This post is part of my “stories” series. In this series, I share stories of how people live their lives in response to the gospel and as a demonstration of God’s love in order to teach us and to provide an example to provoke us to love and good works. (See “stories: A New Series” for more information about this series.)
When I was applying to PhD programs, someone told me to choose a program based on the professor that I would be working with. Why? Because I would be spending alot of time with that person, and his or her way of life and thinking would surely affect my own.
After considering several different people and program, I realized that I most wanted to study under David Alan Black. One of the reasons that I wanted to work with him is because of his and his wife’s love of the people of Ethiopia.
Becky Lynn Black grew up in Ethiopia as the daughter of missionaries. A few years ago, she took her husband back to that country to show him where she was raised. On that trip, they both fell in love with the people they met. In the years since, they have made several trips back to Ethiopia, always using their own money to pay for their transportation and other needs. When people give them money, they always use that money for Ethiopians, not for themselves, not even for their travel expenses to get to Ethiopia. Furthermore, the Blacks work with the existing churches in Ethiopia; they do not try to start their own work, but work where God is already working. (You can find out more about their trips and how they have invited other believers to join them in Dave Black’s Ethiopia Files.)
I’ll simply tell two stories of many that could be told. On one of their early trips to Ethiopia, the Blacks met a family whose young daughter had been murdered because the family were Christians. The Blacks loved on the family, comforted them, and mourned with them.
As they were driving back from that village, they noticed lights in the distance. They asked about the source of the lights, and they were told that it was a prison – the very prison where the young girl’s murderer was being held. They asked to go to the prison, and through that visit and subsequent visits, they were able to meet and befriend the man who murdered the young Christian girl.
The church in the area began to provide the murderer with blankets and other necessities that the prisons do not provide. They began to show him that they loved him in spite of his sin and his current circumstances. Eventually, the murderer confessed Christ and began following him. His life changed so drastically that the prison decided to release him. Now, the murderer is training to be an evangelist. In Ethiopia, this means he plans to travel away from home, to stay in various places, in order to proclaim the gospel and build up the churches in those areas.
Last year, Mrs. Black travelled to Ethiopia and stayed for several months to help an Ethiopian woman who was pregnant. The woman had lost several babies and was having difficulties with this pregnancy. So, Mrs. Black took care of her until she delivered a healthy baby.
There are many, many more stories like these in the Ethiopia Files and many, many more lives that have been changed by a proclamation of the gospel that includes a demonstration of God’s love through Jesus Christ. Through the Blacks, God has provided Ethiopians with Bibles, blankets, reading glasses, vehicles, a medical clinic, and wells for clean drinking water.
I decided a few years ago that this was the kind of man and family that I wanted to influence myself and my family.