I find myself being pulled closer and closer to Ethiopia.
I want to share the story of finding myself in this place but sometimes I struggle for the words. For those of you who know me, you know I don't do anything without thought, research, and study. I began this process fully committed to building my family through adoption and found so much more. The culture and the heritage of Ethiopia are rich in historical and religious significance.
How could someplace so far away seem so close to my heart?
I've learned a few things as I've followed my heart to this place. Everyday I have a better understanding of the spiritual connection and curious pull.
Where thy treasure is, there will your heart be. This states a universal truth. The heart focuses on what it treasures most. If the treasure is in heaven, heaven will have your heart.- Matthew 6:21
- HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE - Ethiopia is considered the oldest independent country in Africa with the longest recorded history. It is the place where the oldest human skeleton was recovered. Anthropologists established that the skeleton is that of a 20 year old female that lived 3.5 million years ago. Hadar, the site of the discovery is registered by the United Nations Education, Science, and Culture Organization (UNESCO) as a World Heritage. This discovery is very close to Addis Ababa where the orphanages are today. They have now discovered the bones of a man 4.5 million years old in Ethiopia.
- A HOLY PLACE - Ethiopia is considered a holy land. Axum (Aksum) is the ancient capital and relegious center for Orthodox Christians. For some it is seen as the bastian of Christianity surrounded by Muslims and other religions much like what is described in the Bible about Mount Zion. More about Axum.
- A PLACE CALLED ZION - In Axum you will find the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion this place is said to contain the Ark of the Covenant said to contain the testimony of God’s covenant with the Hebrews (Dt.31:26). In Ethiopia Zion refers to Mary, Mount Zion, and is also a name given to the Ark of the Covenant. My son's name was also Zion.
- BIBLICAL SIGNIFICANCE - Ethiopia is mentioned in the KJV Bible about 40 times. From its early mention in Genesis to the marriage of Moses to an Ethiopian woman, the Ethiopian who rescued Jeremiah, and later the relationship between Solomon and the Queen of Sheeba we find the Ethiopians playing a significant role in Biblical history. In the Bible you will find Ethiopia referred to as Cush or Kush as well as Abysinnia. (Here is an old Ethiopian Bible made from goat skin)
- CHRISTIANITY ARRIVES - In Acts 8:27 the Ethiopian eunuch meets Phillip and is converted to Christianity. "Then the angel of the Lord said to Philip, Start out and go south to the road that leads down from Jerusalem to Gaza. So he set out and was on his way when he caught sight of an Ethiopian. This man was a high official of the Kandake (Candace) Queen of Ethiopia in charge of all her treasure." Philip helped the Ethiopian understand a passage of Isaiah. After Phillip's explanation the Ethiopian came to believe in Jesus as the "Son of God".
- ARCHETECHURAL TREASURES - Ethiopia holds 3000 years of historical mysteries. Visitors can experience living historical facts and monuments including the steles of Axum, the temple of Yena, Palace of Queen of Sheba, and the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela. It is said that Lalibela was intended to be a New Jerusalem in response to the capture of Jerusalem by Muslims, and many of its historic buildings take their name and layout from buildings in Jerusalem. More pictures of the rock churches.
- THE GOSPEL IN ART - Christian Ethiopian paints flourished for hundreds of years, in the churches and monasteries of highland Abyssinia. The artwork provides a shows Christianity through the Ethiopian lens. If we were made in His image then it only makes sense that we would reflect ourselves in works of art. The traditional Ethiopian art tells not only their history and stories of Christianity but it also illuminates the gospel of their souls.
A Link to Modern Ethiopian Art
- RELEGIOUS CELEBRATION - Each November Ethiopia celebrates the Festival of Maryam Zion. Orthodox Christians, pilgrim to Axum to celebrate. The Ethiopian Orthodox church open a window on the authentic world of the Old Testament. It's hard to believe that these pictures are from modern times.
- In January they celebrate Timkat the Epiphany to commemorate the baptism of Christ. The night before the celebration begins, priests take the Tabot (symbolizing the Ark of the Covenant) containing the Ten Commandments from each Church.
- A PLACE CALLED HOME - This special place with all of its religious and historical significance is simply the place that my children call home. Somehow I feel that arriving in Ethiopia will be a sort of homecoming for me to. As many Jews claim Israel I now claim Ethiopia as my spiritual homeland.
Finding Ethiopia has added life and meaning to the gospel. Looking into the eyes of the Ethiopian children I see the hope that they have for things they've never seen or can't even imagine. To wake up everyday with nothing but a hope and faith that endures is powerful.