Tires and Snakes and Holy Spirit-Softened Hearts in Sodo

February 19 2007 / ShareHim in Ethiopia, Jan. 26 - Feb. 10 '07 #116
by William Warcholik

Campaign Site Narrative from Sodo, Sodo in Ethiopia. The speaker assigned to this site was William Warcholik.

The long ride from Addis Ababa to Sodo (a city of about 55,000 people in the southern part of Ethiopia) allowed ample time to enjoy the scenery. Cattle and goats occupied the roads rather than cars and trucks. The luggage on the roof had to frequently be retied as a result of the rough roads and pothole dodging. We were fascinated by watching winnowing of grain (just like in Bible times) in the farmyards alongside the road. Some places were dry farmlands, but fertile. Other areas were more tropical with banana and mango patches. The elevation was above 5,000 feet in all of our travels, the temperature stayed about 70 degrees, and there were no mosquitoes!

We had hoped it would be a four hour trip from Addis to Sodo. But the roads were so rough that eight hours elapsed before we reached the city of Hosanna where we dropped off two speakers. By then, it was too late to continue the journey to Sodo. Darkness was falling and bandits were reportedly in control of the roads after sunset, so we spent the night at the same hotel where the Hosanna teams would be staying. Eventually they were able to get the water going for us.

Early the next morning we continued the journey. About an hour from Sodo, we stopped again to secure the luggage. We noticed that a tire was failing. Not being near a garage, we pressed on. Upon our arrival in Soto, we saw the inner tube bulging through the tire tread. The angels must have supported the front of the vehicle for the last hour!

At the opening meeting the saints greeted us warmly. They provided flowers and sashes and lots of smiles. The attendance was about 500, some 400 were not church members. The people were thrilled with the messages from the Word of God beautifully illustrated with slides and video clips. When we were unable to get the video on the life of Jesus to play, we bought a DVD player at the local market. It was only $55 and worth every penny since the people loved the movie about Jesus! We were also able to show the Final Events DVD from Amazing Facts which had been translated into Amharic, the primary language of Ethiopia.

As the meetings continued, a snake would occasionally cause people to scatter. It only took a few minutes for the local people to kill the snake so everyone could return to their seats. Then we were able to point out that the serpent called the devil and Satan was trying to keep them from hearing the truths from the Bible that expose his lies. People were very faithful in attendance and brought friends.

Thunderstorms also provided excitement. Fortunately, the church building was nearby, so on some nights we had to move all the equipment inside and squeeze the hundreds of people into the building. The Lord blessed so everyone could hear, even those who had to stand at the windows.

Nathel was teaching hundreds of children every night. They surrounded her like bees around a flower. They loved the stories, the games, and the gifts (crayons, balloons, etc.) from America.

Of course, the baptisms were the highlight of the series. The first few invitations to follow Christ met with no response. We had expected everyone to come forward. When no one did, we were surprised. It was like evangelism in America! But the local leaders explained that Ethiopia is a hard field. Muslim and Orthodox people are very resistant to the Gospel.

But we continued to preach and pray and God gave the increase. On one night, the Holy Spirit impressed me to kneel and pray in the midst of the congregation while the local pastor made another appeal. Most of the congregation finally moved out of their pews to join me in kneeling in prayer.

On another night, the Holy Spirit impressed me to tell the people that Jesus invited people one at a time to follow Him. So I told them that I would come to invite them personally while the local pastor continued the appeal. As I went from row to row inviting people to come, no one moved. Then at last one person came. As I escorted him to the front, dozens of people began to move. The result? Sixty-eight people were baptized on the last Sabbath morning! By that time, the attendance had reached some 900, with only about 150 Adventist members. PTL! The message of God’s love and truth will not be forgotten by those who came!

The people loved us and were there to help us with our needs throughout the entire 16 days. We visited in some of their homes. We ate with them and shopped with them in the local markets. We felt their love, and gave ours. It was hard to say “Farewell until we meet again” to our new friends, our brothers and sisters in Christ. But we agreed to meet in Heaven. We rejoice in having new prayer partners in Africa. As we wait for Jesus to come, we will pray for that day when we will be together forever.
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