In Which a Witch Doctor Goes to Church
“Today we took Gopeeleo to church for the first time.
He arrived before the sun was up and was waiting at our gate dressed in his new clothes. I had told our guard to let him in when he arrived, and there he stood with a big smile on his face.
We still had an hour before we were to leave, so we invited him to have breakfast with us. I don’t think that he’s ever been in a firengee’s house before (“firengee” means white foreigner, which is what all white people are called whether you’ve been in Ethiopia five days or 50 years). His eyes were wide with wonder as he glanced about our house and watched me cook (I realize it is a great wonder to see me cook…Ha!) When we ate he had a hard time navigating the fork (people eat with their hands here), so Mark and I put our forks down and ate our eggs and toast with our hands.
Then a beggar woman came to walk with us to church. One of our neighbors had taken her in, and had brought her to us for help. She only believes in the power of Mary, but we’ve already had some good talks about Jesus. So here she comes with no shoes, dressed in rags with a huge goiter (from lack of iodine) on her neck, and next to her stands our former witchdoctor in his new clothes! We must have been quite a sight walking down the road.
Gopeeleo was struggling bravely to walk in his new shoes (he kept insisting that they fit fine, but they’re really a couple of sizes too big). He was having such a hard time walking that Mark finally ran back to get our motorcycle and give him a ride to church.
So Mark and Gopeeleo got there a little earlier than the rest of us, and Mark said that the people were singing when they arrived. Gopeeleo just joined right in, raising his hands in worship and praising his new Lord and Savior.
At the end of the service Gopeeleo went up to the front of the church to testify of his salvation (Mark and I went up with him), and the people began rejoicing with us! As the oldest of the elders slowly walked forward to pray for him, the whole congregation got on their faces to pray. The elder took his shoes off and prayed half an hour for Gopeeleo, and then he tenderly held Gopeeleo in his arms and thanked God for his salvation.
I sat in stillness awe watching these two men who were once opposing forces, but now have become brothers in Christ. Many people came up and hugged Gopeeleo, and I know he was touched by the acceptance and love of all the people that day.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for your prayers. This journey in Ethiopia is arduous, exciting, exhausting, joyous, frightening and hopeful—all at the same time. I’m praising God with you…and for you.
Dear friends, please keep Mark and Sidney and the person-to-person ministry God has called them into in your prayers. They are on the front lines against the strongholds of darkness that have long held the remote parts of Africa enchained.
Also, as read the changes in Gopeeleo’s life, we can learn some universal truths sharing the love and good news of Jesus.
1. We can make Christ available. Offer his hope to those WE are in contact with and let them decide.
So often we keep our mouths shut tight and don’t even make an offer of this good hope we have in Jesus.
2. Be generous.
Mark and Sidney have generously reclothed this witch doctor, they have given their time and money to walk him through the doorway into victory. They share meals and the good food of the word of God.
We like it when the Holy Spirit moves in our time-frame, but this doesn’t always happen! God knows who he is going to bring and when he’s going to bring them to our doorstep or in our path. Be willing to trust that God knows who is responding to the Holy Spirit’s leading. We can “put down our forks” and we can let the unexpected visitor come along. It’s a privilege to participate.
4. Be willing to step out.
Mark and Sidney began this journey several years ago when they volunteered for a short time at the Soddo Christian hospital. They took a step in faith to serve. Then they came home and waited. They are in Soddo now because they walked in faith, then waited for leading and walked in faith again.
We can pause and pray for the Launders. We can also pray that we might be listening, too for God’s call in our own lives.
Where is God calling you today?