has allowed me to embrace. I cannot make selfish decisions that’ll be at the cost of my baby. Whether it be time, money or kisses, I choose to invest them on her in abundance because I choose her. I choose to spend time kissing her face instead of ……(insert what you like) for me it’s exploring the city all by myself…it’s been ages 🙂 but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  I cannot steal time from her because it’ll cost her far greater than what it’ll me, and in reality it doesn’t cost me anything it only adds beauty and meaning to my life. It’s such a win win and I love it.

Prayer

Motherhood continues to teach me to pray, to rely on the Lord for all the fears that creep up in my head and make my heart hurt a bit.  Fears that stem from knowing how evil and unjust this world is for such an innocent little girl. Fears of inflicted wounds from hurt people who know only how to hurt, fears that stem from knowing I am not sufficient to protect and guard all of her experiences. But these fears truly lead me to my knees, I pray to God for his guidance, protection and redemption. I pray for good friends, kind teachers, gentle men and fierce mentors. I pray for God’s hedge of protection to debilitate (yes I said debilitate when it comes to my baby my prayers are fiery and loud and bold) the enemy’s power and extinguish his fiery darts.

Hope

I love to imagine all the beautiful possibilities this little one has in front of her, I loosely hold all my dreams and hopes for her knowing that the one who created her has the say and I’m simply the facilitator of His call on her life. Whatever He calls her to, I hope and pray and seek and wait with excitement to see her go and live it out, as I anticipate all the beautiful ways she’s going to bless this world and her family. This gift that God has blessed me with is one that keeps giving because she’s a daily reminder to keep going, believing, trusting and seeking the one who created this sweet little miracle and a glimpse of his mysteries. I praise God for this gift and pray for a Christ seeking journey and a redeemed heart that knows to follow Him wherever He calls her.

To the Mothers reading this, Happy Mothers day! I’d love to hear what motherhood has taught you, can you comment below? And if you you’re not a mother yet or having a baby is not in the picture…we are called to be spiritual mothers so tell me about those you’re discipling, mentoring and leading?

Constant Struggle with Loss

The feeling of loss, is one I wrestle with often and one I probably will carry heavy on my heart as long as I live in America, where it’s a constant reminder of being a foreigner, where I constantly find myself longing to grasp on to something familiar that’d bring me comfort and a safe childhood memory and help me be grounded. The truth though is  that nothing around me is familiar, it’s all a new reality, a new home and a new comfort that doesn’t go to the depth of this loss that creeps in me when I miss home, my real earthly home where I grew up, where I took my first steps and learned how to talk, read and write.  The home where everything is familiar, comfortable and known, where it feels like my whole community is my family, where there is no isolation behind closed doors, where people find serenity amongst being in each others presence.

This sense of home is what my mom brings with her when she comes to visit us from Ethiopia, all the familiarities from my childhood, my old way of life and norms come alive again. This time she stayed with us for ten full beautiful months, and she served us with so much humility and grace. My mom is the real deal, her example to me is and has always been “Less of me and more of Christ”. Tt never fails, she exudes total humility and surrender to the Lord, thus she gives just that to those around her.

This morning we said our goodbyes because she had to go back, but as always I found myself struggling with wanting to follow her, and just go to the place where I know I’ll feel grounded, I can’t lose this comfortable place in my heart and I find myself tempted to go back home. To me, if I didn’t know the Lord, if I couldn’t take comfort in knowing that America or Ethiopia is not my real home but heaven is, I don’t know if I could have walked this immigrant walk well. I’m grateful to the Lord who makes my life and journey meaningful by reminding me the richness of this journey he has me on, and it’s service as a constant reminder of the longing for heaven.

This loss is a tough one because of it’s reoccurance, when you go through a break up or lose a friend, you can grieve the loss in one process no matter how long or short it takes but this loss is so constant and so painful. I’ve been dealing with it for over 14 long years but overtime I think I’ve conquired it, it comes back. It’s as deep and fresh as when I first experienced it as a teenager who left home trusting the calling God had placed in her heart to follow him and make disciples. The pain makes me forget why I’m here in the first place and pushes me to question and reprioritize my life. Is it worth it, is the call to ministry, to life as the other, the outsider and all the sense of unfamiliarity worth being here? But then, when all the emotion hanging over me subdues I remember the reason I’m here, it’s not my doing but the Lord’s. Not my calling but His, and not my journey but one he paved for me, so I end up saying, heck yea! It’s all worth it compared to the face of Christ I get to see clearer and closer every time I experience this loss, the realness of his comfort to my soul, the true community I experience only found among believers, It’s worth it because this loss forces me to rely on Jesus and His people.

I love this verse “….. but we rejoice in our sufferingsknowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces characterand character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shamebecause God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been givento us.” Romans 5:3-5 This is the reality of my soul at the moment, the hope found in trusting God’s work of sanctification in my heart.

It’s a tough journey but, if it wasn’t tough, I would have nothing to help me dig deeper in the word, to find my comfort in the presence of the Spirit of God himself and to let myself break down and watch the father restore me back to the way he wants to remake me. I am a vessel in his hands, and this loss of separating from those I love the most breaks me EVERY TIME! BUT, my father restores me making me stronger than before EVERY TIME….and I wouldn’t trade that for anything! To be in his presence is better than life itself and I know that so well.