Dear brothers and sisters in the Lord!
I am still in Ethiopia at the moment – I have never been away from home for so long. But the situation in my mission country is very serious and I find it hard to turn my back on the people and fly home. My wife encourages me to do so, and so I am grateful to be able to help here in Ethiopia personally.
I have heard how Germany is suffering from the Corona Virus and how different everything is in this time. But you can also imagine how much harder a country like Ethiopia is affected by this pandemic. It’s not so much about cases of infection, but about the unexpected emergency situation, because many businesses are closed due to contact restrictions, day labourers are becoming unemployed and families suddenly have nothing to live on.
This need does not stop at the community. I would like to pass on to you a letter in extracts which I have just received from Meserete Kristos Church (MKC), our partner church in Ethiopia:
“As in the rest of the world, the Corona Pandemic has affected Ethiopia in many areas. For the congregations it meant the sudden closure of all worship services to protect members and prevent the spread of the virus. The fact that many believers now had to stay at home obviously affected their relationship with the church. One problem for us is that it is not possible to use the internet for video worship services in all regions of the country.
At the same time, the government has also restricted the freedom of movement of citizens, which has affected the work situation. Many of our members can no longer even pay their rent and without help are unable to provide food for their families. This poverty also affects the congregations; the salaries of many of our evangelists cannot be paid at the moment because of the plight of the people and the lack of donations.
Although MKC is facing these challenges, we are trying to continue our ministries, to encourage and strengthen the churches in the different regions. Our current actions include
1) Although by no means all can use modern media, messages, Bible group teaching, teaching texts, audio sermons, and others are provided for the believers.
2. for those who do not have access to the Internet, we are sending encouraging messages by telephone to all regions.
3. church leaders and elders are involved to facilitate and strengthen the help of members among themselves.
4. the number of people in need in Ethiopia is growing inexorably. We organize help for the needy in cooperation with communities and the government.
5. printed devotions are also planned to encourage and reach all members who have no access to modern media or telephone.
Now, however, we as MKC face the problem that our current resources are not up to the increasing crisis situation. Several areas in Ethiopia with needy communities depend on the MKC main office; one of the tasks of the main office is to redistribute donations from financially stronger areas in Ethiopia. In addition, various church planting efforts in remote areas, some among unreached tribes, also emanate from the main office. We are currently unable to pay the evangelists’ salaries for these church plantings.
During this time the Gospel Mission Ethiopia is a great help at our side. On the one hand, the salaries of 460 evangelists in 15 areas are supported by the mission; these evangelists have a secure income. The mission also actively fights against poverty and supports children of needy families as well as old and sick people in the churches. Also important to us today is the series of training courses which the Mission has given to the evangelists and elders of 15 areas. This has strengthened the congregations and prepared them for this time of isolation; likewise, the evangelists can now pass on their knowledge in small groups as long as there is a ban on assembly. We are very grateful for this support through the mission.
We believe that the Lord will continue the work He has begun in us and that He will be with us. We would like to ask the Gospel Mission, which has stood faithfully by us for so long, for support in this time of crisis so that we can carry out our tasks as MKC in the churches, as the Lord has instructed us to do.”
Dear brothers and sisters, you can see how badly the congregations are affected, and an end to the Corona measures is far from being in sight. The congregations have to prepare themselves and we would like to help them. We have the following mission plans, which we need your help to realize:
– Support for 10 evangelist families each in our 15 outreach areas, that is 150 families in total. These are evangelists who are not with us in the project and who currently do not receive a salary.
– Food distribution in heavily affected churches where believers are starving. In six churches I am currently distributing food packages that last for 15 days. The packages cost 15 Euro each, so we are talking about 1 Euro per day for a family.
– But we also want to fight spiritual hunger and are working on tracts for distribution in the churches. Furthermore, audio messages are planned, teaching texts for small Bible groups and more.
A tiny virus is presenting Christians with huge problems today. But we are not alone – the Lord Jesus Christ himself is at our side. But He has also given us the worldwide fellowship of believers who are there for each other. Please let us speak to you and help if you can.
United in Jesus’ love