A letter from Carolyn Weber in Ethiopia
Grace and peace to you from God and our Lord Jesus Christ!
August has been chock-full of ministry opportunities and preparations. It started with an invitation from my student, Tewachew Ahadu, to spend an afternoon with the group of young teens he was teaching some of the Christian spiritual disciplines he experienced in our Spiritual Formation class last year. Our discussion topic: living as a Christian in today’s world. How do we “lead a life worthy of our calling from God” described in Ephesians 4:1–3? Students responded: “by not quarreling with our neighbors,” “by prayer,” “by telling others how Jesus loved them,” “by being generous and being a good person,” “by spreading the gospel.” How do you describe someone who loves Jesus? Responses: “by his good behavior,” “she prays day-to-day to God,” “respects others,” “one who loves his neighbor as himself,” “tells others about the Bible,” “prays with unity,” “a man of peace,” “intervenes in quarrels,” “tells others who died for our sins,” “by their character and where they spend their time,” “one who puts their foot on the foot of Jesus,” “one who asks Jesus to keep us from the evil thing,” “one who is strong and courageous.” Then I taught them the Joshua 1:9 Bible song: “Be strong and courageous, do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
One Sunday I enjoyed preaching to the Addis Ababa Anuak Mekane Yesus congregation near the seminary. The election of two new officers was held at the conclusion of the service, so we considered carefully the characteristics of church leaders described in 1 Timothy 3:1–13, Ephesians 4:1–6 and Titus 1:6–9.
The next day I began a week of teaching speaking and listening skills to 60 entering students in our rainy season six-week crash English course. Three students had crossed the continent from the West African nation of Guinea-Bissau to attend. Those days were my first contact with the students who will be part of my classes during the coming year and I praise God for their maturity in Christ. On the last day the students individually addressed the class by reading their favorite Scripture and giving one reason why it has inspired them.
August has also been a time of preparation for the four courses I will teach this fall. I will be using a completely different method—the Growing Participator Approach—to teach the Intermediate and Advanced English courses. It calls for much ingenuity, as well as several volunteers to assist in working with the students in small groups. (This was the approach used for my Amharic language learning where the teachers are called nurturers and people learn the language in the same way that babies learn to talk.) I will again teach Spiritual Formation to the first-year students.
A great privilege for me will be jointly teaching the core course, Practical Theology: Methods and Practice, in our brand-new Master of Arts in Practical Theology degree program with a highly gifted professor from Norway, Dr. Oeyvind Eide. I expect to learn much from this master teacher. The course will focus on the four hermeneutical steps Leif Gunnar Engedal describes in “A Way to Follow—the Question of Method” in Eide’s Restoring Life in Christ: Dialogues of Care in Christian Communities—An African Perspective (2008). The students will reflect on case studies they bring from their home area ministry practice as they work through the steps of Praxis—Cultural Context—Theological Reflection—Revised Praxis.
Please pray for:
- All who are suffering and dying from disease and the continuing drought in the Horn of Africa: Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia.
- The Mekane Yesus Seminary’s ministry of equipping church servants to be even more effective. May Jesus be the heartbeat of our campus.
- Our students—some of whom have worked as pastors and evangelists with scant pay, who may have started more than 30 congregations before beginning their formal studies. Many are struggling financially. Some must leave their families behind in the distant countryside for their studies here in urban Addis Ababa.
- My health, strength, patience, creativity, Sabbath-keeping, and wisdom. God has sent me as an encourager to love the students, teach them critical reflection skills, and coach them to become proficient communicators in English.
My ministry here would be impossible without your support—in powerful and effective prayer, encouragement, and essential financial mission support. I look forward to hearing from you. May God bless your lives and ministries as we all seek to be faithful to God’s calling wherever in the world we are located! “With God all things are possible!” I join my students in shouting out a heartfelt “Thank you!” to all of you! [Photo 6 “THANKS!” from Degree 1 students.]
The 2011 Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 57