By Benjamin Levitt,
Lead Logistics Manager, Jewish Voice Global Outreach
In this report about our first medical clinic to the new Gefat Jewish community in Woliso, Ethiopia, in February and March 2011, Benjamin Levitt recounts the miracles God did not just in restoring this remote, poor community’s Jewish heritage, but the miracles God did to enable the medical outreach to be successful. So many obstacles stood in the way, but your faithful prayers and God’s powerful strategies opened the door for amazing ministry there.
God Restores: A Taste of the Second Temple
One of the highlights for me was actually at the end during our Saturday morning Shabbat service when we were getting ready to pack up and leave Woliso to head back to Addis Ababa. Many of the Gefat elders came and worshipped with us and shared a little bit. At the end of that time, Jewish Voice was able to present a shofar to them. Gefat means “the blowers.” They get that name from hundreds of years ago having been known as the people who blow the shofar and who blow the trumpet and lead the way within the Ethiopian Jewish community. They hold onto that identity by a string, and you can see that.
I am so thankful that Jewish Voice was able to be a part of the restoration of something that only the Lord could restore after hundreds of years of it just kind of dwindling and looking like the little spark was just going to be snuffed out. The Lord restored it and He is blowing fresh wind, fresh fire there in that community.
We gave them the opportunity—well, we gave one of them the opportunity and the other eleven took the opportunity!—to attempt in front of everyone to blow this Yemenite, spiral shofar. There is this anticipation, and then you hear the squeak and the puff. If I tried to blow the shofar, when I do, that’s usually what it sounds like.
I am standing there, and I am overjoyed and I want to cry at the same time. I felt like when the Second Temple was built. It talks about those who had seen what was before were overjoyed and they were weeping at the same time because this is great and it wasn’t what it once was. Yet the prophets are saying, “Look ahead to what it will be one day.” So we got that taste. This wasn’t what it once was, but the Lord is doing something in the Gefat community, and He’s not going to stop and it’s going to be amazing.
Jonathan Bernis is going to have the opportunity next month to be in Woliso with the Gefat elders and continue some teaching, so we are excited about that and excited, Lord willing, to go back next year to Woliso. We are already planning on it.
Overcoming Six Obstacles Through Prayer
The second thing is to thank you for your prayers. It’s so important. I realized it during the outreach, and I am realizing more looking back on the outreach. One day, I think it was a Thursday or a Friday, the night before we had gotten an email from either Tim or Emily that said, “By the way, we are going to be meeting at 8:45 to 9:00 a.m. to pray for you guys and for your outreach.” I thought, OK, that’s good.
The next day, we are in Woliso and at 3 p.m. Jonathan Gannon, our director of Global Outreach, shared some of this: The villagers are angry because they don’t understand what we are doing. The road repair machine is broken. The well is stopped up with stones, and we have no water for the clinic patients. The 150 workers asked to repair the road instead of the machine don’t show up. The village leadership and city officials have finally told us there is nothing they can do logistically civil engineering-wise to help us with our campaign. The hotel has threated to cancel our group for the next day. The bridges are washed out on the road, and the pipe that we purchased and brought down is rejected by the local officials as too small.
At 6-7 p.m. that night, all of these things were resolved. Phone call by phone call by phone call, the road was repaired, the well was pumping living water out of dry ground. We didn’t know how or what happened. They somehow fix it. The road was ready. Hapte had the supplies he needed. We had the approval and cooperation of the village workers. There were 40 guys out there with axes working.
I remembered this email. “At 8:45”—6:45 Ethiopia time— “we will be praying for you.” So thank you. We need it so much. It’s hard out there. It can be frustrating. It can be discouraging.
There are obstacles. In Woliso, we were coming up against Orthodox Christianity, Islam—the Islamic Center for that region in Ethiopian is right down the road from where we did the clinic—and huts with giant witchcraft things on the top. Jewish Voice is going in as Jewish Believers in Jesus—double jeopardy.
The Lord is in control, and He is winning the victory and using this ministry to do it, but it is a battle. We feel that and I just want to remind you of that. I know you know that, but I want you to hear it from somebody who is out there. Keep praying for us. What we do is built on a foundation of prayer and fasting. Many of you who do fast don’t talk about it, but we know it’s happening. Thank you. Keep it up.