Learning from an Ethiopian brother.

While in Ethiopia we had the opportunity to have lunch with Pastor Yohannes Girma.  He is known as Pastor Johnny and is a dynamic and humble pastor and worship leader.

He shared his story of coming to faith.  He grew up in the faith, but became disenchanted by church/religion. One night while playing guitar and singing with his brother the Holy Spirit touched him and moved in his heart.  He began to talk to people about Jesus and wrote worship songs and started a church.

I was inspired by his vision and focus.  He is seeking to:

  • See people experience spiritual transformation through Jesus.  His belief is that if someone is changed by God then everything can change.
  • Strengthen families so that they can be a blessing to the church family and the wider community.
  • Strengthen people economically by helping them follow their dreams and provide micro-loans that give people the opportunity to provide for themselves.
  • Develop the wider community and provide key services to assist the community.
  • Be involved in national development (impact and serve the nation.)

He spends time regularly investing in men and professionals to develop them as leaders so they can lead smaller groups of 20-30 people.  His heart is not to create professional Christians, but to help develop Christian professionals.

During my time with Pastor Johnny I was challenged to dream bigger dreams, invest in people who can invest in people, and continue to see that Jesus truly makes all the difference!

I thank God for the chance to meet with an Ethiopian brother in the faith and to learn from what God is doing in and through him.

Here is a video of Pastor Johnny leading worship.  (In blue suit playing guitar.)


On my last day in Ethiopia my group was riding in a van and came to a stop.  As usual people approached the windows to beg for food or money.  We were instructed to not give money.  But, we had brought some snacks to eat from home and decided to give some to people.

I passed out a bag of Cheez-its to a woman and her small child.  Then an older woman approached my window.  As I prepared to hand out a Kudos bar, she held up both hands and all of her fingers were missing.  She had two palms that looked worn.  She was dirty and looked very poor.  As she looked me in the eye I placed the Kudos bar between her two palms.  Our hands touched.

We pulled away and I had the strongest urge to grab a bottle of anti-bacterial lotion and cleanse my hands.  I wanted to stay clean.  But, I resisted the urge…

As we drove away I wrestled within my heart.  I  thought of Jesus touching the lepers, the unclean and the outcasts.  He met practical needs, but also shared his very life.  He seemed so comfortable in uncomfortable circumstances.

So, I resisted the urge to use the anti-bacterial lotion…

… for 10 min.

Kudos to Jesus for showing us how to truly love.

Help me God to stop trying to protect myself and stay tidy and clean.  Bless the woman with the Kudos bar.  Amen.

“Me, America.”

Kids on Mount Entoto

While in Ethiopia we traveled to Mount Entoto.  This historical site is covered with Eucalyptus trees (thanks to Menelik II & Australia) and provides a beautiful view of the city of Addis Ababa.  There is an Orthodox church on the top of the mountain that people, seeking healing, travel to.

As we walked around, taking in the sites and history, a small group of kids came over asking for money.  (Begging is very common in Ethiopia and we were encouraged to not give money to beggers, which is VERY hard NOT to do.) I began to chat with the kids in my broken Amharic.  I asked them what their names were and how old they were.  I asked about their parents and most had lost one parent.  I told them I was sorry.  We were smiling at each other and a little boy said, “Me, America.” I understood what he meant immediately from his choice of words and body language.  He said it again, “Me. America.”  In his limited English he was gesturing to me and asking to be taken to America.

I kindly replied, “Sorry, no.  Ethiopia.”

What does the future hold for this young boy and his friends trying to make ends meet by begging on the mountain?

“God, today, give hope to that boy.  Provide for his family and bless them.  Help him to know he is loved.  Amen.”

So much need.  God help.


“I wanna hold your hand…”

On my visit to Ethiopia I noticed that men and women often are quite physically affectionate toward close friends.  It is not uncommon to see men walking arm and arm or women walking holding hands.  You could say that it is a country of “huggers.”

When I greeted men we would shake our right hands and then would to a chest bump/half hug up close.  When I greeted women we would shake our right hands and then touch cheeks on the left, the right, and then the left.

On one trip we were leaving a more rural area and the guy who was helping translate for us was walking with me and grabbed my hand.  There we were holding hands in friendship.  Maybe I was walking too slow and he thought I needed to speed up.  🙂  My dad thought he’d take the photo above of our little friendship walk…

Although I’m not much of a touchy person I really appreciated the way people showed affection for one another.  Afterall, the Bible tells us to greet one another with a holy kiss.