The peaceful East African setting in Bishoftu at an elevation of 6300 feet has given our guests a much needed respite. Pleasant breezes, trees and fields, birds chirping at sunrise. All the food we enjoyed was locally grown on site.
The guests are locally grown, too. Ethiopians in ministry from all across the land. What a gift they are to each other, to their scattered churches and communities. They come from different churches, denominations and experiences. A few know some of the other 25 couples, but many met for the first time. We pray these will become life-long friends and ministry partners.
Together in Christ was the theme we focussed on throughout the week. We learned about navigating and responding to the thoughts and feelings of each partner in marriage. We saw how important it is to understand how our spouse thinks and feels. (Scott Johnson teaching).
From Ephesians 4, we learned about the uniting love described which flows from God to His family and towards one another. First to us, then to our marriages, then to our children, spreading to the church and beyond to our communities (taught by Jim and Arline Parris).
This passion is rooted in our Identity in Christ, which illuminates our acceptance, security and significance in Him (Rick and Diana Lowe teaching).
Translators are helped us in the training sessions and just as importantly, at breaks for snacks and mealtimes. They brought us into wonderful and personal conversations through their facility with the Amharic and Oromia languages.
All through the week we felt and saw the presence of the Lord working in the lives of the couples. Many shared their stories of hardship and perseverance. Everyone expressed how much this time of rest, refreshment and teaching has meant to them. One woman said, “Our husbands have traveled to some trainings, but this is the first time the wives been invited. We feel we are being valued. Thank you.”
On our last night together, we hosted a special romantic dinner. The couples really became more comfortable and engaging each other. It was beautiful to see the love expressed as each couple read (some sang) their love letters to each other. God was truly transforming lives and marriages this week and each couple will remember what they enjoyed and learned for a very long time.
Thank you for your prayers and investment in the growth and deepening of the church in this beloved land of Ethiopia!
And the Shepherds’ Support Board:
David and Beth Butler, Jack and Nancy Shirley,
Sid and Zane Williams, Daniel and Kate Wurzberg, Connie Troxel