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The Granger's September 2020 Newsletter


 


 
 
 
 
Wasn’t planning it, wasn’t expecting it! Wasn’t expecting what? Wasn’t expecting 2020 to come in like a tsunami and wreck everything we'd been planning and working towards: 1 Addis Ababa church plant, 2 missionary families relocating to Ethiopia from the USA, 3 missions trips to Ethiopia, 1 conference to train Muslim background believing leaders from Sudan, Yemen, Somalia, and beyond + weekly Somali leadership trainings, 2 planned trips to South Africa for partnership ministry building, 1 pastors conference in America, all cancelled or pushed back! So, what was plan B? We dropped to our knees and cried to God for wisdom and direction for a year which felt stolen. And I am confident the Lord has answered prayer.  
 







 
 

 


 
 

Plan B


 
 
 
When we rose from our knees it was with clarity and direction. No, the sadness or perhaps low-grade depression about unfulfilled expectations wasn’t gone, but it also wasn’t in control. You can quarantine the church-planter, you can quarantine the pastor, you can even quarantine the church, but you can’t quarantine the gospel! And 2020 wasn’t stolen from us, it was never ours! It’s God’s. It was always God’s. And what he wills, well, it will most certainly come to pass. So what was Plan B? To cheerfully submit to his plan and to get in where we fit in! And by his grace, I trust that is what we are doing.  

Our little church plant (many of whom are pictured above on a recent hiking trip) is currently undertaking a new project in the absence of our ability to hold Sunday gatherings until the government reopens churches. My energy has been spent writing a 140-page book specifically contextualized for Ethiopia about sin and the gospel. It is essentially an introduction to the biblical concept of sin and how God deals with it. With our people in mind, its purpose is to confront legalism and also the prosperity gospel so as to defend the cross. Why did the Father send the Son? What is at the heart of the cross? Jesus dying in the place of sinners who deserved judgment for their sin. As of today, the book is in translation to Amharic, and we’re hoping it is completed by October 31st. As for Abenezer, my ministry partner, he is producing an album, the content of which correlates with the themes of the book: A Fallen World, My Sin, God’s Justice & Judgment, The Gospel, and Sanctification. Each song was written by our church planting team in Amharic with three criteria:1) Song themes matching those of the book; 2) Songs that are gospel-centered; & 3) Songs written for congregational church singing. Currently, it is under production and we’ve been to the studio for recording a couple of times. And can I be candid with you? Full disclosure… The album is bangin!
 







 
 
 
One of our song writing workshops in our living room: Each song is given a theme, then a theological blueprint, followed by writing and discussion, along with music.  









 
 
 
Who's that? Oh, hmm, that's my wife! Yup she's singing on the album too! This was our first day of recording in the studio. Kenean is laying down some vocals for a demo.   










 
 
 
In August our family had a chance to get out of the house and out of the city for the first time in months. We'd been stuck inside for the most part since March or April! Our road-trip took us to the North with some friends and family where we had a chance to see the source of the Nile, hike in mountains, and see some stunning wilderness. Kenean's smile here captures what was probably the feeling in everyone's heart to get out of Addis Ababa.  










 
 
 
These are the castles of Gondar.  Yes indeed, there are castles in Africa. And kings and queens used to live in them.  
 
 

 
The final stop on our road trip was the Simien Mountians in Northern Ethiopia.  These are the Gelada Monkeys and they are only found in the Northern Highlands of Ethiopia.  
 
 
 
The Simien Mountians in Northern Ethiopia.   
 
 
 
All of the water that washes Ethiopia during the rainy season ends up here. This is the source of the Nile. Over 85% of the Nile comes from here in Ethiopia.  
 
 
Unreached People Groups Continued...

When Corona began rearing its devilish head here in Ethiopia, it did so with a stigma: “The foreigners are bringing Covid-19." Well, that sentiment stuck for some time and even a number of Somali’s I’d been teaching were fearful to meet with me. So we stopped gathering (though Muhammad and I continued to meet regularly). Nevertheless, the Lord continued to work mightily among these believers. So much so that about six weeks ago they baptized 20 new converts from Islam. And around that time they welcomed me to come back and begin teaching again.  So, every Friday we (me and a young Ethiopian I’m training) go and give a two-fold training to a small group of Somali leaders. Firstly we give leadership lessons from the Bible: what a pastor is, what he does, and what he should be like. Secondly we expositionally preach from a book in the Bible. We’re currently working our way through the epistle to the Romans. In turn, the Somali leaders break up and spread out to the various Somali house churches across the city and repeat the lesson. Last week it was like a symphony to my ears when one of the leaders asked, “Why are we only doing this once a week? Can’t we at least do it twice?"
Over the last year I’ve kept you in the loop regarding Muhammed and the persecutions he’s experienced. He’s lost everything for Christ; his wife even took the children and left him for his embrace of Christianity. About 8 months back his wife briefly brought the children to Addis Ababa from Somalia only to return shortly thereafter. But recently Muhammed’s son called him from Somalia and said, “I want to come to Ethiopia so I can worship Jesus at church.” And so Muhammed traveled to the border and surprisingly enough, his entire family including his wife followed him back to Addis Ababa and they are now living together for the first time in over 7 years. Please pray for the conversion of his family from Islam. He wants that more than anything in the world.
 








 
 
 
Grabbing lunch at our favorite shawarma joint after doing a Somali Church Leadership training [Left to Right - Muhammed, Rashid, Me]  










 
 
 
This is Muhammad's beautiful family. They invited me over last week and I taught them about the gospel.  Muhammad has asked me to come teach his family every week.  Please pray for fruit to come from these times.   










 
 

Prayer Requests:
Short term prayer requests:

  • Please pray for Abenezer - for growth in wisdom, grace, theological discernment, and holiness; for our unity.
  • Please continue to pray for Muhammad and the Somali Christians.  Pray for the Lord's comforting presence in his life.
  • Please continue to pray for my dad Mike Granger who continues to fight cancer.
  • Please pray for the Thomas's and the Pannell's - both of these families were supposed to move here from the USA back in June. Due to Corona it appears they will not be able to make it until some time next year.
  • Please pray for God to grow Trinity Fellowship in holiness, unity, love for Christ, and love for one another.
Long term prayer requests:
  • Please pray that God would give us grace for a life-long sustained obsessing love for the person of Christ.
  • Please pray for total surrender to Christ.
  • Please pray that God would help us to start a Christ-Centered Church in Addis Ababa that would serve as a model to all of Ethiopia.
  • Please pray that God would give us faithful and gifted indigenous partners; that he would lead us to the right men to disciple and train for ministry.
 
 
 
 


Prisons Would Palaces Prove

There’s an old hymn entitled How Tedious and Tasteless written by John Newton, the same author who penned Amazing Grace.  Over the course of months and months of being shut up in our house there’s been a line from that song that has stuck with and challenged me:

Content with beholding His face,
My all to His pleasure resigned,
No changes of season or place,
Would make any change in my mind:
While blessed with a sense of His love,
A palace a toy would appear;
All prisons would palaces prove,
If Jesus would dwell with me there.


2020 has had many a dark day in many a dark way. But that line, “prisons would palaces prove if Christ would dwell with me there,” has been a constant reminder of the possibility to taste of heaven in the worst of circumstances. In Ephesians 3, Paul prays for the church to “comprehend… what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” That fullness of God isn’t something we’re supposed to wait to experience upon arriving in heaven. Paul’s praying for God's people to understand something, to experience something beyond human comprehension, while still living on this fallen earth. Something that they are perhaps currently lacking. There’s much hope in these verses for 2020, to pursue the Lord with confidence that he may be found regardless of what may appear to be crumbling around us. That’s what faith does. It sees the problems, its cognizant of the crisis and then it looks up and away to Jesus. Faith makes us live according to the reality of who Jesus is and what he has done for us in the midst of crisis. What he’s going to continue to do for us. We might feel like we’re under house arrest, we might be bored, we might be depressed, folks might be burning and looting, governments may feel unsteady, but prisons would palaces prove if Christ would dwell with me there. "Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him" (Heb. 11:6). "Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you" (James 4:8). This is all the ammunition we need to pursue the true and living God today. This isn’t a band-aid.  Its not a pain killer. Its the reality that we may know and experience God in darkness.
 








 
 
Until Next Time...

Please know our deep and sincere gratitude for your support. We are seeing lives changed here and God is using you to make all that happen. We’re living by faith and answered prayers out here. Your answered prayers. Thank you for partnering with us. Thank you for ministering with us.  Thank you for praying for us! We beg of you to keep it up!
 








 
 
 


 


 
 



 


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