BONGA Gospel Crusade, Ethiopia, DAY 1:
Hello from Bonga! Thought to be the oldest town in south-west Ethiopia, it is situated in the Kaffa region, where coffee was first discovered and the original natural habitat of the plant. In fact, the English word, “coffee” could possibly find its origins in the name, “Kaffa”. Yet, even though the coffee here is excellent, we did not come for the coffee but rather, the people. The vast majority of the inhabitants of Bonga are not yet born again and the persecution that the evangelicals face here is intense. Our team has not been allowed to openly preach the Gospel in the streets, as we usually do in the run-up to our crusades. In fact, some months ago, missionaries were arrested for doing this. Thankfully, we were granted permission by the local authorities to hold our mass meetings—the first of their kind here—and so, we are soldiering forward with great faith and fortitude.
Our service today was glorious. The crowd was scattered but the people extremely attentive and open to the Gospel message. In communities like this, where evangelicals are persecuted, we have learned that people are hesitant initially but grow in curiosity and boldness as the days progress. Soon, thousands will flock to receive from the Lord. Already, today, hundreds raised their hands to heaven and asked Jesus to wash them clean with His precious blood.
Prayer for the sick was followed by wonderful testimonies, including those of Tesfanesh and Aster. Tesfanesh is a teenager. She started having serious kidney problems six months ago. She went to doctors in Jimma—the largest, neighbouring city—and they gave her a death sentence. “There is nothing we can do for you,” they said. But God! Now, after prayer, all pain has left. The weakness and fatigue have vanished. She feels brand new. “I thank the Lord! I am so happy!” this young lady expressed. Amen and amen! Aster is a 30-year-old vendor of injera (a pancake-like flatbread that is a staple here in Ethiopia) and mother of three. A migraine had plagued her with such severity and for such a length of time, she was worried that it may signify a serious health issue. She felt completely incapacitated and attended the crusade to receive prayer for her ailment. Our Jesus did not disappoint and the migraine is no more! “I will testify about Him! He is my Saviour and Healer!” she voiced. How fantastic!
Tomorrow we continue. Thank you for your prayers—they are making this crusade possible. Bonga belongs to Jesus. Together with you, this town will be utterly transformed by his love and grace!
Yours in Him,
Tamryn, Samuel and team
BONGA Gospel Crusade, Ethiopia, DAY 2:
Ethiopia celebrates their Easter next weekend. After all, they use a different calendar entirely (for the interest of those of you who are unaware) that has thirteen months and is seven or eight years behind, depending on the time of year (they are currently in 2015). For the South African members of our team, however, today is Good Friday and it was a good, good Friday indeed! We celebrated our Jesus dying for our sins by preaching Him as being the Sin-Slayer. He is Dr Jesus, who applies the ointment of His blood to our spirits and heals them from the sickness of sin. The message was embraced with sincerity and enthusiasm, a mighty wave of salvation rolling across the crowd as precious people, young and old, called upon the name of the Lord.
I started sharing on the Holy Spirit tonight, laying the first of three tiers of teaching that will culminate in prayer for the baptism of the Holy Spirit on Sunday. I explained what it means to be filled with Him and how the Lord wants to use every one of his children for His glory, regardless of our doubts and insecurities. Thereafter, we prayed for the sick and heard tremendous testimonies.
Tesfa is a 25-year-old mother of three. Her left shoulder and arm have been immobile for the past several months. She could not pinpoint the cause. The pain and stiffness began suddenly and were not improving. Fulfilling household chores and caring for the children was extremely difficult. Today, the Lord touched that limb, removing all pain and restoring full mobility. “I am completely healed!” Tesfa expressed. “I thank my God!”
Keshi is a 20-year-old day labourer. Her brother had told her about the crusade and, already being a believer, she attended in faith, expecting the Lord to heal her. Keshi suffered from a heart condition. She experienced sharp pains in her chest and was unable to exert herself. Dr Jesus touched that heart tonight and Keshi is elated. After prayer, she tested her body by doing some of the exercises which would previously have aggravated the discomfort immediately—nothing! No discomfort at all! Keshi testified on stage, “I give glory to my Lord. My life has completely changed!”
Your prayers are working wonders, dear friend! People are starting to attend in big numbers and the rain has skirted our services marvellously. Yesterday, the rain started falling within half an hour of our meeting concluding and continued throughout the night. Today, the storm clouds built up and the wind picked up and then—blue skies! We met with the Lord under a cheerful, afternoon sun. Tomorrow, we will hold both morning and evening services. I look forward to giving you more feedback as we continue labouring in the mission field.
Yours in the harvest,
Tamryn, Samuel and team
BONGA Gospel Crusade, Ethiopia, DAY 3:
The Lord continues to move mountains here in Bonga! Only around 10% of the inhabitants of this town are evangelical. There is much work to be done and we are doing our bit to get it done. Thousands attended our services today and called upon the name of the Lord. This afternoon, I preached about the Shepherd of shepherds, appointed by the Father to rescue the sheep—namely, us—from the clutches of the devil and hell. Together, we called upon that Great Shepherd, Jesus Christ and asked Him to make us His own. It was glorious. Follow-up material was distributed and prayer cards completed.
Thereafter, I continued teaching on the Spirit, explaining how to cooperate with Him to witness to the lost and pray for the sick. Everyone is excited for tomorrow when we will pray for the Holy Spirit infilling. Enjoy these two testimonies that were among those that followed prayer for healing and deliverance.
Shaza is a 23-year-old wife and homemaker. Five years ago, she injured her left leg and has been in agony ever since. One year ago, her lower back started likewise to pain her. Now, she could neither get up nor sit down without assistance and any physical activity was difficult. Testifying on stage, Shaza came with the expectation to be healed. She had heard about the crusade at her church. She came to our services on both Thursday and Friday and left with no noticeable difference in her body. “I decided that today was my day!” she voiced. It was her day indeed! Our Jesus did a thorough work in her from top to toe, liberating her from both leg and back ailments. Thank you, Lord!
One of our ushers testified with great enthusiasm. His six-month-old daughter, Jerusalem had been fighting an infection for weeks. He was becoming increasingly worried. In addition, she had a large tumour that stood out very prominently on her little body. During the service last night, when praying for the sick, I had specifically included loved ones at home. “The Lord is touching your loved one right now!” I had declared. When he returned home, he laid his hands on his daughter and repeated the prayer. This morning, Jerusalem is perfectly well! The infection is no more and the tumour has disappeared. What a mighty miracle!
The weather continues to cooperate beautifully. Yesterday again, we experienced heavy downpours during the night and the rain threatened throughout the day. However, by the time our service started this afternoon, blue skies had emerged. This is the result of your prayers. We trust the Lord that our final day tomorrow—with both morning and evening services—will also be deluge-free.
Yours for His glory,
Tamryn, Samuel and team
BONGA Gospel Crusade, Ethiopia, FINAL DAY:
We have enjoyed a glorious final day in His presence! This morning, all evangelical churches closed their doors and their pastors and congregation members met on our crusade field for a mass service. This show of unity is unique to Ethiopia. I have not experienced it anywhere else in the world and neither has my husband—who has been in crusade ministry for over 25 years! We praised the risen Lord and handed out Certificates of Appreciation to the pastors and volunteers, as well as copies of the Amharic version of my book on the Holy Spirit and evangelism, “Spirit of Fire”. Thereafter, I preached on the story of the Samaritan woman and the gift of God, which we can freely receive from the nail-pierced palms of the Son of God. Hands were raised and the gift received. What a simple transaction, yet eternal in its impact.
Come afternoon, the Gospel went forth yet again. I preached on the encounter that Nicodemus had with Jesus and the need for us to be born again. Thousands asked the Lord to work this miracle in their own lives and wash their spirits clean with His precious blood. Then, I continued teaching on the Holy Spirit, squashing some misconceptions that the devil uses to discourage children of God from witnessing. Prayer for the Holy Spirit baptism was power-packed. Believers were filled from on high with the Spirit of the Most High. Bonga will continue being transformed through their witnessing. This crusade is only the beginning of what our Lord is eager to do in this town! We prayed for the prayer requests that had been submitted during the crusade period and declared a blessing over the crowd. Testimonies were then taken. Be blessed by these two.
Testaye is a 57-year-old farmer and father of eight. For the past ten years, his body had been a hothouse of aches and infirmities. “My entire body was in pain,” he explained. “Everything was difficult for me to do.” He attended our crusade from the first service, believing the Lord fervently for his healing. Yesterday, on his way home, Testaye had an open vision of someone handing him a gift. In his vision, he accepted it and instinctively knew that it was his healing. Continuing home, he went to bed. This morning, when Testaye awoke, every pain and symptom was gone! He testified this afternoon with tremendous glee, jumping up and down and showing off his newfound, pain-free state. “I am so happy! I thank my Jesus!” he declared.
Asnakechi is a 45-year-old mother of four and a homemaker. Five months ago, she suffered a stroke. Since then, she struggled with mobility in her right side and also, tremors. Today, the Lord restored her mobility and banished the shaking, leaving an elated and rejoicing Asnakechi. “He healed me for free!” she expressed, moving her body about on stage. “I did not even have to give Him money. Jesus is my only Lord and my only Saviour!” Yes indeed, He saves freely and heals freely. He is wonderful in every way!
The pastors are ecstatic. This is the first time that a mass crusade has even been held in Bonga. “We cannot begin to express the impact you have made,” articulated the evangelical fraternal chairman of the greater woreda. “You have broken new ground. We have never experienced anything like this.” Heartfelt thanks for your support and prayers, those who have partnered with us in this endeavor. Together with you, the darkness in Bonga has been driven back and the Light of Life is reigning supreme!
Yours on this Resurrection Sunday,
Tamryn, Samuel and team