A letter from John and Gwen Haspels in Ethiopia
New Year 2014
“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint” Is. 40:31.
Clutching My Camera: On one of the coldest days on record, I found myself sitting in my car with the windows rolled down, clutching my camera with numb fingers. It was New Year’s morning 2014. The world was quiet after a night of celebration. In front of me on a frozen lake, like salt and pepper mixed in a shaker, thousands of Snow and Canadian geese huddled together with dozens of Mallard ducks, trying to stay warm.
Suddenly in a wild panic, thousands of wings were madly beating, scrambling into the air like fighter jets scrambling to defend a city. I looked up and my camera locked on a lone bald eagle soaring overhead. In that moment, God gave me the marching orders for the New Year: “BUT THEY THAT WAIT UPON THE LORD SHALL RENEW THEIR STRENGTH.” The Lord said to me in that moment, “If you need renewed strength for ALL that is ahead of you in this New Year, then take time daily to WAIT ON ME.”
Prophetic Picture: As the geese and ducks scrambled into the air to take refuge from the eagle above, God also gave me a prophetic picture of what lay ahead.
When we arrived in Addis, we were met in the guesthouse by four PC(USA) missionaries taking refuge from an ugly and distressing war in South Sudan. Like the few Mallard ducks scattered among the huge flock of scrambling geese, the PC(USA) refugees were only a very small fraction of the internally and externally scrambling Sudanese refugees.
This past Sunday, Feb. 9, as the PC(USA) refugees and their Ethiopian colleagues gathered to WAIT UPON THE LORD, singing could be heard from the Nuer congregation together with a few South Sudanese refugees as they too gathered to WAIT UPON THE LORD.
JESUS LOVES THE LITTLE CHILDREN: Sunday, Feb. 2, found us in church in Tulegit for the first time after almost eight months. Together with our Suri brothers and sisters in Christ, we were WAITING EXPECTANTLY ON THE LORD. We arrived promptly at 9:30, right on time, waiting for the choirs to arrive in procession to start the service. The Yellow and Green choirs arrived at about 10 and the service began. We reminded ourselves that we were back in Africa.
About 15 minutes and three praise songs later, the Red choir began to process into the church. They kept coming, and coming, and coming—97 kids from ages 6 to 17. We were deeply moved.
At about that point in the service, and after three special choir numbers, the little children under the age of 7, some of them just learning to walk, pushed and shoved onto the platform to sing a spontaneous song. They were followed to the front by all the women with babies strapped to their backs (about 20 of them) to receive a prayer of blessing. If, indeed, "the health of a church is measured by the number of babies in the nursery," then the Suri Church is robust with health. There must have been at least 200 young people in church.
Be Blessed: As you wait upon the Lord during the year 2014, may you be blessed with renewed strength as you run and walk. May you be blessed with God’s perspective as you mount up with wings as eagles and may you bring light in dark places as you share the GOOD NEWS of God’s great love in Jesus Christ.
Together in His Service,
The 2014 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 133
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