Dr. John E. Johnson

Dr. John E. Johnson

Life From the Other Side

100_2680I'm just about to leave Ethiopia, a different world for sure. You know you are in a different world when…

1 –  you are in line to board the plane in Beirut, and you are asked to sit until the women have boarded first

2 – the sun shines. This normally does not happen for an Oregonian this time of year, but here in Addis, the sun shines directly overhead because you are near the Equator, but you are cool instead of extremely hot because you are at 8,000 ft in elevation. In other words – a climate to die for

3 – you stand in line for a visa and make small talk with an expat from Germany who has come to bid on a military project to help support drone missions over the horn of Africa

4 – you step out of that airport and meet a young woman who reminds you of your daughter, and she is dressed in a colorful Ethiopian dress, and she smiles and asks for help and she walks with a limp and then you realize she has no hands and begs for a dollar, and you get in the car and that image hangs with you the rest of the trip100_2674

5 – one moment you are sipping a cappuccino in a lavish hotel, hanging out with wealthy expats, and strolling along perfectly manicured gardens and luxury pools, and you end the day driving darkened streets, navigating through a sea of humanity, who have no place to go, and beyond them you notice shadowy female figures who line the streets, waiting to sell their bodies

6 – you step into a small restaurant, and they come with pitcher and soap and towel to wash your hands because they do not provide utensils because this is a different world where hands serve as fork and spoon

7 – you drive by a dark and scary stretch of a rough part of the city and see two rough looking policemen holding hands because men are not shy to express their common friendship

8 – you have a nice Ethiopian meal with cultural dance that gets basically hijacked by inebriated Chinese businessmen

100_26739 – you see donkeys everywhere, and horse drawn carriages at every turn, and all of creation seems to groan, and an occasional horse is put out in the road to eventually be hit for it has served its purpose and the owner will require full cost by the errant motorist in order to buy a new horse, and you realize afresh the words of Rom 8 that creation groans in this broken world

10 – men are not shy to pee on the side of roads in full view, but would not want to get caught spitting in public

This is my third trip to Africa, the first to Ethiopia. It turned out to be a side trip at the end of teaching in Beirut, with the main aim to see the Heye family, who are doing an amazing work here. I say amazing, because i notice that this place can take its toll, but they have held up well. Pray for them. And now, back to the other world…

  • Deborah Hays
    7:19 AM, 10 November 2011

    Oh how I wish I could see and experience the things you do. I am blessed however, that I do get to ‘see’ them through your eyes. I pray for your safe passage home.

  • Surya
    6:23 AM, 19 March 2012

    I love these insights and llarey pattern my ministry in this manner. The problem is I take a lot of criticism for this approach. I have quite a few veteran youth workers who haven’t change their approach in 20 years of working with students. I am constantly told I am not paid to go to games and choir concerts that our held at the local schools. For example, I love basketball and my family and I go to all the games including the away games. Sometimes we drive 80 miles away, and the players and their parents love it. I have been able to share the gospel at more basketball games than anywhere else. I missed one away game and I had more than fifty students facebook me to see if everything is ok. We have students enter our church just through me attending sporting events. I can’t seem to get my youth workers to buy into the fact the people, especially students, do not just come to church because you have a program. My youth workers are great teachers, but they think all ministry takes place during the Sunday school hour or on Wednesday nights. They have no other contact with students during the week. Any advice would be appreciated.

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