restoring our biblical and constitutional foundations


O, Ethiopia!

 David Alan Black 

Sometimes I shudder to think how many thousands of miles this old carcass of mine has been carted about the world for various reasons. Yet reflecting on my eight and a half weeks in Ethiopia I want to jump and shout aloud in gratitude to God at having been allowed to live in this fallen world, sharing with its creatures the gift of life:

  • To see my home and family again – a nest snuggly perched in the forests of Virginia, and all its creatures that make it such an infinitely beautiful place to live.
  • To recall the lasting and satisfying joy one knows when he has spent his energies in a worthy cause and has escaped, if only temporarily, the dark dungeon of the ego.
  • To be endlessly preoccupied again with thoughts of students and lectures and courses and exams and term papers and preaching and farm work.
  • To marvel at the almost mystical importance one attaches to community, church, and family.
  • To realize that no one truly believes in the supreme value of the gospel if he sacrifices neither time nor money for it.
  • And, above all, to remember my precious Ethiopian friends, alive with the freshness and power of the Spirit.

O, Ethiopia – full of fathomless mystery!

  • The beggars, whining and cringing, holding up their deformities for inspection.
  • The merchants, hundreds of them on every corner, lost in their commodities.
  • The totally unsuitable and farcically inefficient Western-style system of education (O, the pride of hood and gown!).
  • The unforgettable smell of spices, dung, and a thousand smoking fires; the shouts of the taxi drivers; the little shops catering to every need, real or imagined; the stares of the curious; the shabby, Soviet-style apartments.

Ethiopia – always busy, always breathless, always smiling. Ethiopia the chrysalis – will the butterfly ever emerge?

My readers will perhaps forgive me if for the next few weeks I am preoccupied with trying to describe an indescribable journey to the land of burnt faces (such is the meaning of the Greek word “Ethiopia”). Not that America – yes, my America, whose only truth is slogans, whose only duty is conformity, whose only morality is power – will escape our pen completely; our cultural and spiritual emptiness is too evident for that. The world system is a sham – whether we are talking about the indulgent West or the impoverished East – and I refuse to give it my heart any longer. I am on my way to a Palace; and I desire to take as many souls with me as possible.

In 1948 Charles Sheldon published a little novel called In His Steps. It was the story of an American town named Raymond that was transformed by the application of a simple question to every issue, however complex. The question was, “What would Jesus do?” The message spread throughout the town, and a new ethos of piety and morality replaced the self-centered style of the old Raymond. The book ends with a dream of what happened in Raymond going on to transform America and the world.

During those glorious, exasperating, bone-tiring days in Ethiopia the Lord Jesus kept impressing this truth upon me. I found myself asking over and over again, in every situation, good or bad, happy or sad, “What would Jesus do – or say – or think?” Life for me has boiled down to that one simple question. “How do other people look through Christ-inspired eyes?”

As a pilgrim and stranger in this fallen world, I long for the day when every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Until that day He has commissioned us with the task of proclaiming Him to the world as Lord and Savior. For some of us that involves going across the globe. For others it means going across the street. The “where” matters not.

God bless each and every one of you, and thank you praying for me during my absence.

July 30, 2005

David Alan Black is the editor of If you would like to know more about becoming a follower of King Jesus, please feel free to write Dave.

Back to daveblackonline