Two pictures stand out in my mind.
We were in Southern Ethiopia at a place called Dilla – the area where my parents, Alberta and Evelyn Brant, had first taken the Gospel back in 1948. It was also the home of Subsibe, an Ethiopian who had gone with us to India. Subsibe had called a meeting of the leaders of the 450 churches which form his District. These leaders listened to us tell about how God had used Subsibe and the Ethiopians in their powerful ministry in India.
After I finished speaking, someone pulled out an old woven grass mat into the middle of the meeting floor. A passionate appeal was made by one of the elders as he placed an offering of what he could give on the mat. It was only a few dollars in our money…nothing to send a missionary to India. But, following his lead, a handful of others came and put their two centimes on the mat as well – and then a trickle of others. Gradually, dozens, even hundreds of people moved quietly to the aisles and began bringing their gifts to send more missionaries into world missions. I watched in wonder as each brought just a little – but as they kept coming and coming. At that moment, it became clear that even poor nations of the earth can participate if they are given the opportunity. We had not asked for any money. This was their heartfelt response to the work that the Holy Spirit had been doing in their hearts for more than half a century.
The next day was Sunday. Subsibe took us to his village. When we got to the little church, people were already in prayer. I remember thinking that my clean pants would get dirty as we knelt down on the dirt floor. I don’t remember what I preached about that Sunday, but I must have told them about how God had used Subsibe and the team in India. At the end of the service, an old man stood up weeping. He could hardly speak as there was so much emotion in his voice.
He looked up and pointed his finger at me. “Your father,” be began, “brought the gospel to us over 50 years ago. We were in darkness – worshipping idols of trees and stone. He told us about Jesus and we believed in Him. He also told us that if we believed in Jesus we should tell others about Him. We did. We sent our evangelists all throughout our tribes and now there are over 450 churches among us. We have sent missionaries to other parts of Ethiopia, as we should have. But your father also told us that one day we would send our children to the ends of the earth to take the gospel to the other nations of the world. Today that has happened – and I just want to thank God that my eyes have seen this before my days have ended.”
The service was ended and Subsibe asked if we would like to visit his house. He led the way down the muddy path between the banana groves and coffee trees. We rounded a corner and came to a shack with a tin roof. A woman came running out of the house. She was beaming. “Subsibe is my son!” She glistened with the pride of a mother who had the joy of being involved in world missions.
Subsibe led us behind the tin shack and further into the coffee grove. The path led us to a tiny grass hut not more than four meters in circumference. It had one center pole, no windows, not even a door. A reed mat was placed across the entrance. “This is my house,” he said quietly.
We bowed our heads and prayed there. We thanked God for sending Subsibe from this tiny grass hut into India to become a missionary with the most powerful message in the universe. We thanked God for taking him out and bringing him home again. As we stood there for just a moment, I could not help but stand in wonder to think what God had done in taking this wonderful man from such a simple home in Ethiopia to India to serve Him there. I said, “Lord, if you can take Subsibe from here to India, then I will never doubt You again – that You have the power to send people from anywhere to anywhere.”