May 31, 2013

We are back at the guesthouse after another wonderful week visiting new church plants. We went first to Dire Dawa which is hot. The church planned a big lunch for 60 people who are HIV/AIDS positive. Among them were 6 babies and children. We washed their hands with wet wipes, sanitizer, and then rubbed them with lotion and prayed over them. Finally they got their nails painted. They were so thankful for everything. Then we visited the church literacy class. After they fed us coffee they had a worship service. They have a rented house with two rooms but they have a canvas covered area in the yard. They brought the benches out and filled the yard with worshipers. The service lasted nearly 3 hours with lots of singing and praying.

Our next stop was Harar. It is an old Arab style city. They baptized nine people in the bathtub on the porch. Patty Hall, who is head of Hope for Eternity, the non-profit supporting the church plants, always interviews the newly baptized believers. After she had interviewed four people a man came to sit down nearby and he was visibly angry. Sultan kept announcing that he should have been baptized today. The pastor stepped in and said that he was in the new believers preparation class but had not completed it yet and he would be baptized later. Alem, the spiritual leader for Addis Kidan, explained about salvation and baptism but Sultan was not satisfied. Then I explained again that faith and not baptism saves and told him of the thief on the cross. He could identify as he had just spent time in jail as a thief. When I finished he got a big grin on his face and jumped up and gave me a big hug. It turned out that he was a Moslem and was only saved a week ago and had just been to one class.

Our final visit was to the city of Jigjiga in the far east of Ethiopia. When we visited last year there was a small group of believers in a city that is almost entirely Moslem. They were meeting in a small tin building that a man and his wife were letting them use. Since then they have doubled the size of the building and have been running about 100 in worship. They turn away about 50 each week as they won't fit in the building. The man and his wife gave them a plot of land that they had bought and they are hoping to build a church before long. They dug a hole in the ground on the new land and lined it with an orange tarp. Two were baptized while we were there.

May 24, 2013

We just got back from our big trip to the south. We visited 5 new church plants and a church with a kindergarten. Heart for Ethiopia paid for the materials to build a 3 room building for the kindergarten and the church members supplied the labor. HFE also provided playground equipment for them. We saw the kids and their teachers and were very encouraged by how the church has grown there.

At each church plant we had a time of worship with the members, a baptism service, the Lord's supper, and a visit with the 2 pastors. There were a variety of baptistries. The prettiest was in a mountain stream with a mossy cliff in the background. One was in the baptistry of another church but the water was off so we had to truck enough jugs of water to it to cover the face of each candidate. A few were made of canvas in a hole or canvas held in place by benches.

The testimonies of the new Christians were precious. So many had lived really rough lives before becoming Christians. But what a change Christ has made in their lives! Two churches have reached out to street boys who have no families or homes. One church has rented a building with some small rooms and the street boys now live in 3 small rooms. All of their lives have changed profoundly. They are so happy to be Christians.

Several churches have teenage soccer teams and a number of the team members were baptized in each place. A couple of churches have literacy classes and we got to hear their testimonies. The most common theme was, Now I can read the Bible.

2012 Annual Report

Development Programs

Objectives: To foster disadvantaged community members' wellbeing through social and economic endeavors.

Pre-primary schools

The purpose of implementing pre-primary schools is first to facilitate growth of churches and their acceptance by the people where they exist. The schools are used as a bridge to link the churches and communities. Second, it is to alleviate challenges of disadvantaged communities. Presently 15 pre-primary schools are found in different parts of rural Ethiopia. Services given in 2012 are:

  1. Teaching materials support (books and teaching aid materials for all of the schools)
  2. Trainings given for 30 teachers
  3. 1055 students(kids) are learning in schools
  4. 107 students went to government schools in September by successfully completing the pre-primary level
  5. One new school began in the middle of 2012
  6. Four schools improved their level or status through construction of new buildings and acquiring playground equipment.

Livelihood programs

This includes Self Help groups and other livelihood programs found in the Hadiya zone and in Harar City. In Harar 75 women organized into a credit and saving association and were recognized as a legal entity by the regional government. The women have saved 10,500 birr within the first ten months after the establishment of their micro finance association.

Child development

The number of child development projects has increased year after year. This year 14 projects (12 with Compassion Ethiopia and two with other sponsors) are working in different parts of the country. The numbers of direct beneficiaries (children) reached 2,500. About 50 project workers are involved in those projects.