Day 7 Harar Ethiopia October 23 2015
We are on the last plane of the last flight to get home. I am overwhelmed with emotion and fatigue and excitement all at once. Truly, I cannot describe how I feel (maybe utter pure exhaustion?). I plan to get home and soak in a hot bath for maybe 2-3 hours and let the week wash over me.
Our last day was spent in Harar, which is (according to the local Muslim population) the 4th oldest Muslim city in the world. Ancient, for sure, as it is over 1000 years old. The streets are dirt, gravel, stone and all colors of pastels. The history is rich and the people are very knowledgeable about their ancient heritage. Mosques are literally on every corner. I had expected a small city to live within the historic ancient walls, with an active market. In fact, the actual area of the city may be small in terms of square kilometers, but the population was dense. We were there on Friday, which is a “day off” from work….the locals are relaxing, chewing khat, feeling friendly and talkative….and there is generally a happiness in the air for many. The area mosques ring out a call to worship five times per day in a deep and chilling chant that resonates throughout every street, so loud you could feel your bones resonating with the volume. The call was burdensome and heavy to us.
Our agenda was two-fold on this visit. We first and foremost wanted to see the city, mingle with the residents and meet the locals. We experienced the market, the architecture and the atmosphere. We also wanted to film a few pieces of material to bring back to the church and we had prepared some footage to read and record while there. What this meant in reality was that we would be reading scripture and speaking about Jesus in the center of the city, and at its city gates. I think we had envisioned doing this fairly discreetly without trying to draw a lot of attention to ourselves. Of course, there is no way to be discreet in such a busy city, bustling with the market and activity, especially given the fact that we were essentially the only Americans in the place.
So what we ended up with was our camera filming each of our scripts, talking about Jesus, reading scripture, surrounded by excited children wanting to be in the video, and curious parents and friends looking on and listening to what we were saying. The whole picture was a complete miracle. The people were all friendly and welcoming, smiling and happy that their children could be in the American video. The children and adults alike all loved having their pictures taken, and they were completely captivated with the photography and technology.
Looking back on those moments now, just 48 hours later, I am amazed at God’s plans, and the power of the Holy Spirit. And the utter irony of what we were doing….standing in one of the most ancient of Muslim cities in the world, praying and reading scripture, while all the while, we are not even allowed to pray in our own American public schools any more. Surely one day we will realize in this country what we are blessed with, and we can regain back our freedoms and our beliefs our forefathers built this country on. But that is another letter, for sure….
I have so much to process about this week. I have written a lot to you about each day, but there is much I did not write – could not write – for a lot of reasons. I think the two biggest revelations given to me this week are this:
(1) We had to travel to Africa to recognize the problem we have in our own back yard – God made us to love, made us to worship, and we are not living in the blessing of the gospel He gave us. We are sadly and completely distracted from His will for us by all of the “wealth” we have in America.
(2) God has charged us to “go to all the nations” so that everyone will have the opportunity to come to Him – He wants us all to be with him in his kingdom, not just the ones who have already heard the gospel, but everyone! That means every nation, every language…and if we don’t go out to all the nations, or even to the ‘unreached people’ right in our own homeland, then who will??
So much work remains to be done. We may not all have to travel to Africa to do what He calls us to do, but where ever He calls us, where ever He calls you, what will we say?
With love and blessings, heather