The Blood Village

The Blood Village

1920 1280 Erik Laursen
It was a Monday night and we had been in Ethiopia for 11 days. Exhaustion, homesickness, culture–shock, anticipation and excitement were challenging each and every one of us at every given moment. The common phrase of the trip was “I can die now” because our souls were full and we just couldn’t imagine experiencing any more. But there was more, much more, to come.
We gathered for dinner, and there was an unspoken sorrow, as we all knew that our time here was coming to a close. We would soon depart from our dear Ethiopian brothers and sisters that had accompanied us on this mission. As I looked across the table, I could sense not only a physical weariness but a spiritual one as well. At least four of our team members were clearly sick with a cold and I had a good feeling that at least two more of them were also sick in their stomachs but doing their best to hide it.As we debriefed about our experiences thus far, and shared our anticipation of the last clinic day to come, I knew this last day could be the most challenging and spiritually important day of the trip. As I looked upon a sick, beaten down team that was doing their best to smile I knew we needed God more than ever before.The thing is, I (and a couple of the Ethiopians), knew something that didn’t  fully share with the team– we were going to “The Blood Village”. To be quite honest, I wasn’t entirely certain that we would be going to this village as our last stop of the trip until about a week before. I certainly didn’t want to scare the team away, but at the same time I knew there needed to be a spiritual sobriety concerning the situation we were about to face. I knew we needed the Lord to go before us, with us, and behind us if this was going to be a success. I knew that God had led us here. The question was– how do I lead the team into this?
I had first heard about “The Blood Village”  last November from one of the local church planters (I have to leave out the specific name of the village and church planters, as there has recently been severe persecution in the nearby towns). I had brought a team over to encourage the church planter, as he was working in a very difficult area of Ethiopia. I had no idea how difficult it actually was. He shared with us how God had blessed his ministry so much in the past 18 months. They were working in a predominately Muslim area that also had a large population of radical Orthodox. Amazingly, the government had given them land and they were able to acquire a good sized church building and had about 300 believers attending their services and being discipled!
Due to this favor they had equipped and trained a team of  five Church Planters and trained a Pastor to oversee the church so they could begin planting new churches in nearby villages. One of their church members had medical training and decided that he and his family would help to plant a church in the most difficult village by starting a small medical clinic there first. This was “The Blood Village”(we will refer to him as “Pastor A” so this doesn’t get confusing). Pastor A moved to the area and within a month or so the people of the village began to persecute him. The villagers were suspicious of his presence and repeatedly stole all the possessions in his home. The Pastor and his team learned that the village was ruled by a very powerful witchdoctor who had often required human sacrifices, in the not too distant past, hence the name “Blood Village”. This did not deter Pastor A, in fact it seemed to give him courage. A theme began to emerge in the team of church planters, “we will die for the Gospel if we have to!”I’m not sure that there was a “dry eye” among the Americans in the room that were hearing this story last November! It was a challenging moment for all of us and it led to one of the most intense prayer moments any of us had experienced. Acts 4:31 came quickly to my mind, as my wife had sent me a text containing this verse just the day before.
And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.”
So here we are, nearly six months later, about to embark on a medical mission in “The Blood Village”.  We had finished dinner and by this time I had informed all the team about the serious spiritual darkness that covered the land we would serve in the morning. Looking over the team I knew we must spend some serious time in prayer and worship together if we were to survive the next day.
We found a room, gathered together and filled the air with intercession and praise. I felt God speak loudly in my heart “do not be surprised at the physical battle enveloping the team, but know that it is spiritual!” As we departed to our rooms for the evening, I felt as if we were soldiers being prepared for deployment. I am certain each and everyone of us prayed ourselves in and out of sleep through the night. We had no idea what we were in for!
 
Beoved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” 1 Peter 4:12
As I awoke in the morning, I spent some of the most serious, sober, and somewhat fearful time in prayer that I had ever experienced. The story of the seven sons of Sceva ,in Acts 19, continued to come to my mind. Was I leading this team into an ambush of spiritual ignorance? Was I overestimating God’s favor on our group? Was I trying to accomplish something for my own personal ambition?
I was welcomed with an incredible surprise as I approached the breakfast table of a perfectly healthy, smiling, and ready team! It was a miracle! Just the night before they looked beat up, sick with colds, and discouraged! God had given them more than rest! He gave them healing and He gave me a new fire in my bones!We loaded the bus, picked up some more Bibles from a local partner, and began our one hour trek into the dry and dusty roads that led to the Blood Village.  Driving up to the site, not one of us anticipated all that we would experience that day. As we arrived, we prayed and I shared our commission from the Lord Jesus:
“He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” Mark 16:15–18
As we began to set up our clinic, my inner man became nervous as I looked upon the many people awaiting our arrival. Many of these people did not look very “friendly” and I was quickly reminded of the spiritual stronghold that Satan had on this village. I learned that the people practiced either a form of “folk–Islam”,that combined animistic beliefs and witchcraft with Islamic principles, or they were part of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church which was known for persecuting Evangelical Christians. I never thought I would stand in such a place. I wondered what the rest of our team was thinking, but I never asked.
Upon arrival, we were worried that we would have to work out of the government health post, which was overseen by a local Muslim and may impair our ability to share the Gospel. However, God had a plan and I was pleased to discover that the clinic established by Pastor A was intact and would be the site that we would work out of. God’s favor was just about to unleash in a way I had never experienced!As we began our clinic it was clear that there were far more people than our small team could possibly take care of. Because of translation issues, it was taking much longer than expected for each patient to be seen. We made a couple shifts in our system and things seemed to be going smoothly– and then God started moving!!
As our team of medical professionals bravely served and prayed over every one of their patients, our Ethiopian church planters shared the Gospel, and handed out literature and Bibles. It suddenly became clear that the harvest was ready in the Blood village!
I just couldn’t believe it as I witnessed Muslim after Muslim lift their hands and say “Iyesus getanew! (Jesus is Lord!)”. Men and women! Young and old! I was astonished! In this place that had only a few believers before our arrival, people were saying YES JESUS!Many of them shared that they had heard the message from the church planters that were serving their community over the past few months. Today was the day of Salvation for this village! But it didn’t stop there!
…they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well. Mark 16:18
After each patient was treated and before they could get their prescribed medicines, they had to visit Seifu for prayer in our counseling room. In this room we would share the Gospel the best we could with every person that came through. As I walked into the room I discovered much commotion with a young man. Seifu looked at me with tears in his eyes as did the young man’s mother. I didn’t understand what was happening so I requested translation. It was then explained to me that the young man was mute and had not been able to speak since he was a young child. They had been praying for him and as the young man accepted the Lord Jesus as Savior with nods of his head he then said it with his voice “Iyesus getanew! (Jeus is Lord)” The boy spoke! Seifu exclaimed “It’s a miracle!” The boy continued to say Jesus is Lord and other words of praise in his native tongue! I couldn’t believe it!
I grabbed the boy and the mother and brought them both over to the clinic to find who the doctor was that had treated them. As I walked in I shouted “Who treated this mute boy?”
Kim replied “I did.”
I asked her, “What was your diagnosis?”
She replied, “He is mute.”
I turned to the boy, raised my hand in the air and asked, “Iyesys getanew?” (is Jesus your Lord?)
The boy shouted,”Iyesus getanew!”
Kim immediately broke into tears and embraced the boy as the mother cried behind them! Then Kim told me that when she prayed over him, she prayed that he would at least be able to praise Jesus with his voice again!
The story doesn’t end there! After the boy and his mother left I returned to the counseling room to once again discover a lot of commotion. This time Seifu was on his knees on the dirt floor with a man in red pants sitting beside him.

I asked Seifu about the situation. He shared with me that the man had been suffering from extreme pain in his hip and he could barely walk, even with a cane. Seifu said, “The doctors had no good news for him and only gave him a prescription for medicine. We should pray for healing.”We began to pray, in fact cry out, to the Lord for healing in this room. The countenance on the man changed as he began to shake his leg in approval. Seifu asked him to walk through the room and it was clear – healing was happening! The next thing I know, the man is hopping, crouching and race walking through the village! I couldn’t believe it! We were all in tears!I grabbed the man and brought him to the clinic and shouted, “who treated the man with the bad leg and red pants?”Lisa answered,”Well, I did. He has some type of hip injury or something, causing severe pain and a limp.”I brought her outside to him, “Watch this…”

He walked back and forth without his cane. In bewilderment, almost silent, Lisa reached out to shake his hand– she just couldn’t believe it and neither could I!

As the day went on, we continued to see God glorified as the love of Christ was shown to each person we served. 38 people professed Jesus as their Lord and Savior! Over 400 heard the Gospel as our team passed out Gospel literature and evangelized. I was able to meet with the village’s Orthodox leaders. They thanked me and assured me that our church planters would continue to have favor in their village from now on. I later learned that just one month before three of the church planters were arrested by these leaders for preaching the Gospel. This was a miracle in itself!
Would you commit to praying for the many who heard and the many who continue to hear the Gospel but are not yet ready to accept Jesus as Lord? It is a very difficult decision as it often equates to persecution and discrimination in this area of Ethiopia. There is much fear in the hearts of the people!
Also, please pray that as our church planters disciple these new believers the powers of darkness over that village would be permanently broken! That the radical Orthodox in that area would come to know Jesus! That the witchdoctor would be forever broken of his power and that he too would come to Jesus! And that our church planters and their families would enter an amazing season of jubilee and spiritual harvest!May the future of the Blood Village only be known by the blood of Christ!
    

Erik Laursen

Erik is a missionary and director at New Covenant Foundation. His writing is a reflection of what God is doing in his ministries in Africa.

All posts by Erik Laursen
1 Comment
  • Beautiful story and words. Oh the power of Jesus. It almost sounded too good to be true. I pray for protection for these workers of God and laying their lives on the line.

Leave a Reply