By Stephen Kennedy

Our Journey in Ethiopia ....

Dear Beloved in Christ,

Our Lord is Mighty to Save

Since our last update we have been blessed to see our God at work in many ways. We had the joy of traveling to the countryside as a family. IOI held two bible conferences on marriage and family life. We had the joy of seeing two ladies repent and believe at the Sooki church plant, one of which had been afflicted by a demon for 35 years. We have been actively involved in marriage counseling with some friends who are struggling. In each of these things we have been reminded over and over of the power of God's Word and the truth of the gospel.

Each year the ministry of IOI holds a bible conference for our ministers. This year we taught on marriage and family life. We held one conference in the city over two days for the Amharic speakers, then another the following week in the countryside for those who speak Oromifa. It was a joy to speak of biblical truth in this essential area of the Christian life. Many ministers shared their struggles and asked us to come to their churches and help them to deepen their personal understanding and strengthen their churches in this area. In between sessions we met and discussed struggles they are facing and sought to counsel them from the scriptures (one of these meetings can be seen in the photo below of Brian, Negash and I sitting on the wood pile).

I had the great joy of taking my family with me to the countryside conference. We stayed in a village called Maket. We "camped" in tents next to the mud hut of the minister. Our girls really enjoyed going there during their break from school. They played with the local children who all seemed to enjoy having the girls in and out of their homes, playing with their animals, etc.

The final day in the countryside we visited a village named Reche where several new believers were baptized (including one former witchdoctor and his son!). During the baptism we sat by the river and watched (picture of the three girls sitting on the ground below). It had taken a long time to hike to the little muddy river and the girls began asking what we were doing. There were many from the community gathered around washing clothes and watering their animals in the river. I told the girls that these new Christians were showing everyone that they love and are following Jesus. Elise said "He is our Jesus too!" Nora replied "I love Jesus, and I believe in him and I trust him, and I like him." It was very sweet to see our little girls confessing their love for Christ as new believers confessed their faith through being baptized.

At the Sooki church plant one young mother came to a service. She has been passing through many very difficult trials and as she heard the gospel she said that there was no other hope for her and she repented and believed. A second woman came and it was clear she had a demonic problem. We pray every Wednesday morning as leaders of the church and she came to the compound and began to scream and lose control of her body, clearly afflicted by a demon. We prayed for her but were not sure if she had been truly freed. She came the next day for bible study and it was clear that the work was not finished. The leadership team of the church decided to pray and fast until the next morning and try again.

The next morning she came and we began to speak with her about her past. She shared a heartbreaking story of how she had been afflicted since the time of her childhood. Her father and brother had been involved in witchcraft and, because she manifested signs of having an evil spirit, she was an outcast from the community. Her life had been filled with cursing and affliction. She has four small children and tries to raise them on her own but many times she would be found out of her right mind wondering through the streets in the middle of the night.

We told her there was a passage of Scripture that we wanted to read so we began reading of the boy with a similar situation in Mark 9. As Gezaw read and got to the part where Jesus asks the father "how long has this been happening to him?" the demon manifested and she went out of her mind, grabbed the bible and threw it across the room. We continued to read the passage, some of us prayed, some sang, and finally the Lord delivered her. She confessed the gospel and was saved. She sang a song with us when it was all over about the joyous truth that Christ has all authority to deliver, save, heal and keep us. We were amazed to see God's power and the way he uses His powerful word.

That same week Fikadu and I began meeting with some close friends of ours who are having some serious marriage problems. He had left the home and it seemed hopeless. We met several times the first week and gave scripture passages as "homework" for both of them. As the husband was reading the passage of scripture given to him, God led him to return home. They are not "fixed" or perfect but God has, through His powerful word, begun the long process of healing. Please pray for this couple and us as we minister to them.

Shelley has been faithfully and gently showing love to our house helper named Shashay who is not a believer. God seems to be slowly softening her heart. Shelley tries to turn on an Amharic audio Bible when they are working together in the kitchen. This last Monday, Shashay agreed that she would like to have a copy of the audio Bible so that she could listen to it at home. She does have a Bible but she does not read it, partly due to her low reading level and thinking that the Bible is not important to read. We are rejoicing over this open door God has given us and we are praying that God would again show His power in the miracle of salvation. Please pray for Shashay.

There are so many stories that I would love to share with you but as this email is getting too long, let me simply say; our God is mighty to save. Through many struggles, sickness, joys and victories we continue to see that God is mighty and able to do far more than we could think or ask. We see the power of His word and the way that He is redeeming people for Himself. It is a joy and privilege to see His mighty hand of salvation. Please continue praying for us that we would be found faithful In the faithfulness of Christ our Lord.

We thank the Lord for each of you.
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