One of our diverse services in Ethiopia is church building. In the past 25 years of service, we have built several large, medium, and small church buildings.
An example of a church building
In 1995 we visited an old small town in the mountains, then called Asebe Teferi – today the place is called Chiro. In Chiro, Mennonite missionaries from the United States (Eastern Mennonite Mission) founded a congregation in 1960. In 1974 the Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie was overthrown and the communists came to power; from then on, the communities were gradually closed. The missionaries left Ethiopia and the local siblings went underground. At that time there was a very small community of 20 people in Chiro. We saw that they were all eager to use their regained freedom of belief and share the gospel in their city. We visited her again a year later, and to our surprise we saw that the little chapel that the missionaries had built was no longer enough for them. They had a provisional solution to accommodate more people: in front of the windows there was a kind of wooden shelter and tarpaulin, where the worshipers sat who no longer fit in the chapel.
The congregation had many hardships, such as missing evangelists, benches, and more, but we particularly noticed the problem with their church building. Back in Germany, we made communities aware of this need. The Lord heard our siblings’ prayers and a church answered. On our next mission trip we came back to Chiro and experienced a surprise. The city had undergone enormous development. Chiro has one advantage: From here, the most important trade route goes east, which connects the capital Addis Ababa with Dire Dawa and the port city of Djibouti. Many new businesses had been created in Chiro, the new government also built a university and many students came to the city – some found their way to Jesus here. The whole country grew rapidly, as did the population, and the community grew accordingly.
We spoke to the elders of the church; together we made a plan to build new on the property next to the old chapel. We gave them the donation they received for this purpose. The work took five years to complete. But after a year and a half, when the roof structure was standing, services were held here – no problem in Ethiopia!
The church continued to grow: what had started with the tiny group of 20 believers has now grown into a large church, from which two daughter churches and six church plantings as well as small house groups have already emerged. We were also involved in the church building for the daughter church.
We are very grateful to the Lord for the continued growth of the congregations. As a result, there is always a new need for church buildings. Therefore, we would now like to set up a separate branch in our mission for this purpose. We are dependent on your prayer and your gift. Churches in Ethiopia are not just there for worship. Rather, they are houses in which the life of the faithful takes place and where everyone meets. People in mental, physical and spiritual distress come here all day and look for help or simply prayer support, others need a shelter. Elders and evangelists can always be reached here. With a church building it is possible for a congregation to work and help effectively in the place – and we can contribute to this by supporting church buildings.