Update Gondar 2009

By Bonnie Saul Wilks,
Messianic Jewish Bible Institute

Jonathan Bernis stood before an eager team on the second day of the medical clinic. He took a few moments to share his heart, and those words penetrated our spirits. I will never forget them.

The first day in Gondar, Ethiopia, had been very successful. An international team of professionals and lay workers had relinquished personal plans and obligations to spend two weeks in Africa. Some had worked in the clinics in previous years, and others were new. Everyone arrived with a great sense of expectancy. Some commented on how wonderfully organized the event  was—which  enabled the group to get off to a running start.

The team helped more than 700 people that first day—dressing wounds, administering medicines, diagnosing disease, performing surgeries, and giving people glasses. The professionals also counseled and taught simple health practices that would be advantageous for life after the clinic. It is so important to begin to raise a standard of preventive medicine here in Ethiopia, although it often seems like a tough, uphill battle. Simply, the needs are great, the illnesses almost ingrained into the culture, and the poverty extensive.

In the clinic after receiving medical attention, each Ethiopian is invited for prayer in a special room. Some decline but many joyfully accept. Each day the prayer counselors bubble over with testimonies. Just the first day the ears of two deaf people popped open! An entire Jewish family embraced Yeshua as their Messiah for the first time with great joy. Other Jews came to salvation along with four Muslims.

One of the most touching stories was of a young man hunched over and crippled. His knees locked together, he slowly hobbled into the prayer room. He nodded his head, “Yes,” he wanted a touch from God. Several laid hands on him and prayed first for a short leg to lengthen. It grew out. Suddenly, he began to move in ways that were unknown to him. First he flung one arm out and then the next. He kept repeating this movement with exuberance and strength. Then with great deliberation, he thrust a leg forward and then another; he walked across the room. The little space in the compound clinic, partitioned off for prayer, rang with shouts of praise and thanksgiving. Freely he moved without pain. Everyone in that room had witnessed a miracle!

Each day the numbers grew and the stories increased… more saved, more healed, and more rejoicing at the goodness of Yeshua, Redeemer and Messiah.

Physically and spiritually, so many wonderful things happened in the Gondar medical outreach this year. And that is exactly why Jonthan Bernis’ words to us that morning were so significant.

Jonathan told about his first trip to Ethiopia—his first clinic. The team had rolled up their sleeves and dug in to help the people both physically and spiritually. And Jonathan had every reason to rejoice and revel in the results—thousands received medicine or food and prayer. But he flew home with a broken heart. There were still so many people to reach… so many sick and dying… and more importantly, thousands that had never heard of the salvation and hope of Yeshua.

Jonathan explained that the team must not allow the unmet needs of yesterday dampen the joy of today. It is easy to become overwhelmed by the vastness of the poverty and disease. But we must work and then leave rejoicing in all that God accomplished, with a light heart that many lives have been eternally changed.

Those words still rang in my heart as I prepared to leave Ethiopia. And I treasure the wisdom of them for the long haul. It would be so easy to grieve the sick and dying that remain, but I am rejoicing for the light that has pierced the darkness today. I believe that darkness will not always prevail.

Therefore my beloved brethren be steadfast, immovable always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor in the Lord is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58).

Visit the official Jewish Voice Ministries International site.

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