In my next adventure I had the joy of visiting Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for 2 weeks! One of my good friends has just planted a long term work in this city coming out of YWAM Perth, and we were invited to join the team in the city for a few weeks to do some spiritual mapping, prayer and worship.
The journey to Addis Ababa was a bit of a mission – first a flight to Doha, Qatar and then a 15 hour layover for our next flight! Thankfully Qatar airport has some quiet rooms with semi reclined seating, so as a team we staked out a corner of the room with our bags and bedding and settled in for the day! We slept, ate, read books, and explored the airport (it has some strange artwork/sculptures I’m not gonna lie) and then boarded our 2nd plane to Ethiopia! We arrived in the middle of the night, so crashed on the floor of our friends’ apartment, and woke up in the morning ready for our next adventure!
For the first week we explored all different parts of the city, looking at various parts of current society, as well as the history. From there, we used all the information that we had gathered to find patterns and themes that we believed to be significant for the future development of the city. We allocated different topics to each day of our second week, and asked the Lord for strategies and guidance as to how to approach each day. Here is a brief outline of what we did on each day.
Day 1 – Praying for Business and Economics of thee City We went to the main railway line which connects Ethiopia with the Port of Djibouti – a significant place of economic trade. There we had a time of prayer and worship, and then gave out food to beggars around the area as a prophetic act, praying that the business and economic dealings of the city would be done with integrity and righteousness, helping to look after the poor. We also visited both the Ministry of Trade and Ministry of Finance and had times of prayer and worship outside each of these buildings. It was interesting to see different people’s responses to our public worship – some people were fascinated and would stand and watch for a while (some even joined in!) and sometimes we had to move on as not all guards or officials were happy with us being there! But even then, we would go find a new spot and continue with our ministry.
Day 2 – Ladies Day! Violence against women and attitudes towards women is a BIG problem in Ethiopia, although statistics are showing encouraging signs of this beginning to change. We started the day by visiting the local Women’s Lawyer Association, where we met with their director to discuss some of these issues. This was both great in that we got to make connections for our friends who will be in the city long term, but also because we had the opportunity to pray for the Director at the end of our time with her! This association does an amazing job of advocating for women’s rights, educating people on the rights of women, and also giving free legal advice and help to vulnerable women who are in need of help, so it was an honour to be able to pray for them and the work that they do.
That day we also had a time of prayer, worship and Bible reading outside of the Ministry for Women and Children, and made connections with several Ethiopian church pastors in the process which was great. We ended the day by handing out flowers to women in the area that we lived, again as a prophetic act of their beauty, value, and worth. You would be amazed how many men got jealous and asked us for some flowers too!!
Day 3 – Addis Ababa to the Nations! One key thing that we discovered during our first week of research is how significant this city is in terms of reaching out to other nations, especially in Africa. With both the African Union and the African United Nations Headquarters based in this city, a lot of powerful and influential people come to this city regularly to make important decisions about the future. It is interesting to note that Ethiopia is one of very few Christian nations in this part of Africa, being almost entirely surrounded by Muslim nations, and we believe that as such, this city has a significant role to play in missions and discipling nations in the ways of Christ. Ethiopia has very strong Christian foundations, and you can very much see that in daily life. As a team we were particularly shocked at how much effort drivers took to NOT run us over, even stopping to allow us to cross the road – which is not something we can say for other nations that we have visited! They also showed respect and care for us as foreigners, and we felt incredibly safe the majority of the time.
We started this day by praying outside of the African Union – it’s a pretty impressive looking building, but unfortunately we were not allowed to go inside as we were unable to pre-arrange a visit. We were, however, allowed into the United Nations building, which was absolutely incredible. The Lord opened doors for us to be able to go in and have a tour of the main conference centre – the one that you see on TV where all the leaders of the world gather to discuss important matters. At the end of the tour we asked our guide if it would be ok if we stayed behind for a little bit because we would like to have a time of prayer in the main auditorium, to which she said we were very welcome to stay as long as we wanted! So there we sat, in the main lobby area where hundreds of powerful world leaders walk through every year, praying for them, and asking that they would come to know the wisdom of God in all their decisions. It was quite the amazing opportunity. The geek inside of me also got pretty excited about seeing the main conference rooms too 😉
On Day 4 we focussed on the spread of other religions that have come to the nation of Ethiopia, especially Islam, and went to several locations for times of Bible reading, prayer and worship, asking for the gospel to spread to those who do not have it. On Day 6 (yes I have skipped a day – we will come back to that one in a minute!) we focussed on Government, and went to pray for the city leaders and those who uphold the law at the City Hall, the Supreme Court, and a local police station. We managed to look up the names of specific government leaders for the city and pray for them one at a time, asking God for specific words for each one of them which was great, although some of their names were a little tricky to pronounce! And then on Day 7 we focussed on the Body of Christ and the local church, going and having a time of prayer and worship outside one of the main Cathedrals in the city centre, and then again, handing out food and water to people on the streets as a prophetic act of the church going out of their buildings and loving people in their communities. We ended our final day in Addis Ababa by praying for our long term team as they start to settle in to the city and build their ministry.
So what did we do on Day 5 you ask? Well, as many of you will know, Ethiopia suffered a terrible period of civil war and conflict during the 1970s – 1990’s, as well as a brutal Italian occupation during World War II. Political instability and ideology led to massacres and thousands of people being killed. We discovered during our week of research that this also had a strong connection to the area of education in several different ways. Firstly, the location of the University of Addis Ababa marks the site where one of the worst massacres took place in the city during Italian occupation. Both during this massacre and the ones that followed in the 70’s under the Derg regime, young academics and intellectuals were often targeted. A whole generation of educated young people was wiped out by genocide, and you can see how this has affected the development of the city.
We believed this to be a very important thing to pray into, and so we spent the day visiting several different locations where massacres and blood shed occurred, taking time to pray for those affected by these events, and inviting the presence of Jesus to these places through our worship, asking Him to bring healing and restoration for all that had occurred. We also visited several different education institutions to pray for the future of education and those young people who will grow up and play a part in the future development of the city. Outside of the Ministry of Education we spent some time Bible reading, and a local man came and joined in with us which was great! We believe this was a really significant day of ministry for this city, and it was a real honour to be a part of it.
So there you go! Sorry for the long blog post, but now you know what I got up to in Ethiopia! It was an amazing time of ministry, in an amazing city, and I had a really great time being a part of it. The journey back to Perth was even longer than our journey out, with a 20 hour layover in Doha. Happily, we were able to get out of the airport for a few hours as the airline offered us a free complimentary tour of the city. If you ever get the chance, I would highly recommend it. It’s a fascinating city with a unique blend of modern development and ancient tradition and civilisation. And yes, a lot of gold 😉