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My Time in Ethiopia

I am so overwhelmed by what God did over the past several days in Ethiopia. I just wanted to take a few minutes to share some of the highlights.

By way of summary, we partnered with Joshua Campaign to run a mass evangelistic outreach in the city of Daye, Sidamo in Ethiopia. The crusade began on Wednesday night and ended on Sunday afternoon. Over the course of those five days we ministered to more than 300,000 people with crowds of up to 200,000 at a time. It was by far the most exhilarating and impacting ministry event of our lives!

In each of the crusade services there was some local worship and then we proclaimed the word (either Karl Hargestam, the founder and CEO of Joshua Campaign, Per Akvist, the director for Ethiopia, or myself) with power and authority! It was absolutely amazing!

First, I wasn't fully aware of the difference between preaching to 200 people and preaching to 200,000 people who don't speak your language or understand your culture. It was a major shift for me and I had to become a learner again. All of my years of experience and all of my competence as a preacher went out the window in the face of this task. To complicate things, many of the people in attendance had very little education and many had never even seen a bible before! I could not preach as I usually do before this crowd! This was humbling for me as I was required to submit myself to being instructed again. I felt like a child, like a novice; I was a beginner all over again.

Friday night's meeting was very discouraging for me. Per had preached a powerful message on Wednesday night to launch the crusade, and when he prayed for miracles a long line of people came to testify of what God had done for them! The blind saw, the lame walked, the deaf heard... It was tremendous! Then on Thursday night Karl preached a powerful message and had even more powerful results! The line of miracle testimonies was endless! Not to mention the thousands of hands that went up in each service as the invitation to receive Christ was given!

Friday night was my first meeting (the first of three). I preached with all my might, and with all my heart! But I felt like a fish out of water. I know I had a powerful word, but it didn't feel like the people were fully connecting with me. I almost felt like the people were disappointed that Karl wasn't preaching!

At the end of my message I began to pray for miracles. I stormed the heavens with all my might and beseeched the Father to break out in power amongst the people. Then I invited people who had been healed to come to the platform and testify, as was the protocol. Then I asked for a song and waited. The song went on for about five minutes, and not one person came to testify of being healed or delivered. I was planning on sharing the miracles and then inviting people to receive Christ. But before the song ended, the rain came pouring down, and the crowd turned and left the premises with the quickness!

I was so devastated! I felt like such a failure! But at the same time I was struggling to remain in the Spirit, as I had been instructing our team in every one of our team meetings (every morning and every night). My soul was turning violently within me. At once it would move into the flesh and I'd be overcome by grief and discouragement and I would feel tears welling up in my eyes. Then, suddenly it would move into the Spirit and I would feel joy and encouragement! "This is your qualifying round," the Spirit kept assuring me. I finally prayed, "Lord, if you have to break me like this 1,000 more times to qualify me to walk in your power the way I desire, I'm willing and ready to go through it!" I ended the evening with joy.

On Saturday morning I woke up excited and terrified at the same time. I was still fighting embarrassment from the previous evening's fiasco, and half believed that Saturday morning's meeting would bring about the same result. God, are you going to heal anybody? Are you gonna let me look stupid again? I felt so much pressure and nervousness that I was on the verge of tears all morning, and I was fighting the urge to cancel the meeting and go home early! This lasted all the way up until the moment I took the microphone. There were more than 100,000 people on the field that morning, and the atmosphere was different than the night before! I realized then that even though I didn't see the breakthrough of miracles the night before, we had broken through the atmosphere, and now they were ready to receive the word through me. I proclaimed the word with power and authority, and I could feel the Spirit of God moving through the crowd as the word went out. I can't tell you what it feels like to see the Spirit of God move on 100,000 people. There were pockets here and there throughout the crowd where God was moving, as people were receiving and responding to the word.

Then came the miracle prayers! As I did the night before, I cried out to God to break out in miracles. The need was astounding! These people didn't have medical coverage, pharmacies, drug stores, or even first aid! This people had nothing to hope for but Jesus and Jesus alone! My only fear was that my lack of faith would prevent God from breaking out in mighty works to meet the needs of this great gathering!

After I prayed for miracles, two people came up to testify. One of them was deaf in one ear, and that ear opened during the miracle prayer. The second person had a large goiter on her neck that had caused her tremendous pain. It disappeared. While I was encouraged by the miracles, I was also reaching for more. There were thousands upon thousands of needs there. I needed faith for more than two miracles!

On Saturday night Karl was scheduled to preach. But just before we left for the crusade grounds the rain began to pour down in heavy sheets! We sat on the field just off the platform in the bust waiting for the rain to stop. But it was not to be stopped! Most of the people hed left the field, but there was still a good 5,000 - 10,000 people that were so desperate for something from God that they would not be deterred by rain! After a good 45 minutes of waiting, one of the Mission 1:11 team members jumped up and began preaching and praying for the sick. We all joined in and the platform was flooded with people desperate for miracles. We laid hands on each individual sick person, and the results were astounding! So many deaf/mutes were healed and heard and spoke for the first time! There were probably 30-40 notable miracles that night!

Then came Sunday morning, the last day of the crusade. Karl was scheduled to preach in the morning, and I was scheduled to preach in the evening. When we arrived at the crusade I was informed that I would preach right after Karl finished his service so that we could be finished before the rain arrived in the afternoon. I was a little worried that the attention span of the people would be gone by then and their capacity to reach for God would have been spent, but I was excited for the opportunity, nonetheless.

While Karl preached I was so stirred in my spirit! I looked out at this crowd and thought, "Wow, this is the fruit of Karl's ministry! He pioneered here 15 years ago, and now look what God has done!" I began to envision doing crusades like this in places like Banda, Acheh in Indonesia and in East Timur. I've been dreaming of preaching to uncountable multitudes in foreign countries since I was a little boy, but what dawned on me as Karl was preaching was that I always dreamed of holding these crusades in safe places. I turned to my wife and said, "We've got to get out of the box. God doesn't just want this in safe places. God wants this in dark places! We've got to go to places that seem impossible to penetrate and believe God to open the gates of righteousness for us!"

Then, suddenly, as I stood there listening to Karl preach, the Spirit of the Lord came upon me and I knew that God was going to speak to me. I was suddenly reminded of the last scene of the first Lord of the Rings movie, The Fellowship of the Ring. I remembered how Froto realized that it was his destiny to take the ring to Mt Morodor. Then Aragon stood up and said, "Then you'll have my sword, and I'll protect you with my life!" It hit me that Jesus is Froto and the ring is the gospel. I'm Aragon and my sword is my voice. Then the Lord said, The gospel is my gospel, and I'm taking it to the world. The question is do I have your voice? Do I have your sword? Will you serve and defend the gospel with your life? I'm not taking the gospel only to nice places. I'm taking it to the very gates of hell, to the place where Satan has his throne. Will you go with me? Will you give me your voice and put your life in the way of the gospel? I was broken before the Lord. I wept like I had not wept in a very long time. There on that platform I surrendered my life, my voice, my all to Jesus as if for the very first time! I felt like I had just gotten saved!

Suddenly I realized that all this time I was trying to use the gospel to reach people, instead of letting the gospel use me. I thought the gospel was the vehicle that I would use to share God's love with the world. Suddenly I saw that I was the vehicle that God wanted to use to share the gospel with the world. Suddenly, I became a servant of the gospel, rather than making the gospel the servant of my ministry. It was a profound paradigm shift! I cried out, "Lord, you have my sword, and I will defend your gospel with my life! I will go wherever you are going with the gospel! I surrender my all!"

When I got up to preach more than an hour later, I felt something completely different than I did the previous days. I felt peace. I felt power. I felt joy. I felt devoid of self and full of God. I stood before this massive crowd and was unmoved by the fact that they were completely distracted by the transition from one service to the next. They didn't seem very convinced that they needed to hear another word from God right after Karl's word. But I knew that I had the word that they needed to hear! I preached with such power, such authority, and such freedom! Within ten minutes the crowd was completely focused upon every word that I was speaking. They began to rejoice, cry out, clap, shake, and weep as I ministered the word. It was the most powerful preaching experience of my life!

Then I began to pray for miracles. I had a new sense of authority and power now. As the team surrounded the platform and stretched out their hands toward the people, I prayed for God to open the ears of the deaf, the eyes of the blind, and the minds and hearts of those who were bound. And God did more than I could have imagined! The miracles just kept coming and coming and coming. Deaf people began to suddenly hear again. Goiters and growths disappeared. There were miracles of many kinds! But to me the most powerful miracle was the deliverance of a demon possessed man who was so violent that they brought him to the crusade in chains! God set him completely free and they unchained him and brought him to the platform where he took the microphone and proclaimed that Jesus had set him free! His wife also testified of what God had done! I was so excited about that miracle because God had not only healed a broken body, but restored a marriage, a family, a household!

Overall, the trip was life-changing! I can't say enough about the powerful team that travelled with us! The team was so submitted, so unified, so focused, and each one had such a beautifully servants heart! And my wife...my wife Sunhee is the greatest missions team builder and trainer in the world! So much honor that came to me was actually the direct result of her ministry! All I could do was recognize, affirm, and submit to it! It was powerful!

Please keep praying because my wife and 6 others are still in Ethiopia for another week ministering in a region called Showa. I know that God is going to use them in powerful ways!


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Author: admin
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  1. I praise God for answered prayer. Son your whole life your mother and I have consistenly prayed over you, your brothers and your sister: "God, use them for your glory." And we are seeing our prayers answered before our very eyes in ways we could not even imagine. I praise God for your submission to the Spirit as well as the miracles that he has wrought during this crusade.
    Love, Your Daddy

  2. Wow Pb. I am honored to serve under you and your wife. Honored to be a part of the Missions team and honored that I was able to go through the team and you guys.

    I was told long ago that I would go to dark and unsafe places but that God would protect me...If I can be used of God and you I am available to be trained and go where Living Hope is sent to minister.

    I am truly honored and humbled to be under your covering!

  3. Pastor Benjamin! Wow pops! I couldn't tell by the pictures that so much was going on in your soul and spirit during the crusade! Man! I don't know how you got over that first night. That must've been tough!

    I don't mind feeling like a child and a novice again... but I do mind feeling like a failure and embarrassment in front of 200,000 people. I can't believe there were zero miracles the first time you preached! If I were you, I would've thrown my mic down in protest before God!

    I also had many experiences where I step out boldly - confident that God will show up powerfully and come up flat. Fortunately for me, it's been in front of crowds of 30 or 300. But even then it's been tough to deal with that feeling... "Did I miss something? Was it because of a sin I committed last month? Did my team not pray enough? Is there a witchcraft attack? Is God trying to teach me something? I don't like looking like a chump Lord!" Most of the time, I'm so thick skinned and unaware of what God is trying to teach me in those moments. Being a choleric, my only response is to smother the embarrassment by stepping out again... but man pops! You pushed through and got the breakthrough...!

    I'm claiming your lesson about letting the gospel use you instead of using the gospel... it's mine! And I'll be expecting to preach in front of hundreds of thousands in Asia and Africa soon. If pops can do it, I can do it!

  4. Wow, I don't know why but I'm just now seeing all three of these comments! First, Dad, I'm so honored to be your son! I'll never forget the day you laid me under your chair in Faith Hall in that all-night prayer meeting when I was a little boy and laid your hands on me and gave me to God. That moment marked my life forever! If I stand tall its only because I'm standing on your shoulders!

    Tuty, I'm so thankful for you and so excited about what God is doing and going to do. You have exhibited so much humility, so much grace, so much patience...This is only the beginning! You are a world-traveller and a world-changer!

    And Pastor Christian, your comments deeply move my heart. One day we are going to minister in crusades together! Watch! God is going to do it! We prayed for your Pusan church plant tonight, and I know that God will not only give you Pusan, but give you nations! You are already living out Psalm 2!

    Thanks to all three of you for your comments! They blessed my jet-lagged soul! (just got home from Korea yesterday)