A letter from Marilyn Hansen on home assignment from Ethiopia
“Will you pray for me?” Jacqueline asked with a smile. “Of course," I answered. "What would you like me to pray about?”
“I’m going to get a medical degree when I go to college,” said this high school junior as we walked across the campus. “Then I want to move to Nigeria, where my father was born, and practice medicine, but not medicine in the capital. I want to go into the countryside where there are no doctors.”
Jacqueline’s face was lit with enthusiasm. I had just been speaking to a group of 10 high school girls at the New Wilmington Mission Conference on the campus of Westminster College in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania (see photo). Every morning of the weeklong conference Rich and I each spoke to different groups of high school students who were giving up a week of their summer to learn more about mission and the church around the world. My heart was touched with the passion some of them had for serving God, wherever He might call them.
Rich and I were privileged to meet many PC(USA) people this summer who are passionate about serving God. For two months we traveled in the U.S., speaking to mission groups and interested individuals and churches about our life and ministry in Ethiopia (see photo). Seeing a tiny glimpse of the breadth and depth of our denomination was a great look into the heart of the PC(USA).
And so this month we’d like to share with you a few of our experiences…
In the hills on one side of the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia
A tiny white church nestled among green hills (see photo). As we drove up, the door to the church was flung open. We climbed the steps outside and walked into a small entry, where our photo was posted on a bulletin board and our recent newsletters were hanging from a pin. This 15-member church has faithfully supported us for more than two years with handmade cards from Sunday School children and with sacrificial financial gifts. It was a joy to stand before these people and thank them for the ways they had reached out to us.
In an Ethiopian restaurant in Fresno, California
The outside temperature was high, probably close to 100. The air-conditioning in the restaurant was barely working. But the warmth of the people of this church in Fresno was far greater than the temperature that day. Much thought and effort had been given to hosting this dinner for us, from the injera and shirro on the buffet table to the care in publicizing the gathering to people in the church and to others living in Fresno (see photo).
In a meeting of people interested in Ethiopia in a downtown San Diego church, California
When we first arrived in Ethiopia I read a book by Harvey Hoekstra, a pioneer missionary who brought the gospel to an unreached people group in southwestern Ethiopia about 50 years ago. Imagine our delight this summer when we shook Harvey’s hand at this meeting and could tell him personally how much we appreciated his and his family’s effective and fruitful ministry in Ethiopia. This group included South Sudanese, Ethiopians and Americans, all of whom were interested in and connected to Ethiopia.
In the hills overlooking a brush canyon north of San Diego, California
As the sun lowered in the sky across the canyon, we spent an evening with a small group of people from several Presbyterian churches who were interested in hearing our story. Our host prepared an amazing dinner, grilling mountains of meat and vegetable in a BBQ, sharing not only food but warm hospitality and his delight in serving others. As the sun set, we sat around a fire pit, where Rich and I shared our call to Ethiopia and the ways that God is working among Christians there.
On a hill overlooking the skyline of Las Vegas casinos, Nevada
The geography around Las Vegas is dry and barren and monochromatic. But the fellowship, hospitality and meal we experienced in the home of a Las Vegas pastor and his wife was just the opposite! Staff of the church along with mission committee members offered us encouragement and showed interest in what we are doing.
In a one-of-a-kind retirement community in Pasadena, California
Monte Vista Grove is a unique place. This retirement community tucked away in a residential area of Pasadena is the home of pastors and mission workers, all of whom have served the PC(USA) for more than 20 years. With a tour of the grounds and a peek into a home, we could understand why everyone who lives in the Grove finds the environment stimulating and satisfying. When we talked about Ethiopia to community members that evening, the questions asked were insightful and knowledgeable. Actually, with the wealth of experience and with many Presbyterian “heroes” in the room, we should have been sitting at their feet!
At a synod gathering of Presbyterian women in Virginia
The PC(USA) women came to the seminar to learn about women in another part of the world (see photo). They came to learn about the medical problem of fistulas: why they occur, what the heartrending consequences can be, and what help is being provided to women with fistulas. The women at the seminar also came to learn about female genital mutilation, which continues to occur frequently in many parts of Ethiopia. Their hearts were touched by the suffering of women they will never meet, in a place in the world they will never visit.
These, along with other experiences this summer, gave us encouragement and fresh motivation to continue our work in Ethiopia on behalf of the people of the PC(USA). We thank all of you for your belief in our work and for your prayers, communication and financial support. Without this, we could not do what God has called us to do.
Just Added to our website!! Watch a video of a 30-minute sermon Rich preached this summer. Discover that the majority of Christians today live outside Europe and North America. Rich speaks about what this means for the emerging global church...and what it might mean for Christians in the U.S.! Click the link to our website (below) and scroll down to the sermon. We hope you find it helpful and are interested in your comments.
In His service with you,
Rich and Marilyn
- Praise for our safe travel in the United States
- Pray for the new school year of the Ethiopian Graduate School of Theology, which began this past week
- Pray for the country of Ethiopia, its government, its leaders, its future
The 2013 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 107
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