Phenomenal Growth

Ethiopian believers

Dave Garrard (CAM International Director)

The number of growing churches in the southern area of Ethiopia is phenomenal. One village has a church at either end, with a total of 70 believers. Another village, which is larger, has 130 believers. The Lord has helped them and they have purchased 320 square metres of land for approximately £350 and are now building a church. In another direction, there is a new church plant with 16 new members. This other village has a church building which is too small and needs enlarging because of all the new Christians.

Great reception
Yes, in this area the Gospel is having a great reception and as much as possible is being done to broadcast the Good News. Overseer Degfa, who studied at the Pentecostal Training Centre in Addis, is the main leader here, but he has an excellent team which works with him. All the churches have a team leadership model that they follow. They say that they do not have a problem getting people converted, but they struggle with finding a good leader to feed and disciple the new Christians.

Rural church

Government restrictions
In the past, people from well-established churches would visit areas with new church plants. They would have community preaching and evangelistic crusades, eat together and have great fellowship. However, because of the problems in one area several years ago, when extremist Muslims attacked the churches and killed some Christians, the government has forbidden this sort of gathering. So the churches are no longer permitted to do outside crusades. The most they can do is encourage the new believers individually and have fellowship. They also used to take materials such as poles and thatch to help build simple church shelters, but they have had to stop doing this for the time being.

Local people interested
One of the very first to evangelise in this area was a senior overseer by the name of Mesene. He was full of praise to the Lord as people were still being converted. Even when there was opposition, people came to Christ. He said that when they first came to this area from a neighbouring province, people hated them. But now it was the government, rather than the local people, which appeared to be trying to stop them from doing their evangelistic work. The people’s hearts were generally not opposed to them as they had been at first. This was because they had experienced the power of God at work. As a result, they were listening to the preachers of the Good News. Mesene said that wherever the preachers went, people were interested and listened to them.

Church Planters

Childless woman’s promise
One day, a Muslim woman grabbed Mesene’s arm and said to him, ‘I accepted Christ three years ago, but I am married and was afraid of my husband’s reaction, so I did not tell him. Can you visit me in an unobtrusive way?’ She complained that she was childless, but declared that if she had children, she would tell her husband and others that she was a Christian. The believers are currently praying that she will have children and fulfil
her promise.

Regular deliverance
Mesene told me that people are regularly delivered from evil spirits through prayer. There was a lady with a false pregnancy due to a cancerous growth. She was unable to do any work. She was healed after prayer, when the entire growth came away. Many people who knew about her malady saw this miracle and believed. As a consequence, 16 new believers were going to be baptised.

Praise God, this area now has churches in nearly all the bigger villages.