Monday, September 29, 2014

The Next Generation

Sometime in the late 80's the pastor of the church we were attending at the time met an extraordinary man, Werku Golle,  from Ethiopia at a pastor's conference.  The friendship that was formed between Gus and Werku has had far-reaching and long-lasting effects. They formed a plan to forge their two churches into a sisters church organization and in 1991 eight pastors from areas around Addis Ababa, primarilly Dilla, in Sidamo, Ethiopia came to Bellingham for a 3-week internship.  

Werku and Halleluia Golle, Jessi aged 7, and me...ageless

We volunteered to host two of the men, Essayas Roba and Boko Bedecho.  Essayas was in his mid 30's and Boko was in his late 60's.  Our accommodations were not as luxurious as the other pastors' hosts, but what we lacked in luxury we made up for in experiences.  We took them everywhere.

Essayas and Boko in the Skagit Valley tulip fields

Essayas, Wally, Boko and Jessi at Heather Meadows, Mt. Baker, this was the first time they had ever seen snow!

They were all able to meet the woman who, with her husband, had led these men's parents to the Lord in Ethiopia in the 40's.  It was an emotional reunion when she made the trip from BC to Bellingham to spend the day with these men.

I don't remember the names of all the men, but Boko is third from the left  Essayas is second from the right.  On Essayas' right is Bekele Gedecho.  Bekele had a burden to reach the next generation of children in Ethiopia, he had seen too many of them falling away from the Lord as they grew older and he realized that they were not being discipled.  Gus and the church made the decision to sponsor Bekele so he could attend Trinity Western University in Langley, BC, to further his Biblical education and prepare him to create effective teaching materials for the children in Ethiopia.  

Many years earlier Bekele had been a bright young student at the university in Addis Ababa. At the time Ethiopia was under communist rule and the government conscripted him into government service.  When he was commanded to commit an unlawful and immoral act for the government, he refused and was jailed for 6 years.  Shortly after his release, the government was overthrown and a new regime was installed.  The day after he left for Bellingham, officials came to his home in Dilla to arrest him; they viewd him as a threat to the new government.  This meant that he could not return home to Ethiopia when he graduated from Trinity Western. It was a difficult time for him but he continued to work on his children's ministry materials and began sending books and other materials to his church in Dilla.  After another 6 years, his wife Trunesh and his 7 children were able to come to America and emigrated to BC, Canada, which was a simpler process than the US in those days.  It had been 12 years since they had all seen each other.  What a reunion!

Yesterday we attended a luncheon hosted by a Lynden church to reconnect with Bekele and Trunesh and some of their children who are now all grown.  

This photo is from about 6 years ago, most of these "kids" are out on their own now, some are married and living in Alberta and others are working and living in the BC area.

Two of his good-looking "children"

Trunesh and their youngest daughter

Bekele and Wally...hmmm, we've all gone grey!

The fabulous Ethiopian dinner:  injera, lentils, homemade buttermilk cheese, split peas, potatoes and doro wat (spicey chicken and egg stew) so very good!

It was wonderful to reconnect with these amazing people who have endured so much and still praise the Lord for their many blessings. Their friendship is one of the many gems God has brought our way.  And now a whole new generation of Ethiopian children are learning of His grace, mercy and love and are serving Him wherever possible.  Egziabher yimesegan dehna!

1 comment:

Les Hon said...

Love this post! Good memories!