. . . for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:11-13
I’m already looking forward to returning to Ethiopia next year.
When I share this, my listeners always want to know why. They want to know what it was that stood out most about the people of Ethiopia. My response is always immediate and emphatic—it’s their unwavering joy.
This usually catches the questioner by surprise. You see, by western standards, most people in Ethiopia live in extreme poverty. Many are homeless, and those that have homes live in circumstances we can only imagine. In comparison, here in America, we live with wealth beyond belief. Yet we’ve become a people who let our circumstances dictate our outlook. Our joy, or despair, is determined by what we have, or don’t have. We’ve let our riches replace our blessings.
I met countless people on my trip who had suffered extreme persecution for their faith, and yet their joy sustains them. One elderly woman, introduced to us as Mama, put it so well when we visited her small home. “I live like a princess. I am rich beyond measure because I’m finally free to worship my Jesus.”