Nov. 24, 2019 Another chapter in the forthcoming book. Jan. 2020
(Above photo: L-R Lathan Wood, David Lauka, Kokeb Gedamu, Greg Partipilo, Steve Martin)
When we seriously take the Lord at His word, believing that when He says we are joined together in His body, then those He connects together will become what He intends.
As the Apostle Paul wrote for our instruction, “…we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.” Ephesians 4:15-16, NASU
When we realize that these, the very ones He brings into our lives, are meant to be joined with each other, in order for us to build one another up, strengthen, and encourage, then we won’t be so easily tempted to dismiss each other as simply as we often do. We will instead look on each other as that which the Lord has joined and will give what we have been given between each other, to see His body move and act under His headship.
Our time is Jerusalem gave us the opportunity to meet with my new friend Kokeb Gedamu, the Messianic Jewish Rabbi who had made aliyah from Ethiopia, and now leads Congregation Amud HaEsh (Fire of God). Together with his wife Menalu, they had years ago made the dangerous journey out of Africa after he discovered he was a Jew and followed the leading of the Lord in making aliyah.
David Peterman, a very good friend at Antioch International Church in Fort Mill, South Carolina, first met Kokeb in August of 2018 and told me about this man of God. David’s story shared with several of us in South Carolina told of how that school year the congregation had managed to provide the kids with pencils. When other grade school kids in the area were getting new backpacks filled with paper, pencils, crayons and other needed supplies, these ones only had funds for a few pencils for each child. My heart ached for them.
When I traveled to Israel later that same year in October, Kokeb and I had arranged a time to meet for the first time. The Lord had already prepared the way, and our new friendship was instant.
David and I are part of Christians For Messiah Ministries (Dr. Peter Wyns, Founder) Strength For Israel’s first Friday of each month gathering to celebrate Shabbat at Antioch International Church. For that ministry, the two of us had been “on a mission” to seek those in Israel that CFM and specifically Strength For Israel could support, with an emphasis on providing ongoing funds for orphans, widows, and the poor.
Kokeb and those he shepherds with a father’s heart, in our estimation, met this criterion.
It is sad to say that every nation has those among them who are discriminated against, who get the “bottom of the barrel” leftovers in the matters of social support and education. Israel too can be counted among this list. Along with Messianic Jews, the Ethiopian Jews, black in skin color, live in some of the poorest housing areas, have fewer educational opportunities and thus employment advantages, and have the highest percentage of male prisoners in the land.
With many Ethiopian Jewish families living without a father in the home, Kokeb has long and hard sought to bring provision and a firm spiritual foundation into these family lives, as he and the congregation can lead them.
When I first met this humble, sincere, “you are ones whom the Lord is joining us to” man, he brought me into his small congregation office, spending over an hour sharing his story. I knew I was in the presence of one whom the Lord has lifted, to lift up many more.
He took the time to tell me his coming Shabbat message for the morning meeting the next day in English, for he knew I would not understand his native tongue, Amharic, as he would then speak to the people. And when I accidentally spilled the glass of water he had given me on his desk, he calmly got up, got some paper towels, and helped me as I frantically tried to keep the water from flowing all over his papers. He was so gracious.
I was impressed. The Lord was making another connection in His body, and I was welcoming this joint. Sometimes it may not be so clear at first, but there was no hesitation on my part with this man, knowing it was the Lord’s doing.
So the following year after this, Greg, David, Lathan and I, during our days in the city, had lunch with Kokeb, as my desire was to have them meet this one David Peterman and I felt was one whom our fellowship would support. As Kokeb shared his story with them, the Holy Spirit again reaffirmed His leading as He had done with me a year ago.
As for Love For His People ministry, the $500 in cash I brought with me to give to Kokeb, adding to the monthly $100 we had already begun sending since the beginning of 2019, was only the continuation of more provision coming. I knew we had found those whom He would bring some supply to and use us as a channel.
Love For His People ministry has committed to be among those having supply, with the provision we have been and would be further given. We would walk out His instruction, “…being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.” Ephesians 4:16
Our hope is that others would too.
When you find good ground to plant good seed, a wise farmer does so. Kokeb and Congregation Amud HaEsh are good ground. We have and will continue to plant good seeds.