Step off the plane, take in a huge gulp of air after being trapped in a smelly jumbo jet for 14 hours. Immediately begin gagging because you realize it doesn’t smell any fresher outside. Welcome to Ethiopia!
When I first went to Ethiopia in the summer of 2012, I went with the expectation of changing some lives and starting a spiritual revolution. Lives were definitely changed, but God had started a spiritual revolution long before I arrived.
As a Westerner, it was easy for me to go to a foreign country thinking I had the answers to problems—problems the Ethiopians didn’t even know they had! I must say, I was pretty insightful. After a few minutes, though, I quickly realized my helplessness. I didn’t know the language. I couldn’t drink the water. And I couldn’t navigate those streets even if I was a NYC cab driver.
Eventually I learned to default to the knowledge of our Ethiopian director Yonas. He kept us out of trouble and introduced us to some amazing things. We saw formerly-starved children now receiving daily meals and education. We met 15 and 16 year old girls who had been slaves to sexual abuse, drug addictions and prostitution now brimming with hope after an encounter with Christ. I hadn’t started any kind of spiritual revolution; but God was kind enough to let me watch one in action.
A week later, we say our heartfelt goodbyes and promise to stay in touch like a gaggle of middle schoolers getting ready to part at the end of summer camp. We cram back on that smelly plane and head back to the good ol’ USA.
As I get settled in for the 17-hour return flight, a few things rack my mind. How much longer until I get an ice cold Dr. Pepper in my hand? Did I really just fly across the ocean to be a spectator? How does playing games with kids impact the Kingdom?
As soon as we landed in DC, I solved the Dr. Pepper dilemma. The other things continued to plague me for weeks. Seeing God at work was great, but how does that help others? It was at that point God tapped me on the shoulder and said, “I want you to stop trying to perform, and just proclaim. Be my witness.”
Since then, I have gone from advocate, to intern, to employee of Eyes That See. God has also personally transformed me from a performer into a proclaimer. I love sharing with others what God is doing in Ethiopia, and I will probably continue to do so for a long time.
So as you drop coins into your jars, don’t think about performance (amount, participation, etc.)—think about how you will proclaim His name and draw others into His Kingdom revolution.
posted by JJ Galipeau, US Program Coordinator of Eyes That See