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Kramers share passion for gospel with Ethiopians

January 2, 2013

Lance and Katie Kramer traveled to Ethiopia earlier this year. 
 Submitted Photo
Submitted Photo
Lance and Katie Kramer traveled to Ethiopia earlier this year.
By Norma Dittman
Earlier this year, Lance and Katie Kramer (son of Leanne and Lyle Kramer) had an opportunity to work in missions in Ethiopia. They were part of a ten-member team who were in the capital city of Ethiopia which is Addis Ababa.

The mission trip was organized through Training Leaders International (TLI). “TLI is an organization that seeks to send pastors, professors and graduate students for the equipping and theological training of church’s and their leaders around the world,” Lance explained. TLI was organized in 2009. During 2012, they sent more than thirty short-term teams into mission fields.

The Kramers’ mission team included their team leader, Jason Meyer, a professor at Bethlehem College and Seminary; Justin Woyak, Josh Koehn and Dan and Emily Weller. Woyak, Koehn and Dan Weller are all classmates with Lance. Also on the team were Benjamin Marx, a student at Trinity Divinity School, Chicago, IL, and Ross and Elizabeth Bebee. Ross is an associate pastor at Centennial Church, Frisco, Texas.

“The main purpose of the mission trip was for the men on the team to instill within pastors and students a greater passion for the glory of Christ and the gospel by teaching classes at Evangelical Theological College (ECT),” Lance Kramer stated. “In order for the college to graduate students in a timely manner, they need to offer intensive courses in the summer which is Ethiopia’s rainy season. ETC often allows short-term teams to teach these classes to give their full-time faculty a break during the summer.”

The trip to Ethiopia proved to the team just how wonderful God’s grace is. “We flew through Heathrow Airport in London where we missed a flight,” Lance explained. “Through odd circumstances, we found out that neither the airline we flew in on or the one we were flying out with were responsible for our missed flights.” Because of this, the team had to attempt to make arrangements to catch a flight that evening to Ethiopia. They were told that it would cost $700.00 per person ($7,000 total) to complete the flight. Because there were no funds available to pay that amount, the team began to pray about their circumstances. Eventually, an airline staff member began making calls and was able to transfer the groups’ tickets to a third airline.

“More than anything, the Ethiopian culture has a rich and warm hospitality. When we walked outside of the airport, we were warmly greeted by Frew who is the principal at the ETC, as well as Messay, who is an employee of the school and a student there, as well,” Kramer shared.

He explained that part of Messay’s job was the upkeep of the school and running errands. This meant that we would often drive the team members from the place where they stayed to the school. “His driving skills were badly needed because the traffic in Addis was terrible! There are no stop signs or stop lights - well, non that are followed, anyway. You need to honk to let someone know that you are passing them so that they don’t turn in front of you and you hit them. We would never have made it without Messay’s help.”

Lance described the capital city of Addis Ababa, as “Not what you would expect when you think of an African city.” He stated, “Addis Ababa is a unique city with an interesting blend of urban and rural. For example, most of the streets were well-paved and full of cars, but then there would be a traffic jam because a herd of goats was being led across the street. There also were many high rise buildings being built, but they often had scaffolding made out of sticks.”

During the mission trip, Lance co-taught two courses about missions with his classmate Dan Weller. “The classes were focused biblical studies of God’s glory and His plan to bless the nations.” Kramer said that the first class was taught to first year students who were attending ETC’s regular program of study. The second class was taught to local area church leaders as part of a preliminary initiative by ETC to start training pastors and church leaders outside of their normal program of study.

“ Many of these men and women spoke limited English so Dan and I were extremely helped by Jason Meyer teaching part of the class period. The Lord moved powerfully in the hearts of many of the students to gain a greater passion for God's glory in missions as well as desiring to see people worship Jesus not only in their immediate area, but also in various cultures and people groups around the world. We were blessed to be a part of something that God was already doing in Ethiopia,” Kramer shared.

The three women in the mission team, Katie, Emily and Elizabeth, were invited to sit in on many of their husband’s classes and had an opportunity to meet many of the students who were in the classes.

“We spent a lot of time at a local orphanage called Hanna’s Orphan House. The children who are living at Hanna’s Orphan Home are sent to private schools so that they receive the best in quality education so that they can become contributing members of society,”Katie Kramer commented. Hanna’s Orphan Home was started seventeen years ago when Hanna assured a dying young mother that she would care for her four year old son. Children who live at Hanna’s Orphan Home are given a quality education, are taught hygiene and basic life skills and are often taught a trade. “It was incredible to see the amount of care these children receive and how joyful they are, even after having so much hurt in their life,” Katie stated.

Each day Emily Weller and Katie gathered a group of children, and through a translator, read them a Bible story. “Most of the children go to church and have learned some Bible stories, but we were able to share some new ones with them and get them thinking more about who God is and what he has done for them through Jesus. Overall, it was an eye-opening experience that I don’t think I’ll ever forget,” Katie said.

When the TLI team members were not at the school, they were staying at a Serving in Mission (SIM) guest house. “It was a wonderful place with running water and showers which is uncommon in Ethiopia. The cooks at the SIM knew how to cook American food! That fact helped to ease the team’s stomachs’ culture shock! They ate many meals of Ethiopian lasagna, which Kramer stated was a bit spicer than normal, and tibs - a meal of pieces of meat and sauce eaten with injera, a sponge pancake-like bread.

At the back side of the guest house was a beautiful garden and sitting area. A main gathering room provided space for the team to debrief from the days’ activities. It was in this room that the team prayed together asking that God would continue to work in the hearts of their students. The team also relaxed in the gathering room by reading books or learning how to play Monopoly Deal.

Often times, the mission team members would walk to the nearby local market to purchase souvenirs and gifts for family. “It was amazing to see the level of poverty that many of the people lived in,” Kramer expressed. “There were many beggars on the streets asking or food as well as people trying to sell random pairs of shoes, purses, ties, even Kleenex’s, and toilet paper! Many children were used by some to beg for money or to sell some of these items. It was heartbreaking to see this kind of despair. There were many stray animals all over the city as well as shepherds bringing their sheep and cows through the city.”

At one pizza place inside of a mall, the group was greeted at the doorway by a stray cat.

Other experiences while in Ethiopia included a weekend trip out to a SIM recreation area that was built next to a crater lake. There, the Kramers were amazed at the beauty of the trees and flowers because of the vibrant colors that they displayed. “While we were there we saw a man catching some fish with a net, rowing across the water on a one-man black tube. Swimming in the water would make one sick because of the bacteria in the water.”

The team hiked to the top of a mountain where Jason Meyer shared the gospel with some children while Messay translated for them.

On the way back to their lodging, the two-way road became a one-way street. “Eventually the cars began to form extra lanes, so that our two-way street had four lanes in it,” Kramer said, describing the traffic congestion. “Only after this did we see the traffic that was meant to be going the other way start driving in a nearby field. Eventually the traffic grew to about 12 lanes and wasn’t moving until the police stepped in to direct traffic. Even Messay mentioned that he had never seen anything like it in Ethiopia.”

Katie and Lance attended Frew’s church and listened to Jason Meyer preach through a translator. “It was interesting to be a part of a service where you don’t understand any of the songs in worship,” Lance stated. “The people were also very expressive in the songs physically and would often ululate, or yell, at a very high pitched sound to express their excitement. The entire mission trip was an experience we will never forget.”

Lance and Katie are residing in Minneapolis. Lance is attending his third year at Bethlehem College and Seminary. He also works part-time for the school coordinating a program that offers non-credit theology courses to anyone in the church and/or community.

Katie is working part-time at Bethlehem Baptist Church as a bookkeeper and part-time as a personal care assistant for teenage triplets with special needs.

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