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The DeJongs Ethiopian Adventure

posted 30 Jan 2019, 17:32 by June Miller, MCA Communications

The DeJongs Ethiopian Adventure


After 4 months of sunshine, we stepped off the plane in Edmonton on January 10th to a bitterly cold day that made us question why we returned from Ethiopia. Our 4-month mission assignment with Eastern Mennonite Missions AND Mennonite Church Canada AND Mennonite Central Committee-Ethiopia was an amazing time that included a warm welcome, warm weather, and warm hugs.

When we first arrived in Ethiopia, I (Joanne) struggled with all the changes. Comforts I took for granted in Canada were suddenly gone: warm water, reliable electricity and wifi, as well as basic understanding of how things operate culturally and practically. Eventually, I was okay, but it reminded me how easy it is to be addicted to comfort in the West and how it is good for our souls to be uncomfortable once in a while. On one trip home from a church visit, we were part of a group of 24 people crammed into a 15 passenger bus. If you opened the door, five people would immediately fall out. No one was complaining and everyone seemed happy even though I am sure we weren’t the only ones who were painfully twisted. The pastor asked me how I was feeling and I replied, “God is good”. When I said those words out loud I suddenly felt strengthened and happy that I did not complain. I instantly felt better. God IS good!

Half our time was spent at the Meserete Kristos College. The other half was split between visiting & preaching in churches and visiting homes of students, pastors and staff. Werner taught Anabaptist History and Thought as well as Spiritual Formation to over 90 eager students. I preached in the chapel, prison, and churches, tutored and guest lectured.  We were happy to see that this College was definitely a Mennonite School with Peace and Justice studies as well as a Community Development stream. One day Werner asked a student if he considered himself an Evangelical and the student replied, “No- I am Anabaptist”. This being said, the church is growing quickly and they are not able to keep up with discipleship training. There is a danger of losing the rich Anabaptist tradition planted by the many faithful Mennonite missionaries. The students, Werner, and I have a history of which we can be proud. It would be a shame to lose it.

A big high was visiting Sudanese Christians from the Mennonite Church in Gambella (pictured right). Rueben Tut, the South Sudanese Mennonite pastor in Edmonton, asked us to visit some of his people in the refugee camps in Ethiopia. Due to violence, they had to come out of the camps to see us. It was a great time of mutual blessing. Their leaders expressed a desperate need for discipleship and peace training. Pastor Mezgebu from the Bethel Ethiopian Church in Edmonton (pictured below) also had a chance to visit us while we were in Ethiopia. He has a heart to do something in Gambella as well. I find it curious that MCA has Ethiopian, South Sudanese, and churches in close relationship to these cultures. Could we, as MCA, be divinely prepared to do something very special in East Africa? I do wonder if God is up to something?

We have many stories but want to be sure to express our great thankfulness to all of you in MCA who have supported us in prayer and giving. Thank you and we love you!

Werner and Joanne DeJong

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