The Fruit of 'Yes!'
We call it the 'Oh-No!' principle... that moment just after the Spirit stirs you with a genuine call of God... that moment when your flesh kicks in and pulls back on the reins. Moses had an 'Oh-No!' moment at the burning bush. Gideon had one when God called him into battle for his people. Most of the prophets initially responded to their own calls with an 'Oh-No!'. Peter had an 'Oh-No!' reaction when he heard Jesus describe the suffering that awaited him in Jerusalem. Maybe it's one way to see Jesus' own agony in Gethsemane.
Scriptures frequently describe the plans of God as a path or a road. Think of it this way: To stay on God's path we often have to climb over the 'Oh-No!' reluctance that lies like a fallen tree across our way. This spring I met a group of saints who are doing just that, taking enormous risks to share the love of Jesus in the Muslim territories of northern Kenya, southern Sudan and southern Ethiopia. In his mercy, God boosted me over my own reticence so that I could go to Kenya to see their work, and now to put before us a challenge to bless them.
The Eleventh Hour Network (EHN) is beginning its eleventh year. Working closely with the new Kenyan archbishop, Rt. Rev. Jackson Ole Sapit, a dozen leaders, both clergy and lay, fan out in the Muslim north of Kenya, bringing relief to people hungry and hard-pressed. And along with physical help, they also witness to the love of the God who left the safety of heaven to give his life for us and create a people for himself. EHN staff goes village to village, door to door, showing the Jesus film at night under the stars, and planting house churches of new disciples. Every visit finds them distributing needed supplies, encouraging the new churches and continuing the work of evangelism.
The founder and director of EHN is the Rev. Getachew Teshome. Getachew is someone of whom the Rev. David Pileggi, rector of Christ Church in Jerusalem, has said, "Getachew is a man of uncommon courage and vision. His faithful ministry of evangelism and discipleship among Muslims in one of the most dangerous places in the world is truly inspirational." Formerly, David Pileggi led Shoresh Study Tours, a ministry of CMJ (Christian Ministry among Jewish people). During his tenure as Shoresh director in Jerusalem, I led the CMJ ministry in the United States.
Almost twenty years ago, the CMJ USA office (then called Shoresh USA) embarked on an unusual project. The Anglican Church was expanding exponentially in Africa, with churches being rapidly planted and led by relatively untrained disciples. A seminary education for such leaders was out of reach. However, the Shoresh ministry and the bishops overseeing this remarkable growth believed that a short, hands-on course in the Bible in the Land of Israel would go a long way toward equipping these emerging leaders.
Getting emerging Global South leadership to Israel was an unusual funding goal, but God prospered and anointed it. Beyond the outcomes we envisioned, the first bishops to study with the Shoresh program in Israel became those who offered help to orthodox Anglicans in the U.S. when their stand on the authority of Scripture resulted in persecution and loss. Beyond that, the ties of the Global South leadership to Israel were largely responsible for the GAFCON movement's inaugural conference location in Jerusalem. The fruit of that original initiative was beyond what we in CMJ USA could have asked for or imagined! (Eph. 3:20)
I was struck as I met the EHN staff in Kenya that they have the same need we'd seen years ago in emerging African Anglican leadership... a need for the Scripture study and focus on biblical discipleship that the Shoresh program uniquely offers.
Our hope is to provide for the twelve staff of the EHN (some clergy and some lay) to join CMJ USA Director Daryl Fenton and former director Theresa Newell's Shoresh Exegetical tour, led by David Pileggi, next February. If you would like to financially partner with us on this project, please contact me or visit the CMJ giving page (designate your donation for ‘Shoresh Gifts’ with memo ‘EHN’). God is blessing and empowering ministry in the Muslim world in an unprecedented way in our day and we believe this study opportunity will bear profound fruit.
Marcia Lebhar is a storyteller, teacher, and exhorter with a passion for the Scriptures and to see ‘ordinary’ believers in Jesus discipled and equipped to be extraordinarily used of God. Her column, Discipleship Journal, can be found on the Gulf Atlantic Diocese website. A former executive director of CMJ USA, Marcia is married to the Gulf Atlantic Diocese's bishop, Neil Lebhar. The Lebhars have four children and eight grandchildren. You can contact Marcia here.