Just got this yesterday and couldn’t resist passing it on—both for a reality check for us all, and for your prayers on behalf of these brothers and sisters in a Muslim-dominated area of Ethiopia. What an amazing story of the raw reality of the kingdom unfolding in people who from the first days of faith were encouraged to follow Jesus not the rules and rituals men have devised around Christianity.
I first shared Jamal’s story (not his real name) about a year ago. This is a man who came to Christ with the help of a friend of mine in his last few days of study at a university in the States, and returned to his homeland without any training in the ways of Christ much more than the simple admonishment to listen and follow him. If you missed it you’d be blessed to read Part I and Part II of his story. I’ve also changed every name in this story so that no one will be recognized. This is an almost unbelievable tale of courage, forgiveness and the ability of God to work his grace into the most despicable tragedies.
Too long it has been since sitting down I am to write to you. The more of this journey we are on with Jesus the less time we seem to have for such things. This is a sadness to me because your heart and words are always filled with the freshness of the morning rains in pouring out the Spirit to your family here in Ethiopia and to me the more.
Many things have happened here as God continues to weave his grace into the lives of the peoples here like a brightly colored thread becomes a seeing beauty though the hands of the master weaver. The ways in which Jesus is doing this are as many as the peoples here and I am thinking God is giving to me the knowing of why. If it were some pattern then we would be trying to make this with our own hands and following our tiny understanding of it instead of following the heart of our Jesus. He is always reminding us that we are like the ones who only see the back of the weavers shuttle and can not see the wonder of the cloth he is making until it is finished.
Yadid has gone to live with Jesus. We found his body broken by the side of the road. This is the work of evil in the hearts of those so blinded to the truth of Jesus that the evil pours through their hands to take his life so as to make him silent. Next to him we are finding these words he is scratching in the sand as the angels of Jesus are coming for him…”I am still trusting Jesus.” His tongue they have made still, but his voice in the hearts of the peoples can never be silenced. And it is calling many to the path of Jesus more loud and clear than ever he spoke living.
As I am taking his body to his mother I am feeling the heaviness of Jesus words when he is saying not to be thinking about what to say because God will put the words in our mouth only when it is his time when we have none to say. These words are like some of the noodles that are easy to eat, but hard on the stomach when they grow many times after the eating. But these words are also bringing back to me a life when it was as if every step we were carrying Yadid was draining the life out of me like the bottom of the dry river eats away the rain.
And so we are walking down the path to his mothers house and I am thinking I am not even going to speak to his mother because there are no words in my empty heart. Then I am hugging her for a long time and saying to her that we are sad and crying with her because we are not having our friend Yadid to be with us. We are crying for ourselves and for her but it is only the joy of knowing Yadid and what Jesus is doing in his life that is making us cry. The tears are coming from all the goodness we remember and all the joy that is leaving us when he is going to be living now with Jesus. But we are not crying for him because we are knowing that as the rain is washing away the dust of the desert land so the blood of our Jesus has washed away the sins and the old Yadid and the new Yadid that lived with us for a few years is now living with Jesus forever and we are happy when we know that we will see him again walking hand in hand with our Jesus. So many days we are crying with her and some laugher too as we tell the stories of Yadid in her house. I am not sure if I am saying anything right to her and I am hoping you can tell me if this is so. But to me it is the great kindness of our Jesus to give us the words that give life when the peoples are in tears.
We are asking all the peoples with you to be praying for Fabunni. When we are staying with the mother of our Yadid he is coming to the house crawling on his hands to kiss her feet and to ask her to take his life and let there be no more blood to be shed or to make of him a slave until he pays back what he has taken. He is telling us the story of how the evil is in his heart and he is one of the men who is beating our Yadid until he is dieing and he is the one taking him to the road where we are finding his body. And as he is driving, the dieing words of Yadid are telling him the story of Jesus and his great love for Fabunni. He is trying not to be hearing them but they are burning in his soul like a fire. How can this Yadid and the Jesus of his lips be forgiving Fabunni for this terrible thing he has done? This he is asking himself inside while he is trying not to listen. But what his ears will not hear his heart cannot forget and though he is thinking that these words will be the cause of his dying, they are making him alive with the life of our Jesus. He is thinking after leaving the roadside where Yadid is dying that he will forget these words in his heart, but he cannot. So he is falling down on the floor and crying to our Jesus and finding that he is One who answers death with life.
In the Bible he is reading about the tax man Zacheaus and how after Jesus is forgiving him he is asking the people to do this also and saying he will pay back four times what he has taken and so here is Fabunni kissing the feet of the mother of Yadid and saying he and his children will be the slaves of her until four of them are dead. This is too much for her to hear and so she is running into the house and saying to me, “What can I say when my heart is so empty and I am in fear that hate will fill it?” And I am saying to her that I have no words to fill her heart and that only Jesus can do this and so we are all praying for her with our hands on her.
Still Fabunni is laying outside crying with his face in the dirt. I am thinking to myself that Jesus must hurry before he runs out of tears for he cannot bear the emptiness inside himself. So inside many are praying and some are singing to Jesus for a time seeming much longer than it is. Then the mother of our Yadid is going to Fabunni and lifting him up from kissing her feet and saying to him that once her son Yadid was doing evil things that made her lay on her bed and cry many tears into her pillow until Jesus is finding him and giving him a new life and making him a brother. And she is remembering when Yadid is coming to her house to tell her the story of Jesus and how her heart is living again and he is taking away her tears.
And if the words of Jesus from the lips of Yadid are giving life to Fabunni as they have to her, then Fabunni is now the brother of Jesus and Yadid also. And if this is true then Jesus is giving her another son for the one who is taken away and that no tears she is crying for the missing of Yadid can take away this joy of Jesus giving to her another son. These are like the pains of giving birth to a child which are all forgotten when you see his face. And she is saying to everyone in her village that Fabunni is the brother of Yadid and a gift from our Jesus and this is how he is to be treated. And we are saying that this is a work of the heart that only our Jesus can do and everywhere now Fabunni is telling the story of Yadid and Jesus he is working in the hearts of the peoples who are hearing it as only he can do.
And as our hearts are filled with praise to our Jesus we are sneaking a peak at the other side of the cloth he is weaving before us.
Wow! I’m so touched by the grace that unfolds in this story and the perspectives of people just living in the simple reality of his unfolding grace instead of the baggage of theology that can be so distracting.
“Father, be with these dear people today. Give them life and grace and wisdom beyond their own. Surround them with your life today and continue to be revealed in them. In the name of your Son, Jesus.”
Pass it on! The link is “http://lifestream.org/blog/?p=464”