Last week I (Allyson) was asked to accompany a missionary by helicopter to some remote people groups in order to provide a medical clinic while he did teaching. In God’s providence, the 3 days that I was needed actually worked out to be a time that I was able to slip away from Langano! I returned Saturday from the experience of a lifetime. What a BLESSING to get to receive this gift as we are leaving Ethiopia. A huge thank you to Ben, Marcus, and Matthias for including me in your work! Thanks also to Dave for supplying all the meds I needed. What an honor to work alongside these godly men.
It was amazing to see how the medical work and the Bible teaching complement each other so well. Ben would use the clinic as an example during his teaching, “If Allyson examined you and diagnosed your illness, and then gave you the exact right medicine to treat your condition, would you get better just by putting the medicine in your pocket?” The crowd would answer no. Then, Ben would explain, “No, the medicine does you no good in your pocket – you have to swallow it, and take it in – then you can be healed. It’s the same with Jesus. You can listen to the stories I tell you about Jesus, but in order to be healed from your ‘sickness’ (sin), you have to swallow it yourself.”
After that, we left by helicopter to the next location (Agara). These people were also from the T’ara tribe, but in a very isolated location about 15 minutes away by helicopter. In Agara, Ben started with some teaching for about 200 people under a mango tree. He is on story 5 of about 80 stories in the whole chronological teaching series. After the teaching time, I provided a clinic for about 3 hours and then, after dinner, Ben taught again late into the night accompanied by the sound of beating drums and chanting voices outside.
I slept in the helicopter for the night overlooking the most beautiful display of God’s creation – majestic mountain ranges like I have never seen before! Before going to “bed”, I asked one of the T’ara people what kinds of animals they had there. How encouraging to hear they had lions, leopards, etc. – ha! I was praying my heart out that I wouldn’t have to get up in the night to go to the bathroom! (My prayer was not answered…)
Friday morning I did another small clinic (about 20 people) while Ben finished up. I was able to provide some follow-up care for a few very sick babies that I had seen the day before. I am positive these babies would not have lived without medical intervention. In fact, I am not sure if they will even live after receiving medical care, but I think they do have a fairly good chance after receiving the needed medication. We prayed over each of these babies, and even the fervent way the T’ara people prayed was convicting. I feel like so often I pray out of routine and they seemed to be having a direct, passionate conversation with the Lord as we were begging him to heal these children. I love how the body of Christ can be so mutually encouraging to each other!
After loading up the helicopter, we traveled on to Bbodi territory to a place called Gia. This was a quick stop where Ben needed to meet with a few of the Bbodi believers. These believers are anxious to have 2 Me’en (another tribe) evangelists come live with them and disciple them. Ben is helping to coordinate this and the Bbodi have agreed to build the evangelists homes and to provide food for them. Both T’ara locations are also eagerly anticipating receiving Me’en evangelists. The 6 evangelists should be moving in to all 3 locations (T’ara/Oshka, T’ara/Agara, Bbodi/Gia) next month. I didn’t do an official clinic during our time with the Bbodi, but I was able to treat a few patients out of the cargo area of the helicopter. The Bbodi people were HUGE! I was really surprised to see almost all of them towering over me (don’t laugh – I know most people are taller than me, but these people seriously TOWERED!). I learned that the Bbodi compete each year to see who can become the fattest. The men work hard to drink as much blood and milk so they can be counted among the largest in their tribe. The Bbodi are known as one of the fiercest tribes in Ethiopia. They are pastoralists who have a strong history of fighting with and killing their neighbors. The place we landed had a little pocket of Bbodi believers who seemed so peaceful. It was hard to believe that their tribe is known for being such strong warriors… although they did look a bit intimidating between their size and their attire… or lack of.