Friday, April 08, 2005

Interview with Brother Hayden

Recently, I got the opportunity to interview an old friend of mine for the Calm. I used to think of him as a missionary kid from Ethiopia, but he's become much more than that in my eyes, and now you will have to chance to see him, and his Lord, as I do ...

Quick facts about Brother Hayden:
Brother Hayden has a wife and two children, and is an Advanced Master of Divinity from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, and is planning on returning to full-time missions in Ethiopia, early next year.

Brother Hayden's bookmarks ...

Interview with Brother Hayden on Apr 5, 2005:

The Calm: So tell our readers here at the Calm, how can a man start-up and run a small business, while finishing seminary, while starting a new Baptist church, AND expect to enter into full-time foreign missions in a place like Ethiopia? I mean, full-time missions, the language barrier, cultural problems, children matriculating into foreign schools, an intimidated wife ... any ONE of those issues is enough to discourage a devout believer.

Brother Hayden: The Lord's provision is exceedingly abundant. The first thing is that when God calls, there is nothing else that makes sense other than to follow His call.

The Calm: But, how can you do all of that AND keep up with a wife that is such a front runner, among her peers.

Brother Hayden: She is the perfect wife for what the Lord has called me to do, and she herself has grown more and more to feel called into this herself, and so now the calling is our calling to serve God in this way.

The Calm: We probably need to have a whole separate interview with her.

Brother Hayden: Absolutely. She is an amazing woman.

The Calm: Tell us, what is "Sojourn"?

Brother Hayden: Sojourn is a missional community that seeks to glorify God, and to live out life together in a way that constantly helps us to grow in Christ's likeness.

The Calm: I ran across some great notions on the Sojourn Community website ... listed under "core passions" ... I found:

Because all that we are and have has been given to us by God for the sake of serving others in our church, local community and world

Because real relationships are messy.

The Calm: What does Sojourn mean by promoting BOLD LOVE?

Brother Hayden: Bold love is our way of confronting one another regarding sin ... There are two components to bold love ... the first is the most important and that is grace. In confronting anyone, or as we like to call it "care-fronting", grace must be the underlying motivation, and the uniting principle in the relationship, without this there is all kinds of room for Satan to work havoc. The second component is the Word. Both parties must agree to submit themselves to God's Word and what He has to say on the subject.

The Calm: It appears that the Sojourn Community is very concerned about embracing the diverse interests of believers. Any of the community's personal interests, in fact, appear to become entire ministries of Sojourn, but especially ones which do not conflict with your core vision or the Bible. For example, the ministries include everything from Sojourn Outdoors, to aesthetics, to hospitality, to Worship Arts ... What are worship arts?

Brother Hayden: The goal of a worship arts ministry is to empower artists to use their gifts in service to the community, an example would be a painting that causes others to worship God more deeply ... music that is done with excellence, and again pushes others towards Christ ... a specific example was a photographer in our community ... for Good Friday, she took thorns, rose petals, and people's hands, and did a series of photographs that depicted parts of Christ's journey to the cross. She then shared it with her art class, and got to do that during the Easter season, and then the community got to enjoy it during our service as a way of remembering and visually seeing what Christ has done. That was really cool, and stuff like that happens in our community all the time. Or for instance, our bulletins have new artwork each week, not some standard cut and paste picture.

The Calm: Sermon mp3s! ... published on the web ...
Why doesn't my church do this? I mean, we're huge, we have big budgets, but we still sell tapes. Mp3s, right off the web ... that's great. Is that difficult?

Brother Hayden: No. It's actually cheaper and easier than tape machines.

The Calm: Tell our readers, what is the social and religious climate of Ethiopia like today, and how will that impact your ministry?

Brother Hayden: Ethiopia is a highly patriarchal society, it is a deeply religious society, and at the same time very superstitious. The social situation is very similar to that of Europe just on the eve of the reformation. The Orthodox Church is the controlling social and religious force in Ethiopia for the majority of Ethiopians. They celebrate the Mass in a language that has been dead for 500 years, so while the Gospel is inherent in every Church service, it falls on deaf ears. The people are not allowed to read the Word, and only priests get to study it. Much like the Catholic Church was prior to the reformation. Anyone who shows any signs of true belief (e.g. reading your Bible) is often ostracized, beaten, and kicked out of town, and in some cases even martyred.

The Calm: How do you know this stuff? Do you keep in contact with any brethren in Ethiopia on a regular basis?

Brother Hayden: Yes, through visits, and e-mail, etc ... There was one fellow who recently came to Christ and could not put down his Bible. His family caught him reading it ... told him to stop ... the Priest living next door also caught him ... and told the family "Either, kick your son out of the house, or we'll kick your family out of town". They took his Bible, burned it, and kicked him out.

The Calm: When was that?

Brother Hayden: About a year ago.

The Calm: Do you keep in contact with any other brethren in Ethiopia?

Brother Hayden: Yes. Lot's of amazing men and women to talk about here ... One guy, for instance, is illiterate, but has all four Gospels memorized! and goes around ... coming up to folks saying, "Let me tell you a story ..." and then out comes the Gospel of Mark ... amazing ... He just had a guy read it to him over and over, until he got the whole thing ...

The Calm: Can you give an example of a cultural expectation of Ethiopians which you've taught your family about in preparation for living there?

Brother Hayden: Ethiopians pray with their eyes open. To pray with your eyes closed marks you either as a Muslim or a protestant Christian, so we pray with our eyes open ...Ethiopians have a tremendous respect for the elderly, so I teach that as a value far more than other Americans would.

The Calm: Is the Ethiopian Orthodox Church still popular in Ethiopia? Do they really study from the Book of Enoch? Explain your approach to this in ministry.

Brother Hayden: Yes, very popular. To be "Amhara" (one people group in Ethiopia) is to be Orthodox. It's a non-negotiable aspect of the community. Yes, they do study from the book of Enoch, but remember they don't get to study unless they are Priests, but the Book of Enoch is included, along with book of the Miracles of Mary. And, by the way, the Miracles of Mary actually gets spoken in the vernacular, so that the public can here it, so Mary is worshiped far more than Christ.

The Calm: Is the Ark in Axum the original one?

Brother Hayden: I have no idea. The Judaism in Ethiopia is pre-Talmudic, which puts it before Christ, so it is very old. Ethiopians also follow Kosher laws for diet. So the Judaism is just very old in Ethiopia, and also there is evidence that the Queen of Sheba did come and visit Solomon from Ethiopia, so there were contacts between the two ancient cultures, so my answer is "maybe" ... but I doubt it.

The Calm: Will you be participating in any of the popular activities of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church? For example T'imk'et? Why or why not?

Brother Hayden: One thing that we will be doing is fasting on the prescribed days ... Lent, etc ... We will go to all of the festivals, and attend the local Orthodox Church each week. My reason is basically to follow the missional precedent of Paul ... to become a Greek to Greeks, and a Jew to a Jew, so that by all means I might reach some.

The Calm: How did you learn to speak Amharic?

Brother Hayden: I was born in and grew up in Ethiopia.

The Calm: Are you a citizen there?

Brother Hayden: No.

The Calm: So, not only are you heavily involved in foreign missions, but you are a missionary kid, right?

Brother Hayden: Yes. I will be the third generation of missionaries in Africa in my family.

The Calm: Would you discourage folks from going on foreign missions? Folks that do not have that kind of advantage? i.e. pre-exposure to the language and culture.

Brother Hayden: No. Absolutely not. Mission changes your perspective on life, and the vastness of God, and on His passion for the lost. Jesus is about lost people.

The Calm: But, how do you respond to folks who say that you should not go on foreign missions because there are enough folks right here who need the Gospel?

Brother Hayden: I've never had a person go on a foreign mission, who did not come back more passionate about reaching others for Christ, wherever they were. And I don't have the stats in my head right now, but i can get it to you ... the number of Churches per person in the U.S. vs. the rest of the World ... the number of believers in the 10-40 window, etc ...

The Calm, also got Mrs. Hayden's take on this question, quote:
Every person I have seen that goes on a mission trip goes thinking that they are going to change the world, but they return realizing that they themselves have been changed more than the world.

The Calm: Are you part of the Southern Baptist Convention?

Brother Hayden: Yes.

The Calm: What are you personally planning to accomplish before you leave?

Brother Hayden: I strongly feel that every missionary has a responsibility to multiply themselves out of a job, so my goal as a Pastor in Sojourn is to replace myself with several Pastor Elders.

The Calm: How is that going ... found anyone?

Brother Hayden: Yes ... Three so far ... That is, of the twelve that I am currently discipling, there are three who are ready to become Elders.

The Calm: How are your wife and children preparing to live in Ethiopia?

Brother Hayden: My kids love to eat Ethiopian food, so we eat Ethiopian food often. I sing a song to them almost every day in Amharic. We talk about going. I'm taking a trip to work out some details before our whole family moves. We are preparing four years worth of home schooling material. There is a lot to do.

The Calm: Wow. Praise the Lord. Well ... know that our readers back at the Calm will be praying for you and your family. Thank you for the great interview, and may the Lord Bless your journey with Him.


Anonymous said...

I wept through tears of admiration for this man and his family.

Anonymous said...

God bless you friend! as an ethiopians i feel blessed to see dedicated people like this. i have been member of full Gospel (mulu wongel) church most of my life and even this chance for evangelizing is unique because our previous governments never tolerated it. we were persecuted and many perished in state sponsored persecution in ethiopia for many decades. in 1979 one brother prophesied and spoke God's message saying--- "there will soon come a long time of extreme hardship where you will be legally persecuted by your own government. It will be a time of seemingly endless misery and a test for your faith in me. Some believers will break down and lose faith but some will stay strong in faith. At the end, my people will see light as the government changes and a new order arrives. you will then be blessed with the fruits of your prayers and faithfulness."

i think what we are witnessing today is this fruit of the prayer of all born-again ethiopian christians. God bless you all