Beauty and Baptism!
The ultimate source of abundant life is trusting Jesus for eternal life and following him daily. We’ve partnered with some wonderful Christian leaders in Ethiopia for the last three years. All of them have a passion for helping people pursue a relationship with God. We’ve worked with them for some time designing a strategy to support their efforts to share this message in Arsi Oromo villages across the region with families and individuals, giving them the opportunity to know Christ.
Our hope is that as people come to know see they were made by and for God, their hope for the future grows, and their understanding of what it means to be made in God’s image flows into a life of creativity, justice, beauty, health, and productivity. We desire whole communities begin to live according to God’s design for abundant life. This is a significant factor in how transformation happens and development occurs.
The strategy we’ve agreed to support, with our partners, is one that focuses on training men and women to do the work in their own community, that previously was reserved for formally trained pastors and evangelists. Instead of taking potential leaders outside of their local environment, our training empowers people to lead others to Christ and begin small churches where worship, Bible study, and serving one another takes place. Instead of growing larger, new churches are started. Leaders are coached to conduct these gatherings, and ‘plant’ other groups where families are giving their lives to Jesus.
This strategy allows people to genuinely decide for themselves if following Christ is for them and empowers those who do to become disciples immediately, dissolving the common barriers between leaders and lay persons. In West Arsi, this is working! Last week, AWL board member Joe Rhodes, and Jon Newland, an AWL supporter, were blessed to witness a baptism of 40 young people in the village of Kenchere. What a blessing to see the joy and freedom on the faces of the baptized. The ceremony was accompanied with cheering and singing. As we work towards the long-term goal of communities transformed by the truth, these events are sign-posts that our investment is making a positive impact in the direction we intend.