Friday, March 30, 2007

The Ethiopian's Salvation

Laura and I went to this thing called "dinner with the missionaries" on Wednesday and heard this story that was absolutely amazing from the guy who was speaking. He is currently a student here.

Ok, so he is in a field working with his brothers when he sees a vision of a man carrying a cross on the other side of the field. The man is beaten and bloody, and in a lot of pain. He realizes that his brothers in the field can't see the man, and he begins to become very distressed when he hears a voice say, "This is my son who died for your sins." He began to think and realized that there were many things he had been doing that were bad, and stopped doing them because he could not believe that someone who had never known him would suffer so much for him. He began to tell his brothers and friends about this man who he saw in the field, and that they needed to stop doing what they were doing, and live pure lives. Eventually the lives of those around him began to change as he kept retelling his vision. People began to refer to the man in the vision as the God of (I can't remember his name, but I will make up one) Beniamin because he did not know that this man's name was Jesus.

His father was not as happy. He kept urging him to stop speaking all this foolishness, but he refused. Beniamin said he could not stop talking about this man who suffered for his sins. His father eventually disowned Beniamin.

At this time Ethiopia was under communist rule, and as more and more people began hearing about Beniamin, he was taken to prison and asked to renounce his beliefs. He refused, but they had nothing to charge him with. Every day they would threaten his life, and then take him out to the streets to show him the people they killed the day before (that's where they dumped the bodies after shooting them... if someone went missing, people would search the streets every morning to see if they had been killed), but he still refused. This went on for 21 days (or months it was hard to understand him here) in a row. During his time in jail one of the guards mentioned that there were several others in jail for talking about a similar man in the north. This gave Beniamin hope. He was amazed that there were others in Ethiopia who had heard of this man.

Eventually he was released from prison, and decided to go to the north where he met these protestants who told him that he was a Christian. He continued to preach in the underground church, but was constantly being searched for by the police, and narrowly escaped several times (a whole post could be dedicated to the many stories he told about this). Eventually the communist government was overthrown and they were able to worship in public. He told of a story of a conference he helped organize during a spring break while working with an inter varsity organization where 14,000 people came to the Lord.

There's so much more to his story including learning to read, and how he got here to fuller, but I wanted to retell this to all of you so that you could hear the amazing things God has done in this Brother's life. Your thoughts are always appreciated... leave a comment (if you don't have a google id, choose the anonymous circle)

Wednesday, February 7, 2007


OK, so I've been reading this book by Brad Young called Jesus the Jewish Theologian. If you heard my sermon on the kingdom suffereth violence, a lot of it came from this book. Anyway, in a chapter entitled: "Giving Thanks -- A Way of Life," he talks about the idea of blessing food. He says that pronouncing a blessing to God before eating was common all the way back to the time of Jesus. But the Hebrew idea and Greek term that is translated as blessing (e.g. Lk 9:16) doesn't mean to provide a blessing or to set apart, but rather to worship God by acknowledging his kingdom and his authority. So, we need to bless (worship) God for his provision for us. To bless food then is a basic misunderstanding of blessing. You don't bless a created thing, rather, you bless the source of the created thing -- God.

Obviously, this is a small thing, but interesting, and with interesting implications. When I bless food, the thought behind my words is, bless this food that I have worked for, and make it make me healthy, etc. I usually say "Bless this food and make it nourish my body so I can better serve you." The reality of the situation is that God has given me what I need to nourish my body out of what he owns already (Ps. 24:1), and what needs to happen there is me blessing Him for His provision. Another way of saying what I am garbling out is this: I am usually looking at myself as having provided the food, and asking God to bless what I have provided. In a very small yet repetitive way I am thanking myself, and asking God to add His blessing to what I have blessed my family with. ( I know I ended with a preposition, but I couldn't figure a clear way to say that without it)

Your thoughts...