The power of the word for the needs of the community
In the middle of Dire Dawa, an Islamic city in an area dominated by Islam, a three-story bible center stands out of the houses. How did that happen? Why Dire Dawa? What do we have in mind with the Bible Center?
The hardship of the community
It all began with a seemingly impossible idea: we are building a training center where we regularly offer Bible training for the evangelists of our mission. The community in Ethiopia is growing explosively in many areas. Few poorly trained church workers (elders, teachers, evangelists) face an army of young Christians. There are not enough, not enough literature and hardly any Bible schools, seminars or set-up courses for the workers in the Kingdom of God. The consequences of this deficiency are obvious. False doctrines and sects sprout up everywhere in Ethiopia and the Christians who have no firm foundation for teaching often follow the dazzling “revival preachers” who promise them prosperity, health, success and all sorts of “spiritual” spectacle as they follow their teachings. Again and again we hear the concerns that it is not enough only to evangelize and to found churches. It was irresponsible for the newly converted Christians and the young communities to be left on their own. These concerns are more than legitimate. Every day in Ethiopia we experience what happens when young churches are not founded on a solid biblical foundation.
No room for Bible training
To meet this need we began Bible trainings at irregular intervals. The cost of accommodation and food soon exceeded our budget. Having our own building would circumvent the ever-increasing rents and provide a strong foundation from which we could provide training for entire Ethiopia. At that time the idea still seemed like a fairytale: a building that would provide space for about 100 students, a place where the evangelists can relax from their ministry full of privations and build body, mind and soul.
God makes the impossible possible
In 2008 the time was ripe. We were able to acquire land from the Dire Dawa community – the work began. At the beginning the construction site was still a ruin for our German understanding but that was soon to change. Step by step and donation for donation the building took shape. Today a three-story building is rising over Dire Dawas trees. It offers accommodation for 100 students, training and conference rooms, offices, toilets and bathrooms, guest lecture rooms, a large kitchen and a dining area. At the terrace on the roof the students can join for activities, in the courtyard they can wash their clothes. Put briefly: everything is taken care of in this house. God made the impossible possible. Meanwhile there are training sessions throughout the year.
The word of God must be upheld
As already indicated above, we try to deal with the problems of the communities through the Bible Center. We are currently focusing on making the Word of God important to evangelists and childrens missionaries; it should be the only authority for faith and community building. This includes a careful and thorough approach to interpretation. We rely on the power of the Word of God to renew the churches and guard against false doctrines. For the training we ourselves travel to Ethiopia. Shimeles and Roman are responsible for the evangelists and Jutta’s for the childrens missionaries. In addition we invite guest lecturers from Germany to teach topics in Ethiopia which we set sometimes when we notice a particular need or want to counteract a problem.
How should we afford it?
In 2016 the first training sessions could start. Since then we bear the costs by the general donations we receive. Although we have to pay far less for each training session than we did when we had to rent the accommodation there are still high costs. One of the reasons is that we are intensifying the training to fully exploit the potential of the Bible Center. It would be a shame to leave the rooms temporarily unused as the need for training becomes more and more urgent. The travel expenses of the students, the food, the material, the maintenance costs, the salary of the employees, the remuneration of the lecturers – these are all costs for which we still have to pay. The bill is simple. The more money we have for training the more training we can offer. There is definitely a need for training. The church and individual siblings in Ethiopia must be founded on the solid Bible foundation. Please pray that our work in the Bible Center in Dire Dawa contributes to this.
Plans for 2018
1. Training for all evangelists and elders
- To equip the shepherds (evangelists) to feed their sheep (parishioners) according to Jesus’ will.
- Fighting false teachings. Reasons are: extremely charismatic movements: becoming spirit, prosperity, Prophecy, media preaching.
We have already trained all evangelists with elders at the areas of West and East Hararge. The Nazareth area will follow in May and the Jimma area in June. Awash Metehara area is scheduled to open in July while in August we will continue the training of the Kindermissionare for the Meta Robi area. In September the evangelist training will continue for the Arsi Bale area followed in October by the Ilubabor area. By this training schedule most areas will attend for training during the year. The remaining areas will be trained in the first months of next year and the training will be completed.
The training of the elders will be provided by the MKC and we only provide the Bible Center and everything that needs to be taken care of. It is important that the elders get a training to lead their churches according to biblical standards.
MKC College has two classrooms in our Bible Center so that they can provice 1 to 3 years of evening and weekend Bible School in Dire Dawa for their area. They have already started with a class of 30 students. Our evangelists from this area can also get a training there. The Bible Center is really used frequently.
Plan for 2019
For the year 2019 we are preparing exams for our evangelists who have already been able to attend classes. As a result they deal with what they learned and take to heart their findings. They will be attending further training this year. Roman will also give the evangelists a training. The year 2019 will also be used intensively. We are preparing to teach our Bible School for distance learning in 2020. Since the Bible School for distance learning is a very complex project and since we have to set the lesson for laymen we have extended the start date for the distance learning course to 2020. We also ask for your prayer.
Plan for 2020
The training described above is also the basis for our next plan. We would like to offer all evangelists we support a distance learning course. This allows everyone to study continuously for several years and is even in the remote areas performable. It is also possible to include capable church members here so that more members can be equipped for the church. Roman will lead the distance learning course. For the year 2020 we are preparing a basic course in the next months covering important subject areas:
- Shimeles in collaboration with the Ethiopian evangelist Wendwessen: Gods saving activity – salvation history on the basis of the book “What will become of this world?” By Joachim Langhammer. (2,000 are printed in Oromigna.)
- Georgij: Salvific Action of the Body of Jesus – The History of the Church
- Roman: Salvific Action of Jesus Christ – The Gospel
- Jutta: Hermeneutics
In addition a major problem in rural areas is the poor education of the church members. This hinders them from reading the Bible for themselves which is hard to imagine for us here in Germany. In 2020 we are planning a literacy program for communities affected and new planted churches. The lessons should take place in the communities and be carried out by faithful school teachers from their village. Our evangelists will also help during the courses.
Plan for 2021
At the start of 2021 we are planning to build our own Bible School at our Bible Center. The distance learning course is already a good preparation for this step as we learn from the cooperation with the MKC College which currently teaches at our center. With this Bible School we can provide an extensive training for our evangelists.
Plan for 2022
With the participation of German Bible Schools we would like to expand our Bible School in Ethiopia.
In all these years we will improve our preparation courses and further strengthen our evangelists. That’s why we are building this center. At the same time we also want to expand our areas of application so that we can start working in new areas. The plan is not only big, but also is our mission. It is a huge step for us, but the prospect of biblically establishing and shaping Biblical communities in Ethiopia motivates us and drives us forward. Please pray!