May 2019 Update - MacLachlans: Divided Time & New Roles

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Dear Praying Friends, Here we are in northern Ethiopia with our son, Daniel, after what feels like escaping Addis.  This time our trip is for ten days, and Daniel is with us for 6 weeks prior to starting med school this Fall.  As happened last month, we booked our ticket North less than 24 hours in advance, not knowing up until the last moment if we could arrange all our Addis responsibilities so that we could leave.  

A misconception exists in Addis that when we go North to our ministry location that we sip mint juleps and are on break.  What happens in reality is that everyone who was waiting for us to return descend upon us.  As I was typing this, Mark breezed in with the newly issued title for the land that the Blueberry House sits on.  That is the first house we built in the countryside and which the Gerst family lived in until last week.  Jon and everyone else had to turn in land titles to the government a month ago.  Jon had said it was with a sinking feeling that he saw the title thrown under a desk onto a huge pile of other titles.  Would it ever be recovered from the chaos?  It is with thanksgiving that we look at the newly issued title!  Pray that the Blueberry House, as it moves into a new season of ministry, be used to the max for the KINGDOM!

And what happened to the Gersts, all six of them?  After an amazing stretch of seeing Gospel opportunities opening right and left, they moved to Barhir Dar, the regional capital which is two hours away.  It was a wrenching move for them as their hearts are very tied to the Awi countryside people.  Jon and others have launched a ministry called KIBER (glory in Amharic) which seeks to help business people dedicate their businesses and lives for the King and his work on this earth.  This takes a lot of travel on Jon’s part, and it was not wise for Amy and the kids to be alone in the countryside without even transportation out.  It would have been a different story if the MacLachlans had been full time in Injebara with them!  Everything is interwoven, isn’t it?  Pray for the Gerst’s adjustment to Barhir Dar and for the glory of God to be seen through KIBER!  (KIBER is being effective with country farmers as well as town business people!)


So, it was with sadness that we returned to a Gerst-less place.  But Jon showed up yesterday for breakfast, and we prayed, and we dreamed about the Awi people.  The Gersts are still our partners here!  But it is a new season for them and the outreach here.  Pray that the Awi Outreach team discerns the times and how the Spirit is leading and directing.  Pray for Tafere working broadly in the northwest and those at the 5F’s Project (Mulusew, Demikitch, Dessie, and Asmara).  


Priests continue to come forward professing faith,
 professing to now be “in Christ”.  It is not unusual for them to sneak into Tafere’s house early morning or late night.  Groups are still gathering to have Bible teachers come and teach them about the Bible.  Tim Fellows, an Ethiopia SIM missionary kid of pioneer missionaries, and our director when we first came to Ethiopia in 1993, had a group of priests approach him in Barhir Dar two months ago asking for Bible training which he provided.  Tim, who works with KHC the protestant church denomination founded by SIM never dreamed to see the day when Orthodox would come to him for teaching.  These priests are truly hungry for the Word. They are actually putting to shame their Protestant brethren in this regard.  Pray that they and we would all be desperately hungry for the Word!


Work with SIM Ethiopia in Addis has been difficult for both of us.  Our hearts are very much still with those waiting to hear in the North.  The agreed upon aim with SIM Ethiopia is that we will form teams and reduce our work in Addis to 60-50%.  The other 40-50% should be in the North.  We are far from that goal but seeking in faith how that might be done.  Pray for the Lord’s will in how our time is split or whether it should be split!


SIM Ethiopia has rolled out a new mandate and vision that is unofficially in effect now and officially in September.  This includes brand new structure.   We have dubbed it SIM 2.0  A new start was needed after a 90 year history in the country.  Many have said it is like trimming a very old tree.  One of the primary desires is that we not behave as the Society of Independent Missionaries (SIM) but actually work as and be the Body of Christ seeking to glorify God together with our Ethiopian brethren.  Pray that this will move from aspirational to reality.  We know it is God’s will for us all, but we grow weary so quickly in the doing.


And, honestly, we are weary.  Pray for us Hebrews 12:12-13.


Thank you for your prayers for us before the throne of grace.  Debbie and Mark

Silvina Erwin