Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | April 28, 2014

Going Beyond Flexibility

Shire, Ethiopia

In my early years of leading short-term volunteers to serve around the planet I strongly exhorted team members to be flexible. “Plans will change and unexpected stuff will happen along the way,” I told them. “It’s just a matter of when and how often plans will change.” Sometime around seventy trips ago I stopped asking team members to be flexible. Instead, I challenged them to go beyond flexibility by being fluid. Being fluid comes much easier when we keep in mind that God is in control. He is not surprised by any changes in plans and knows exactly what to do and how to lead us.

When the apostle Paul and Silas embarked on the second missionary journey, their intent was to preach the gospel in Bithynia “but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them” (Acts 16:7). Instead, the Lord redirected them to Troas, a city on the extreme western shores of Asia Minor. It was there that Paul had a vision of a Macedonian man appealing to him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us” (Acts 16:9). The rest is history. Paul and Silas embarked for Macedonia and brought the gospel to the West.

Loading Van
Today was one of those be-fluid-kind-of-days for our team. After our morning devotional, we all embarked on our respective assignments. I was part of the group assigned to purchase clothes locally for more than a thousand kids at the Endabaguna Transition Center and two refugee camps. Our shopping excursion took much longer than we expected putting us more than an hour behind our schedule.

Child and Guard
And then, the agency that was to grant us permission to go to the transit center had some kind of internal miscommunication and was unable to give us the necessary clearance. Even though the UNHCR (United Nations High Commission on Refugees) folks want us to go to the center we still have to have permission from the national agency responsible for the work with refugees. Hopefully these two agencies can resolve the problem tomorrow morning.

Old Ethiopian Man
To add even one more challenge, we had a frog-strangling downpour this afternoon — unusual because it’s not the rainy season here. The rain produced a lot of run-off and made some local roads impassable. Thankfully our driver had covered our boxes of clothing with a tarp while we grabbed a quick bite of lunch, otherwise all of the clothing would have been completely soaked by the unexpected downpour. And, had we been distributing clothing at the transition center, the rain would have made it all the more chaotic.

But, on the bright side, we connected with an Eritrean refugee we met at church yesterday. This young man made the perilous journey from his homeland to Ethiopia nine years ago. His mother and brother remained behind. “I have not heard my mother’s sound,” he said in his broken English, “in nine years. I miss her.” He also told me that his pastor in Eritrea was arrested before he left the country and is still imprisoned. Our team pitched in and bought groceries to supplement the modest rations he receives at the displacement camp he has called home for the past nine years.

We had lots of other encounters today with people who live so close to the ragged edge — people who survive on very little. We remain committed to continue moving in the direction of people in need, just as Jesus did. We gathered together this evening for an extended time of prayer, asking God to remove the final obstacle to reaching the kids at the transit center. We trust that He will do so. If not, then like Paul and Silas we believe that He will redirect us in a new and exciting way. Thanks for following our journey and praying for our team and those we have come here to serve.



  1. Hello, faithful brothers and sisters,

    I am currently teaching English at a university in the UAE. I have lived in the Middle East for 10 years. I have some English teaching materials donated to me that I would love to send your way. If you have time, please send me the information that I will need to send it and I will work on boxing it up and sending it your way. Praying for your team.

    • Thanks for your prayers, Penni. I will pass along your message to Rachel, one of our team members who will stay here for another 6 months to coordinate the continuing work with the Eritrean refugee kids. I appreciate your thoughtfulness.

  2. Hi – “ Pastor” of the translators, all over the world! I wish to join in the team, and translate for you, as I’m always doing for you here in the Bangladesh! But cause of two biggest troubles, one I can not come, & second one is I do not know the Ethiopian language…. ha-ha-ha – !!!

    Anyway, I’m following your journey, reading the articles & watching the pictures of the Ethiopians events! So greatest great! Learning & enjoying so much!!

    I wish all the best while you all are serving Him, in the land of “worshiper Ethiopian Eunuch !!”



    • Thanks, Mortuza. You and I have had many good adventures in Bangladesh. Thanks for following our work in Erhiopia.

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