A letter from Carolyn Weber in Ethiopia
Grace and peace to you in the strong name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
As a blind man once said (in Louise Perrotta’s All You Need to Know about Prayer You Can Learn from the Poor), “I’m drinkin’ from the saucer ’cuz my cup has overflowed!” This describes my February and March, which were filled with many experiences, opportunities, challenges, and new awarenesses. The second semester of classes began in late January here at Mekane Yesus Seminary in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I had three opportunities to preach the Word of God. Two special groups of Presbyterians visited our campus. Occasions for fellowship and building relationships abounded. And I began planning for six months of Interpretation Assignment—to show the Good News of Christ’s love here in Ethiopia—in the United States beginning in late June!
A major focus of the Intermediate English class during the first half of second semester was on reading and discussing the true story of a little British woman, Gladys Aylward, who failed every test at mission school but persevered through God’s call and guidance to get herself all the way across Europe and Russia by train to reach her destination in China. Gladys’ deep faith, courage, perseverance, and compassion bridged the differences in culture and won many souls for Jesus Christ in the years leading up to the Second World War. Each student wrote an original essay about a Christian who has been a role model and an inspiration for her/his own faith journey. Norwegian Berit Ostby and I team teach the classes and are joined each Thursday afternoon by three additional volunteer nurturers: Brit Rosemary Burke, Dane Marianne Korsholm, and PC(USA) mission coworker Marilyn Hansen. [PHOTO 1] Our team of five each nurtures one small group, which multiplies the oral opportunities for every Growing Participator (student).
Last week the class began a study of Harmful Traditional Practices with a special emphasis on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). It is believed that 80 percent of Ethiopian women have undergone this. [PHOTO 2] South African missionary Sandy Willcox’s book Cut Flowers: A Biblical Response to FGM and the Bible are key texts for this study.
The Spiritual Formation class focused on learning and using a seven-step discernment process about an issue facing them. Many were surprised that God’s will is communicated in so many ways. In their final paper they compared and contrasted their usual method of discernment (continuous prayer, fasting, dreams, prophecy, and Bible reading) with the seven-step process. Some of their comments included: “I didn’t used to write any of it. Writing really helps.” “I didn’t allow images to float freely, so I missed much of God’s will in my life.” “I’ve never imagined what my decision would look like six months from now, so sometimes my work has been ineffective.” New for many of the students was the use of memory, imagination, rational processes (listing pros and cons), religious affections (consolation/desolation), and nature to receive clues about God’s guidance for them. “Working in steps through good planning makes our work effective and gives what is really needed.” Over the Easter break students will gather stories of courageous men and women in their home areas who endured persecution, torture, and death during the Communist Derg regime to faithfully witness to their faith in Jesus Christ.
The Holistic Ministry and Development students have learned strategies they can use in their congregations, regardless of the number of resources available, in order to address a variety of needs in their local areas. Small groups are making site visits to learn additional ways they can encourage capacity building in their congregations and synods. Each group then reports their findings to the class. [PHOTO 3] The class enjoyed learning about CHE (Community Health Evangelism) through the skit and teaching of Gambela mission co-worker Rachel Weller, daughter Lydia, and co-worker Sharon Curry. Rev. Dr. Jeff Ritchie, The Outreach Foundation, accompanied them to class. [PHOTO 4]
We were delighted by a visit from the Shenandoah Presbytery’s Ethiopian Partnership group: Doug Sensabaugh, interim general presbyter Randy Webb, and Millie. [PHOTO 5] A few days later World Mission Africa Office coordinator Rev. Debbie Braaksma brought a group of ecumenical partners to tour the seminary. [PHOTO 6]
We enjoyed a couple of Game Nights. [PHOTO 7] I also enjoyed a whole day of celebration when Mark Ojulo graduated in Public Health from Tropical Health College. [PHOTO 8] A festive feast hosted by the Addis Ababa Bethel Mekane Yesus Anuak congregation followed.
Finally, I’m eager to tell you that I’ve been chosen as one of eight Mission Advisory Delegates to the Pittsburgh General Assembly! Perhaps I will meet you there. I hope you will invite me to visit your congregation or presbytery and tell you in person about my work with our amazing Christian brothers and sisters here in Ethiopia! I’m already locked into the dates listed below, but please note the locations where I’ll be:
- June 29-July 7 PC(USA) General Assembly in Pittsburgh, Pa.
- July 19-28 New Wilmington Mission Conference, New Wilmington, Pa.
- August 5-11 Sharing Conference for mission co-workers, Louisville, Ky.
- August 12-20 Visits to churches in Missouri River Valley, Homestead, Central Nebraska, and Prospect Hill presbyteries
- August 21-29 Park Rapids, Minn., Episcopal-Presbyterian Church and family time in Nevis, Minn., with brother’s family
- Aug. 30-Sept. 5 Family time in Los Angeles
- Sept. 15-Oct. 14 World Mission Interpretation Assignments across the U.S.
- October 15-29 Presbytery of Great Rivers Presbytery meeting and itineration
- October 30-31 Family time in Chicago, Ill.
- November 1-15 Shenandoah Presbytery Ethiopia Partnership Banquet, presbytery meeting, and itineration throughout
- Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays with family
I take great joy in serving the Lord here in Ethiopia on your behalf! Thank you for your ceaseless prayer, donations, encouragement, and support that allow my work here to continue. Your sacrifices bring life, hope, and peace to people here who struggle just to take the next breath. It is my privilege to continue Presbyterian mission, which started 175 years ago! I thank and praise our Lord for you!
Serving Christ faithfully with you,
Carolyn Weber (Rev. Dr.)
The 2012 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 95
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Rev.Dr.Carolyn Weber, Thank you for updating us, thank you for your friendship and the service that you have rendered at MYS. I can affirm that Rev. Dr. Carolyn Weber is a committed Christian who makes a difference in all what she believes, teaches, confesses and lives out. She is well-grounded in the Word of God and has ability and gift to articulate the Word of God. Thank you for your sermon at Badima Yalew Chapel of the MYS. Entrusting you and your ministry to the Great Redeemer. Hope to see you in January 2013. In Christ love, Teshome Amenu
Rev. Dr. Carolyn Weber, Thank you for up dating us, thank you for your friendship and service that you have rendered to the Mekane Yesus Seminary of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus.You have been such a blessing person to us. I can affirm that Rev. Dr Carolyn Weber is a committed Christian who makes a difference in all what she believes, teaches, confesses and lives out. She is well-grounded in the Word of God and has ability and gift to articulate the Word of God. Thank you for your inspirational and thoughtful preaching in our everyday morning devotion at Badima Yalew Memorial Chapel. Inameseginalen (Amharic)! We entrust you and your ministry to the Great Redeemer. Hoping to see you in January. In Christ love, Teshome Amenu From Mekane Yesus Seminary Addis Ababa-Ethiopia
Dr.Carolyn Webe she was my teacher when I was a student of Mekane Yesus Seminary, real she is devoted and has a mission mind. Her life is impact up on me. O heavenly Father bless for my best teacher Dr.Carolyn Webe. Amen
Hope to see you at General Assembly. Karen and I will arrive on June 29. We leave on July 7th. I'll be working hard to get Sue Krummel elected Moderator of the GA. Check out her website at: www.suekrummel.com and recommend it to others. She's a whiz at conducting fair meetings and she's terrific before big crowds. Able to be fair to people of all theological stripes, she'd make a great Moderator.
It is such a joy to hear about all of the Good News happening at the seminary through your influence and those helping you teach and minister to the students and their families, and so many others. Bless your ministry there, dearest Carolyn! May God richly continue to bless you! Lots of love and prayers