Dear Gethsemaneans and missions partners (in Singapore, the Philippines, Ethiopia, Malaysia, India, and more),
I greet you all in wonderful name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!
Since Gethsemane Bible Institute commenced in Ethiopia in 2012, I have given much of my time to teach God’s Word. Normally I teach 4-6 courses per term (2 courses in regular day classes, 1 or 2 courses in the evening classes, and also 1 or 2 in the weekend distance-learning classes).
Teaching in GBI caused me to realise my need for further learning. I had not taken some of the important courses for biblical interpretation, such as Hebrew and Greek languages in my undergraduate studies. I had also to learn to defend the truth of His Word in this age of biblical and theological criticism and confusion. By the guidance of the Lord, I joined the Ethiopian Graduate School of Theology (EGST) in May 2015. I registered for the Master of Arts in Biblical and Theological Studies (MABTS) programme, and concentrated on Old Testament studies. By the grace of God, through your prayers and support, I have completed the programme and graduated in July 2018. The topic of my MA thesis is: Cain’s Failure to Maintain Vertical Relationship as the Cause for His Failure in Horizontal Relationship: A Narrative Analysis of Genesis 4:1-16. (You may read a summary of learning points gleaned from my thesis, as attached.)
I am much thankful to God for His grace, provision, and protection as I have been travelling from Alemgena to Sarbet (in the middle of Addis Ababa, where EGST is located). The Lord has preserved my health these three years so that I am able to complete my studies. May the Lord bless you all for standing by me and sharing in this success with me.
Since I began my part-time class at the EGST, I was not able to teach in the evening class because most of my EGST classes were in the evenings. Now I turned to teach the evening class this summer. Currently, I am teaching 5 courses (3 evening courses: on Discipleship, Servant Leadership, and Comparative Religion; and 2 distance-learning courses: on Ten Commandments, and a study of 1 & 2 Kings).
Side by side with teaching in GBI, I am serving in the following areas as well: preaching during the Lord’s Day service (at least once per month respectively in Alemgena and Addis Ababa, as assigned by Rev. Ephrem), teaching children’s Sunday school class in Alemgena, singing in the choir, and evangelism.
It is my pleasure and honour to serve the Lord in His vineyard with you, and share God’s doings in my life with you.
Sincerely in Christ,
Excerpt from my thesis entitled
Cain’s Failure to Maintain Vertical Relationship as the Cause for His Failure in Horizontal Relationship: A Narrative Analysis of Genesis 4:1-16
A. Sad Scenario
Cain’s failure to maintain “brother-to-brother” horizontal relationship was the consequence of his broken vertical relationship with God through his unacceptable offering. Thus, he killed Abel in anger against God and out of jealousy of his brother’s success, denying his responsibility. Sadly, modern scholars’ explanation of shifting the blame on God for rejecting Cain’s unacceptable gift is a gross misrepresentation of God’s just character. God was not the cause for Cain’s crisis; the problem lies in the behaviour of the man himself and in his unacceptable offering.
B. Practical Application for Today’s Ethiopian Christians and Church
1. In Our Relationship with God
As worshippers of the sovereign and just God of Cain and Abel, we should be aware that God regards or disregards offerings that are presented before His altar. We should also be aware that failure to maintain our vertical relationship with God has a direct bearing on our failure to maintain right relationships with others, thereby leading us into tragedy. So, we must obey God in all that He commands us and demands of us. When He does not respond to us the way we expect, we shouldn’t be wrathful against God because He is not unjust in His doings. Rather, we should examine ourselves, admit our failure, and repent. We should also take God’s word of advice or warning seriously because all that He commands us is intended for our good.
When we read about God’s dealings with individuals or groups of people in the Bible, which are difficult to explain, we shouldn’t doubt His just and righteous character. We should humble ourselves and pray to God to help us understand those things.
2. In Our Relationship with Others
Every human being is responsible for his “brother” – the other fellow human being – because we are our brothers’ keepers. Though we are not able to take responsibility for all the whereabouts of other people, we should do what we can for those who are next to us. At the same time, we should know that human life is sacred, for man is created in the image of God. The LORD prohibits murder, so we must never take a human life. We must not use the power that we have in our hand (whether it be authority or physical strength) to hurt others. We should be aware of the fact that the powerless innocent may physically die, but we are the ones who would ultimately suffer because of God’s just judgment! In the New Testament, hatred for a brother is equated with murder (1 John 3:15). A murderer will not inherit eternal life. So we should avoid envy, anger and verbal abuses against a brother because such emotions and actions are fruits of hatred. These attitudes can lead us into the actual physical attack and taking away of life. Positively, we should love our neighbours as ourselves, in fulfilment of our Lord’s commandment (cf. Matthew 22:39).
God’s omniscience is both a warning and an encouragement to us in our relationship with others. Even though we may hide or deny what we did or planned against our brother’s life, God sees every attitude and action of every human being, and thus we cannot escape His judgment. We should always examine our attitudes and actions towards our fellow brother. If we discover that we are doing or planning to do evil, or if our actions are accompanied with arrogance, greed, envy, anger, and hatred against others and their success, we should know that we are going the way of Cain. Therefore, we must quickly turn away in repentance. On the other hand, God’s omniscience is an encouragement to us because He sees what others think or plan against us, and He will protect us from all their secret snares, in accordance with His sovereign will.