Ethiopia is half a world away – and a totally different place to experience. So much about the food and culture is different from the things we enjoy here, and yet it is beautiful in its own way. There the Christians have been worshiping since the fourth century AD which is older than most of the manuscripts that make up our Bibles. To say the least, they’ve know the Triune God here a long time! They were the second nation in the world to adopt Christianity as an official religion, and have been following God since as orthodox, catholic, and evangelical Christians. They even boast of the Ethiopian Eunuch from Acts as one of the first witnesses to the Gospel upon returning home. Faith is in the soil here!
So why do I bring this up?
Because the church exists in multiple different forms, and I am believer that God is the one who guides us all. In the United States, we can go from a Catholic worship service to a Lutheran service, to a Methodist one, and they are similar enough. And yet, when you travel half a world away, God is guiding the people here too. We may not understand their language, or their rites, and some of the saints that model the faith may be different – and yet God is working and guiding, and leading his here church too. Here, there is holy ground!
To give an example – One of my favorite pieces of my time here was when the deacon and the priest began to praise God together in the language called geez (which is the ancient language of the church in Ethiopia) accompanied by a drum, sistrum (shaken like a tambourine), and a prayer stick. They danced in worship to God in a way that people have been praising god for centuries here. I understood very little of it, and yet it was holy. God guides us in different ways and yet it is good to be reminded that God is God and God’s church, while different across the world, is one and belongs to him.