Why Ethiopia?

Ethiopia...it's one of the most paradoxical and fascinating places in the world.  The diversity of its terrain is striking - mountains in the North, grasslands in the West, deserts in the East, lakes in the South.  Swaths of primitive villages are punctuated by occasional bustling towns and a few large cities.

Even in the cities (like Addis Ababa, the capital, and Hawassa, our target city), the clash of old and new is apparent as livestock weave in and out between cars and trucks and donkey carts on the freeway.  Internet cafes, tin-roofed huts, multi-level shopping malls, and old-fashioned butcher shops coexist in awkward harmony as Ethiopia experiences a simultaneous influx of Western culture and the steady continuation of her heritage.

Ethiopia's 80 million inhabitants make it the 3rd most populated nation in Africa.  It is also one of the poorest in the world(201st out of 208), with an average per capita income of $710 per year.  Eighty percent of the population works in agriculture, mostly subsistence farming.

Amharic is the official language of Ethiopia, and is spoken nowhere else.  Despite the fact that this nation is only twice the size of Texas, there are  also 83 tribal languages and 200 dialects spoken.  Tribal affiliations, though often strong, do not seem to affect the almost universal feeling of realistic yet hopeful national patriotism.  The vast majority of Ethiopians are proud to be Ethiopian.

The majority of Ethiopians (44%) are affiliated with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, and a quickly growing minority (34%) are Muslim.  Some of those in rural villages (3%) continue to practice animism (spirit-worship).  The common denominator in all three of these faith traditions is an emphasis on good works in order to gain favor with God(s).  Evangelical Christians (19%), offer a radical alternative to these systems of earning salvation: the Gospel of grace.  As a result, their numbers are growing in the midst of persecution.  

Persecution of evangelical Christians is not officially sanctioned by the government, yet they have experienced persecution at an individual level at the hands of both Muslims, Orthodox, and animists.  The intensity of persecution varies widely depending on the region.  For example, there is almost no persecution in Addis Ababa or Awassa, but in other areas it is common for evangelical church services to be broken up by mobs, for Christians to be wounded or killed, for Christian converts from other religions to be kicked out of their homes by their families, and for Christian homes and churches to be bombed.  

Christians pastors, evangelists, and ministry workers in Ethiopia are from very diverse backgrounds.  Some were saved out lives of crime and drug abuse; some have a long heritage including Christian martyrs during the Communist regime.  Some are converts from Islam, some from Orthodoxy, some from animism.  Some started in the pastorate at an early age; some came to it late in life.  Despite their differences, however, all of these people have some things in common.  They have what could be called unshakable faith, developed by years of trusting God for their daily needs and for the future in the midst of hardship.  They are committed: no sacrifice seems too great to make for the sake of their Savior who has given so much for them.  They are passionate:  their eyes light up when they talk about their visions for the future, of how they want to bring the Kingdom of God to bear in their country and the world!  They are eager:  they want to be trained and equipped in any way they can so as to be better ministers of the Gospel.    

Do you want to influence thousands - millions - for Christ?  These men and women are your link to them.    

"You can do what they can't do.

      They can do what you can't do.

            Together, you can do something beautiful for God." 

                               ~Mother Theresa  

Here at GFE, we have been so encouraged to see partnerships being formed for God's glory! 

Would you consider joining us?