“Say therefore to the people of Israel, ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment. I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.’”
One of God’s most common patterns of self-revelation throughout Scripture is how he reveals himself through his mighty works. Time and time again God declares “I am the God who . . .”
The team of pastors you sent to Ethiopia enjoyed a very powerful time there. The various ways that my heart was impacted by spending a week with God’s people in Ethiopia are truly too numerous to count. However, as I continue to meditate on my time there, one thing seems to rise above the rest: the manifold ways that God is continually revealing himself to his people there through his mighty works. As we listened to church planters recount stories of God’s miraculous and mighty works, I was struck with how many of them paralleled what God did among the early church in the book of Acts.
In the great hope of encouraging you that God does indeed still move like he did in Acts, I’ll share some with you.
- People being saved by bold preaching in public squares. The Ethiopian evangelists we support arrive in villages with no church, and thus they begin their ministries by proclaiming the good news of Jesus while standing on busy street corners. (See Acts 2:14–36; 4:8–14, 5:20–21, 8:4–8, 14:8–10, 16:13–15, 17:19–32, 19:2–7, 21:40–22:21.)
- Miraculous physical healings that opened the door for gospel proclamation. We heard stories that included complete healings of HIV/AIDS and other unknown, acute, and persisting illnesses. One witch doctor’s skin started to burn after hearing the gospel for the first time and didn’t relent until he gave his life to Jesus! (See all of Acts 3 and 4, especially 3:10 and 4:14. Also Acts 5:16, 8:7, 9:34, and 28:8.)
- Unclean spirits being cast off people. Witchcraft is deeply embedded in the Ethiopian culture, and it’s often found mingled in with institutional religion (Islam, the Coptic church, and Orthodox Christianity). Nearly every planter shared at least one story of seeing people set free from oppression by casting off demonic spirits in the authority of Jesus’ name (see Acts 5:16, 8:7, and 16:18).
- Prayer preceding mighty acts of God. Every church planter we heard from said that upon arriving in a new area, a significant amount of time (often weeks) is spent praying and fasting before beginning ministry, that God might reveal where and how he plans to open doors (see Acts 1:14, 1:24, 2:42, 4:31, 6:6, 9:40, 10:9, 12:5, 13:3, 14:23, 16:25, and 28:8)
- Persecution and opposition preceding mighty acts of God. Every single church planter recounted the persecution they faced while proclaiming the gospel, either from local government authorities or local religious authorities. After enduring this opposition, God always brought incredible fruit through new conversions as well as backsliding Christians returning to the Lord (see all of Acts 4, 5:17–21, 7:54–8:3, all of Acts 12, 13:8–12, 13:44–52, 14:1–4, 16:22–34, 17:5–9).
I could go on. We heard accounts of near supernatural acts of generosity by the nascent church that were reminiscent of Acts 4:32–37. Many of the conversions were about leaders of established religious groups (like Acts 6:7). As we all sat and listened to the incredible stories of these church planters, one thing became absolutely clear: the living God intended to display his radiant glory to each of us through the mighty works he was doing in and through his global church. We now invite you to join us in trusting that very same Spirit who equipped and empowered the early church is still moving and working in the global church this very day!