Tools of Jesus Christ - the servants in Ethiopia
God uses people to win people. Our goal is to help the evangelists so they can serve Jesus and win people over to him.
Sow the word!
Through the proclamation of the Word, people come to faith. We want to reach the cities, and above all the poor villages of Ethiopia, with the Gospel. We use local evangelists for that. The advantage is that the evangelists know the languages of the respective areas in their country. They are familiar with the cultures and mindsets of different peoples, and thus are a native to the natives, much as Paul did (1 Cor.9: 20,22). We work locally with the Meserete Kristos Church (MKC), which is one of the evangelical churches in Ethiopia. This was founded by the missionary work of American Mennonites more than 60 years ago.
Our work is spread over nine areas of Ethiopia. We work mainly in the Islamic parts of Ethiopia. In each area there is an area leader who looks after the evangelists, visits them and supports them with advice and action. Most of our evangelists work in the church planting ministry.
The areas of application could not be more different. In some places our siblings suffer persecution for their commitment to Christ, in other areas we experience tremendous revivals. On both sides we see both pleasurable and difficult. Persecutions are terrible, but also offer the opportunity for Christians to prove their faith (James 1). The revivals are pleasing and motivating, but faith often remains superficial. Another important project is the children's mission, which was never in focus in Ethiopia. We try to educate children missionaries so that the next generation can learn from Jesus early on and be encouraged Ps. 78: 3-4:
"What we have heard and learned, and what our fathers have told us, that we will not withhold from their children, but tell the glory of the LORD to the later generation, his power and his wonders which he has done".
Other evangelists work in prison work. They build smaller communities within the prisons, which are often the only detention of the prisoners.
Behind our evangelists are praying and helping godparents, mostly from German churches. Moreover, in Ethiopia, even in various places, we have so-called Moses Prayer Groups praying for our ministry, for the evangelists, and for our German missionary friends. The name of these groups springs from the history of the war between Israel and Amalek. Moses raised his hands on the hill while Joshua was fighting in the valley (2Mo.17). If Moses raised his hands with the help of Aaron and Hur, Israel gained the upper hand. So also in the spiritual battle, which is not to be denied with flesh and blood (Eph.6), we too should pray for the evangelists on the front line.
Structure and operation
The evangelist project is geographically so extensive that it must not be lacking in effective structure. We therefore work through an Ethiopian office in Addis Ababa. Here, finances are managed and reports collected. Here is the first port of call for the evangelists when there are problems. Our zealous brother Addisu runs this office and looks after our evangelists. He is involved in the training so that the evangelists in teaching grow and be strengthened. Every Christian should study the Word of God in order to stand firm in faith and to distinguish good from evil (Hebrews 5: 13-14) - then how much more are brothers who will be responsible for the doctrine of whole churches.
That's why we started to build a bible center in Dire Dawa since 2008 and finished in August 2016 thanks to God's help. This bible center will be used for the training. [Nbsp] Here our evangelists can strengthen themselves spiritually and also enjoy the sibling community for a few weeks during the training time. The nice thing is that they can also recover physically. We thank God for building this house for his honor. If you would like to know more, read our report on the Bible Center.
The next level is the offices in the areas. This is usually found in the main community of applications. This is where the area leaders are assigned, who through advice and action assist the scattered evangelists. Many of these area leaders used to be evangelists themselves and therefore bring with them a wealth of experience. For the evangelists, it is important to have a local contact person. It also keeps us in touch with our evangelists. The area leaders pass on what they have learned to the evangelists. This is to counteract the dissemination of false biblical views and to make the evangelists themselves firm and strong in the faith. Through their dedication, they can use the gospel to reach even the remotest places in Ethiopia, in the language spoken by the people there.
The prosperity that God gives
What does community construction look like in the villages of Ethiopia? What is the strategy of our evangelists and how do they live in their places of work? At this point we would like to show an insight into the everyday life and service of two locations.
The dangerous work among animist peoples
Hadikas is a remote village in southwestern Ethiopia, populated by two tribes, the Surma and the Dize. The Dizies are open to the gospel, so we could start a small community of about 210 members. The Surma are deeply rooted in animism, that is, they worship nature deities and spirits.
For the Surma evangelization is humanly impossible. They are enormously aggressive and depend on their animistic traditions. Because they were taking the gospel, the dikers were despised by the Surma. When droughts come into the country or the hunt is unsuccessful, the dizards are blamed for annoying their gods for their devotion to Jesus. The hatred of the Dize went so far that the Surma massacred the defenseless Dize in their anger. Even the government could not ignore this genocide. She had to step in to put an end to this madness. Our evangelist Akutsoni lives in constant danger. Despite this life-threatening situation, the church in Dize is constantly growing and for that Jesus' thanks.
Mission despite persecution and bitter poverty
Ketar Genet is a village in southern Ethiopia that is located in the province of Arsi. From this area come the Ethiopian marathon runners. Orthodox Amhara and Muslim Oromo live in Ketar Genet. 21% of the population are animistic. Tasew, our evangelist, serves with the gospel. The trouble with Ketar Genet is that there is virtually no religious freedom. If someone chooses Jesus, he loses his job and can no longer work as a farmer. Even persecutions on the Muslim side are omnipresent. Despite all the barriers, a small community developed here that remains steadfast. One of the biggest obstacles is the poverty of the community. If new converts lose their jobs and are no longer recruited for professing Christ, they are financially ruined. That's why we've started a small sponsorship group for the poorest families in the community that can provide them with financial support. We hope that the Lord gives a great revival so that many come to faith and the situation improves for the Christians.
Bringing the Gospel to children is a whole new thought in Ethiopia. Through revivals, most churches are deeply committed to proclaiming the gospel to non-Christians. That's why the children are often forgotten. The consequences are predictable. Over the years, this neglect of an unbelieving youth becomes visible. The increasing modern zeitgeist tempting young people; that scares many parents. That's why we started several years ago to train children's missionaries who work for child labor in the community and beyond.
The children's missionaries have a responsibility in their community. They look after the children from an early age. Children's missionaries are now active in many places, and we see God giving the success and a spiritually growing youth that wants to follow Jesus. The children enthusiastically come to the children's lessons, they are changed by the word and shaped for their lives. We experience conversions of older children in all places. Many who go to youth are baptized, and many serve and help actively in the church. A good testimony of faith!
Although the prison mission is only a small part of our missionary work, it is a particularly important one. In prison, inmates have time to think about their lives. Especially in the worst situations of life a person is really made aware that one needs God. And this is exactly where our evangelists want to be light in the dark. It is here that we see many inmates want to listen to this gospel, which speaks of a crucified Messiah who brings salvation and true freedom. It is here that God's glory is revealed, that God does not like the fact that the sinner dies but his life consecrates to God (Ezek. 18:23).
This part of the missionary work has special challenges. One of these challenges is working with the prison administration. It is rare to find devout Christians who promote this work. Questions that you ask are: What will the prison authorities tolerate? Services or personal pastoral care? How much time does an evangelist get in the asylum? Other challenges include the inmates, who are often Muslim. What happens if we work among them and one of them is converted? What will the others do then? Especially in prison, the violence is highest. The Bible tells us that through many afflictions we must enter into the kingdom of God, Acts 14:22. We in Europe are mostly unaware of our beliefs. Therefore, it is difficult to understand what the converted prisoners have to go through there. Let us stand in prayer for them, especially in situations where they preserve God and that they, too, keep faith. If we love our life, we will lose it. But if we are ready to give our lives for Jesus, we will win the true life (John 12:25)!