In the last 18 months, one of the most promising developments in our work with Ethiopian leaders in West Arsi is the number of people believing in Jesus and forming churches. While our team has been involved in Ethiopia for nearly 6 years, it’s only been the last year and a half that we’ve directly supported the evangelistic efforts of our partners. It took a while to find common ground with them on a strategy that empowered local men and women to fully embrace who God intended them to be in Christ, through knowing him and sharing the gospel with others. In many ways, our partners were more familiar with methods we felt placed too much influence and power in our hands 9000 miles away and in offices of Ethiopian church denominations.
In turn, our partners have implemented this new strategy and have seen a tremendous response in their communities. Efforts have been underway by 37 trained leaders to introduce families to Bible stories that demonstrate the uniqueness of Jesus Christ, and to train community members to do the same. This has resulted in over 80 Discovery Bible Studies and more than 450 new believers.
Here’s what one of our partners shared recently:
“Because of training going on this region great change is happening among communities of this region. People are changing spiritually, physically, and psychologically. For example, a man named by Fayisa Tufa is the elder brother and man of peace for the missionary Teshom Tufa. He is living in the Karsa District in the Shunbulo village. He is 57 years old, married, and has 5 Children. Fayisa is a man living with great problem and has many addictions. He used to drink an alcohol, chewing Chat and cigarettes every day. When he [drank] alcohol, [he] has no peace with his family and neighbor. If he get money he uses for his drunkenness. When finished, he sells his land and instead of working he uses the money for his addiction of the alcohol. Because of his alcohol addiction his wife and his five children suffer a lot and children live in another house to get their food. Teshom started Bible study in the Fayisa house and his life is changed by the Gospel of the Jesus Christ. Because of him, eight people is come to Jesus. Now he is very peace full and good example for his family and neighbor. His economic condition also changed and he is feeding his children well.”
Stories like these are common wherever the Gospel is proclaimed. What makes this situation unique is the ‘missionary’ Teshom is not a paid Christian minister. He is a farmer. And not only has he led this family to Jesus, he has trained others like him to do the same. The same report explained these 37 had already trained 53 new leaders to expand this effort. They call them church planters: someone willing to find influential members of the community like Fayisa and begin these Discovery Bible studies with their sphere of influence.
Our goal for every initiative we sponsor is to create a direct and indirect exponential impact. In Teshom and Fayisa’s case, the direct impact is one man rescued from addiction. As well, Teshom has trained 4 new leaders to replicate what he is doing.
Finally, for most Christians, the reason for offering the hope of Christ to those of other faiths and beliefs is taken for granted. We want them to live forever and know God’s love intimately as we do. Beyond this, we believe Spiritual Life is the foundation of community development because it’s where worldviews are formed and sustained. Therefore, establishing wholistic churches is of utmost importance and we’re committed to this cause.