Driving for Ethiopia’s Future

September 5, 2012

We often discover treasures en route to our desired destination. We’ve found this to be true in our few years working in Ethiopia. While Ethiopia is beginning to pursue their potential as a just and prosperous country, most people fear the unknown and therefore lack the initiative to create a better future.

One of the great privileges we’ve had in Ethiopia is getting to know men and women who are stepping out to write a different story for their family and their community. This is especially exciting when the person isn’t necessarily a leader of an organization or a church. Ephrim Burkitson is that kind of man. Our friends at Water is Life International suggested we use Ephrim’s driving services for a trip to Awassa several years ago and he has helped us a number of times since. He is a remarkable man and a powerful example of applying your faith to work and seeing opportunity and resources where others do not. Here is his story:

My name is Ephrim Burkitson. I am 36 years old. My wife’s name is Yeshiwork Mulugeta. We were married on July 18, 2010. My daughter’s name is Naomi Ephrim (Children in Ethiopia are given their father’s first name as a surname. ) She was born July 1, 2011. I did go to school until grade 10. And I took Bible school courses and I started college (in tour operation, information technology, and salesmanship) but I couldn’t finish because of work. My current business is driving, birth family search for adoptive families, and selling roasted coffee. In the near future, I have a plan to open a guest house. The place I grew up was in Merkato (the biggest market in Africa) and that created a big influence on me. When I was 8 years old I worked as a daily laborer by carrying items door to door, which means I start to make money when I was young.

After I came to Jesus, my church teaches me about Biblical business principles and how to know our talents. I understood that I can be a business man and I decided not to be someone’s employee. When I was beginning my business, there was an American family, Michael and Julie Doane, who blessed me financially and I don’t want to forget what they have done since that is the beginning for me to be here. Many other families have promoted my business but I couldn’t mention their names because they are too many!

I believe in the near future, Ethiopia will be one of the developed countries. I say this because nowadays, the government is initiating the youngsters to create jobs for themselves and support to do their own businesses. If the young people are working for their country, the development will come very soon.

Ephrim embodies the latent potential in the people of Ethiopia. He is trustworthy, and desires his countrymen to experience the blessing he’s found in submitting to Christ and taking hold of his future. One of the most poignant images I have of Ephrim is an interchange he had with a young man Kalo village. The young man approached our van and although slightly inebriated, could still manage to use some English to tell us how poor he was and ask us for some money. Ephrim confronted the him, saying, “Why are you not working? Why can you get drunk, but you can’t work?” With authority and grace, he challenged the young man to not belittle himself by begging. His message was the kind of thing we are trying to communicate in all of our work in Ethiopia, which is, ‘You aren’t destined to be poor. You have potential. You can do better than this with God’s help.’ We are encouraged whenever we spend time with Ephrim and thank God for connecting us.