Some folks from our church in England were among 34 who went with Ronnie McCracken* on an amazing two-week mission to Ethiopia in January. They set up one of Ronnie’s famous Cafes – this one was called Café Solomon – and they fed 14,000 people. And, oh my goodness, what they found out there…
The Café Solomon team took the best flights they could get, the first plane going to Istanbul, Turkey, and then a second plane on to Addis Ababa. The problem was the second plane’s heating system was not working properly, and the 4 ½ hour flight in a hot cabin, coupled with the very early morning start was devastating. Two of the women were feeling sick by the time the plane landed, and had to be put in wheelchairs. The Ethiopian pastors waiting to meet the flight were surprised to see that the team which was to serve 14,000 meals consisted mainly of people with gray hair, two of whom were by then in wheelchairs!
Fortunately the team soon got their bounce back, and over the two week period, served the poorest of the poor in two locations, about 14,000 people altogether. Before the meals were served, the diners heard Ronnie and others preach the gospel – that the Lord Jesus Christ had died for their sins and they needed to repent and believe in Him. At these gospel meetings about 2/3 of the Ethiopians raised their hands, indicating that they wanted to accept Jesus as their Lord and Saviour.
Some of the handicapped came into the hall crawling on hands and knees. These were lepers, who wore their shoes on their hands. Did anyone dare to touch a leper? I asked. ‘Oh yes, we hugged them all,’ one team member told me. ‘Leprosy is not contagious. It can only be caught by those people who have a defective gene and they catch it from walking barefoot, because the virus is in the soil.’
She added that children had come up and pleaded with them for shoes. (I can hardly bear to write this. How can we get shoes to God’s little ones in Ethiopia? Please email us if you have any ideas.)
There was a special time set aside for serving a meal and ministering to Ethiopia’s Falash Mura Jews, who are the remnants of the Ethiopian Jewish community. In 1992 Israel airlifted thousands of black Jews and brought them to live in Israel. The Falash Mura could not provide clear evidence of their Jewish roots and so remain in Ethiopia.
On a day off the team visited Entoto mountain where women were used like donkeys, bent double, carrying huge loads of wood on their backs, running down the mountain paths. Among them was a young girl, and although such child labour is illegal, in such poverty it is hard to stop.
The huge hall had been filled every day with street people, most of whom have no possibility of washing. When the sun beat down on the corrugated iron roof, the combination of heat and unwashed street dwellers was at times almost overpowering. There were no doubt bugs by the million, but no one on the team became really ill. Apart from a few tummy upsets among those who were brave enough to try the local spicy food, all were able to work throughout the period. The team returned home full of joy that so many had heard the gospel. Most of the team were from Northern Ireland, Eire and a few from England. Almost all had been on other of Ronnie’s Café missions over the years, serving meals to thousands in Eastern Europe and Israel, some of the team members taking the trip on their annual holiday time. I was telling a Christian about this and he said: ‘I cannot even imagine having that kind of commitment.’ What I cannot imagine is the great reward those people will surely receive one day when the Lord Jesus ‘makes up His jewels’!
Four Ethiopian Christian workers were involved at the two mission locations, and they will be discipling people who received salvation at the gospel meetings. We look forward to hearing what is happening out there since the team left. Ronnie plans to bring these four Ethiopian helpers on his next tour to Israel in April. The experience of visiting Israel will enrich their ministries. Please pray for the Lord’s provision to meet the expenses for the Ethiopian workers to make the trip to Israel. We will post items about the Ethiopian aftermath as we hear them.