Ethiopia is the oldest country in Africa and possibly the world. It was thought to be a beacon to other African countries during the colonial period because it was the only one to maintain its independence–despite attempts made by the Italians. Ethiopia has the second largest population in Africa, following Nigeria. There are over 80 languages spoken here, the most widely used being Amharic, Oromo, Tigrinya, and Somali. Freedom of religion is new in Ethiopia; while it has been protected by the constitution since 1995, the principle is not always upheld in certain areas.
The church places a high value on evangelism and prayer. Although the country is poor, they dedicate a lot of resources to evangelism–the largest evangelical denomination in (Kale Heywet, an important partner of FFICM) has 1200 evangelists, all fully supported. They are so committed to prayer that they often have prayer retreats where they go up on mountains and pray all day, and do a lot of prayer weekends. They have a deep need for peace as a country, there is a division between the Oromo and Tigre. The Oromo are an enormous language group and do not feel fairly represented in the government.
Currently we are working on training all 1200 of the evangelists from the Kale Heywet denomination. They do not have training in follow-up, their training is more in biblical studies. One evangelist shared “After people became Christians we used to just baptize them and didn’t follow up with them at all!” Several evangelists have said, “Before this training, we would teach new believers many things about theology or books of the Bible, but not how to live life as a Christian. Now we know what to do!”
In the past, we have had to cancel and reschedule trainings many times because of unrest in the country. We are thrilled to report after years of prayer the country is stabilizing! Please pray for continued peace. We also need support to prepare and develop more national trainers who will carry on the work of training the evangelists, as well as students in the universities who are so eager and passionate to learn!