We’ve all seen the signs. “NY or BUST!” “England or BUST!”…”Ethiopia or BUST!”
That last one is the sign I was holding last Thursday when I had to make the difficult decision to postpone our trip to Ethiopia a few more months. Yep! That’s right… I’ve been BUSTED!
To make a very long story short here’s basically what happened last week.
First of all you must know that this decision was not made out of fear. It wasn’t made out of fear of the Ebola Virus. It wasn’t made out of fear of others reactions to our team upon returning. And it certainly wasn’t made out of the fear of the uncertain future.
This decision was made thoughtfully and prayerfully. I can honestly say that this was the very first decision in my life that I actually anguished over. Here’s what happened and our response:
A little over a week ago, a nurse carrying the Ebola Virus traveled though Cleveland and Akron visiting friends and family. In response to her visiting friends and family, Kent State (30 minutes aways from Fellowship) closed part of their campus as a response to possible contact. The next day, 2 schools in Solon (5 miles away from Fellowship) closed as a response to possible contact. Later that afternoon 2 other schools in Chagrin made national news as they closed as well. Immediately, area Schools began issuing email blast stating their possible response if an outbreak occurs and then to top it all off, a member of our team needs to pull away from the trip.
Our community began to move into crisis mode. Whether or not it was justified, our community has become keenly sensitive to the potential dangers.
Ultimately what led to the decision was answering one simple question: What is the purpose of the trip?
From the very early stages of development, the purpose of this trip was to draw our church together in a clear direction and partnership in ministry in Ethiopia with Horizon International. Due to circumstances out of our control,(Community reaction to Ebola) the best opportunity to move the church towards this goal shifted from this vision trip in October to a trip this coming Spring. Although the team of 4 (3 pastors and 1 lay leader) is still willing to go, it has become abundant clear that God is leading us to postpone the trip until many more people can join us on the trip both physically as well though prayer and excitement. If our team was go ahead and go to Ethiopia, it would need to be quietly and discretely… which is exactly the opposite of what we want for this trip.
This decision was made only after seeking counsel from many people both here in Cleveland as well as from our partners in Africa.
If you know me well, you understand my disappointment.
I love Ethiopia. It has become like a 2nd home to my wife and I. Not returning as expected was very difficult. With that being said, I want to offer some words of encouragement to you. These are the same words of encouragement that was given to me by Jonathan Morton, the Director of International Ministries at One Mission Society (OMS) and a good friend.
When it comes to the tough decisions you need to remember that it’s not your job to make a decision. It’s your jobs to seek God and discover 3 things:
God’s Will – what does He want us to do
God’s Timing – when does He want us to act
God’s Way – how does He want us to act
So here’s how we did this:
Pastor Chris, my Lead Pastor, and I begin to talk and pray about possible options
We spoke with:
All team members and Pastors
An experienced Elder who possesses both wisdom as well as a passion for Africa
The Horizon International Go-Team leader in South Africa (who was joining us in Ethiopia)
I also spoke with several ministry peers from around the country.
Most importantly, Chris and I spend Thursday night fasting, praying, and searching scriptures for Gods leading.
After all of this, the next morning, we came together and made a very clear decision to postpone the trip until Spring 2015.
We sought God’s Will, His Timing, and His Way and He showed it to us.
It was a tough decision, but I’m thankful that it wasn’t mine.
When you’re convinced that God wants you to do something, go somewhere, or act a certain way it’s s important to take the time first to seek God’s will, God’s timing, and God’s Way.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.” -Proverbs 3:5-6
Please continue to pray as we’re currently making plans for our next upcoming trip next March/April.