Greetings dear friends!
I hope you’re all doing well in the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
Well…after a few needed extensions to my stay here I finally purchased my return ticket to the states…God willing I will be flying out next Thursday. It is bittersweet for sure…a lot of emotions as I write this.
Though I have sensed for quite some time that my time living here was coming to an end it has certainly been a gradual process of discerning Gods timing and coming to peace that it is now clearly time to leave. When I returned to Ethiopia the end of January I was sensing that this would probably be my last time living here but was not fully sure. After much prayer, seeing things here and many conversations I woke up on Saturday, March 26 (after 2 months in Ethiopia) with an assurance that it was clearly time to set things in motion to leave.
Reflecting back this morning to almost 19 years ago I realize that my leaving is in the same fashion as my coming. At that time I had been sensing for a while that God might be calling me to Ethiopia and then mid morning one September day in 2004 it became clear and real to me that God was indeed calling me here.
I’m a slow learner sometimes but I believe one of the lessons here is that God always reveals His will in His time and in a way that we can understand. The process may seem long and agonizing to us at times but Gods timing always proves to be perfect. I now see clearly that if I would not have had these four months here in Ethiopia I would have missed some of the richest and most important times of my 18+ years here. What (the past 4 months) has been a time of uncertainty and in many ways anguishing has proved to be Gods perfect timing and one of the most meaningful and important seasons of my life. Gods ways are perfect!
Below are just a few bullet point highlights of this trip (wow, I have a deep sense of joy as well as of sadness as I am writing this morning).
-The joy of seeing young men and women that I have walked with for many years now stepping into key leadership roles in the church and leading the church into a new and exciting day! It’s fulfilling to see so many dreams that we used to discuss now coming to reality. One such dream that is now coming to pass is seeing the doctors and medical students in our church spearheading a monthly community medical outreach.
-The joy of seeing our partner school in Wonji continue to grow in the number of students served (over 1000 now), new facilities being added and to see the amazing academic results of the students (some of the best in the nation).
-Had meaningful and productive times with friends/ministry partners who were visiting from the states.
-Sharing major moments in our church families life including university graduations, recent graduates beginning their careers and baby’s being born.
-Quality and impactful times with our church leadership team and those serving on our different teams.
-Casting vision and strategizing on how to best move forward in our work here (with our church as well as with partner ministries) as I relocate.
-Special and meaningful times with so many dear friends.
-Eating as much delicious Ethiopian food as possible.
-I’ve been blown away and deeply ministered to by the unexpected times of celebrating our life and service together with our church and with partner ministries.
-A fruitful trip to Cape Town to visit one of our partner churches and to see the progress (especially in the areas discipleship and leadership development) that they have made since my last trip there. And I also enjoyed some great food, a few refreshing dips in the ocean and some great hikes while being in my favorite city!
I am so thankful for the love and support that each of you have demonstrated over the years and I want to thank all who have reached out with encouragement, prayer and financial support in this time of transition. Your notes of encouragement, letting me know that you’re praying for me and asking how you can help in this time have meant a lot to me! Thank you!
As I head back to the states I am still not sure of my next steps. I will be in Raleigh initially as I further explore this next season of my life. At this strategic point in my life I want to be sure of Gods plans and to make sure my next steps count. I have many ideas that I will be exploring/praying through and am confident that God will make His will clear in this coming season just as He did in bringing me to Ethiopia and in His leading me back to the States.
I will be exploring some new career opportunities but also have some ideas concerning further full time ministry/missions…or possibly more of a bi-vocational role.
I would greatly appreciate your continued prayers in this time. I also want to ask if you would consider continuing your financial support (for me personally) for the next 2-3 months as I figure things out and get established stateside.
Even though I will not be living in Ethiopia I will continue to be involved in our ministries here and hope to visit regularly Based on this I would also like to ask those of you who are contributing to our Missions and Friends of WSE School accounts (which directly support our ministries here) if you would consider continuing partnering with us in these important ministries. By Gods grace and your partnerships we have accomplished a lot here and I believe we still have a lot of possibilities ahead!
Please email me if you have any questions or you can reach me at (984) 500-8141 when I get back to the states.
Thanks and many blessings!