Now This is Ethiopia! Trip Report from Dilla, Ethiopia
Church Planting - A professionally organized and geographically strategic ministry
- Kevin Cole
It is clear that Ethiopia is a key player on the African Continent in many ways. Geographically Ethiopia is a crossroads. Politically it is the center of the African Union. Militarily it is a major player in the region. Religiously there are many forces at work pushing and pulling the people in different directions. Muslim influence from the nearby Middle East at odds with the strong Christian influences. The good news is the spreading of the gospel across the continent is being facilitated by a professional, organized, educated and committed church planting mission of the Ethiopian Kale Heywot Church. One cannot help but be impressed at the level of commitment when a church in a third world country is supporting and sending out missionaries to the surrounding region. These missionaries are called church planters. They are well trained, married, committed men and women who suffer hardships and persecution and see miracles we in the western world have a hard time getting our arms around. Besides the 60 or so church planters supported by the local church there are others being supported by people and churches from other countries such as the USA. New Covenant foundation for instance has made a three-year commitment to support church planters. More support is needed. There are about 60 families who are trained and waiting for support so they can be sent. Another 350 are currently going through training. The cost to support a family runs around $150 per month. The money is used for food, housing, medical support, and a small pension fund. My hope and prayer is that Christians who read this will see the importance of this ministry for the spreading of the good news of Jesus Christ to a region of the world that desperately needs the hope that Jesus offers.
February 25, 2011
We went to the Kale Heywot church compound in Dilla and met Werku, a leader of the Christians in the area. As we walked along the building, there was an awful smell that made some of us feel sick at the thought of going inside. We were led to the front where seats were saved for us. There were probably a couple of thousand church leaders gathered for the conference and a large choir sat on the stage. The pastor was talking to the people in Amharic about CHE and the importance of caring for the whole person. The choir sang and the building was filled with the most amazing sounds of praise to God, then all the people sang as they poured to the front to place their offering on a table in the front of the church. All thoughts of my personal discomforts faded as I was drawn into worship of our Savior with our Ethiopian brothers and sisters in Christ. Werku introduced us and we each shared with the people, they love to hear about us and how we serve the same God they serve in our homes on the other side of the world. Werku closed by singing Mike’s favorite Ethiopian praise song. It was beautiful and I could have stayed and praised God with these people for hours. As our traveling partner Zele said, “Now this is Ethiopia.”