We had a time of rest this morning – we had no ministry this morning. It was nice for us to have a break because the Presidential election was yesterday (polls closed this morning Ethiopia time) so we watched the results coming in before we went to breakfast. By the time we left it was quite obvious that Donald Trump had won. The only English news channel we can watch is CNN – it was amazing how long they were holding on to hope and dragging on their conversations about all the scenarios that could happen with the states that they had not yet been willing to call for Trump. Tadele and Benjamin arrived at the hotel at 8:00am to take us to breakfast and we had a nice meal at a local hotel. It took a long time to get our food, each of us was served separately because we could see that they were cooking on one burner for all of us.
We returned to the guest house where Nathan and I held our audit with Tadele. During the audit we find out how his family is doing, how the ministry is going, we learn more about his volunteer base, how he is training them, how often they are visiting the prisons, where they are going and we learn about the inmates they are meeting.
We then settled all our financial matters and gave Tadele a couple gifts, including laptop which came at the perfect time because his other laptop had broken just before we arrived in Ethiopia.
Tadele returned home for some rest while we prepared for our afternoon prison service and Nathan finalized his speaking notes for the church service where he would be preaching that evening.
I’ve been to Awassa Prison before. As we drove through the heart of town we pulled into a dirt driveway, past an “outdoor” pool hall and through the metal corrugated gate to the prison compound, right behind the hotel where we stayed last year.
Upon arriving we met with the OC, presented the customary gifts, and prayed for him. He is the same OC I met with in February 2015. He remembered me, as well (I think that’s quite probable, naturally, as not many white men visit their prison from foreign countries).
We were cleared to enter and we were told we could take photographs, of which I got many.
We walked past the visitors area – made of broad sticks tied together – through the gate into the prison courtyard. You can read more about this prison by reading my post from almost two years ago (below).
We entered the prison chapel which holds about 300 and there were not many inmates there. However, that changed quickly, we had a full house with people standing outside. We sure do draw a lot of attention to ourselves when we walk through the prisons.
The church choir, dressed in orange and white robes, sang a couple very loud and lively songs after one of the church leaders had stood up and spoken as everyone was gathering in. We were then introduced and we had a very good service. Nathan served as emcee, Scott gave his testimony, Matt preached a short sermon and I ended with a long sermon followed by Nathan’s altar call. Nobody from inside the church came forward but when he asked if anyone from outside had just surrendered to Christ five men came in. We prayed for them and then about 25 men came up so we could pray for them for healing.
Upon leaving the prison I was running the video on my iPhone in the back of my backpack and, as we later discovered when reviewing the video, one man tried to steal it but was caught and stopped by one of our volunteers.
We didn’t have time to return to the guest house before church so we had dinner at a local hotel and then drove to the same church where we had held both of our conferences earlier in the week.
There was nobody in the church when we arrived at 6:30pm. We prayed while some canned music was played (very loud) for a while and people started showing up. Scott then went to the front and played his mandolin, blending five songs together – it was really nice, everyone (especially the children) really seemed to enjoy it.
Nathan preached a great message this evening from the story of the two blind beggars. I was very proud of him. This was his first time preaching for a church congregation. He put a lot of time into preparation for this message over the past couple days and I felt he did a great job sharing and encouraging the Ethiopians from God’s word.
We went to a temporary correctional facility. Similar to a jail at home – These are men that have not yet been sent to the prison. 26 men were in the jail and 17 of them came out of the makeshift cell (a dark concrete room with a window with a wooden shutter on it) to be part of our service. It was a good service (Nathan just killed a cockroach for me) and everyone did a great job.
Afterward we all went somewhere else for our lunch (I had pizza) and then back to the guest house to prepare for the leadership conference. We left the guest house at 5:30pm (we were supposed to be there at that time), this is the first time we have been late for anything this week. Tadele does such a great job of organization and making sure we are on time and well-prepared.
We talked about tomorrow’s services and then prayed corporately. Now it’s time for bed. We prayed for tomorrow’s services, the Tanzania team which currently is waiting to see fi they will be able to get into the prisons this week, and we prayed for our nation with the election tomorrow (how dreadful). We asked God for forgiveness for our nation. We desperately need revival.
I think I might finally be over jet lag. It’s now 9:45pm and I’m still awake. The rest of the evenings I haven’t been able to keep my eyes open past 8:00pm.
Today was our training conference. There were over 100 people in attendance. At the beginning of every conference we ask how many people are currently involved in prison ministry. 16 hands went up today. Tadele did a great job inviting people to the conference and working hard to make sure all preparations were made in advance. There were people from more than 100 miles away, a long distance to travel with the conditions in this country. At the end of the conference we asked how many people would like to serve in prison ministry that were not serving prior to the conference – 32 additional people came forward so we could pray for them and charge them into the mission field. Everyone on our team did a great job in teaching. The conference lasted six hours including our one hour lunch break. All topics were thoroughly discussed and all attendees were very attentive and encouraged.
I hit a wall shortly after lunch – jet lag caught up to me. Since I served as emcee I still had a lot of work to do. We returned to the guest house at 6:00pm and I crashed hard – 45 minutes were gone in what felt like 30 seconds. Nathan and Matt had plenty of energy so they went to get the humanitarian aid for the week. They bought 2,500 large bars of soap for inmate humanitarian aid.
They returned around 6:45pm and we all talked for a while to try to keep ourselves awake until 8:00pm. We made it, then we all hit the sack. Everyone is totally wiped out.