by Joy Casey in Ethiopia
Jason Barta, Jeff Burns and I are traveling this week to see the evangelism work being done by our dedicated indigenous missionaries. We will be visiting many villages and bringing encouragement to the men and their wives serving in hard places. Today we were in the Christian compound of a church built six years ago in a strong M*slim area. God provided a wonderful and very large piece of property where the church sits along with classrooms for 60 school children, a kitchen and latrine. Our main purpose was to discuss building a security wall around the compound. The wooden fence erected six years ago is totally inadequate as was demonstrated a few days ago when a strong wind blew down a large section by the school. We were thankful no children were hurt.
Church planting in areas of extreme fundamentalism comes with risks. Four years ago there was an uprising where mob mentality took control and our compound was threatened with destruction and violence. Our buildings and workers were saved by the townspeople who stood at the gate and begged the marauders to not touch this place that provides education for their children and food for the poor. We are aware that our Christian presence is a target for the more extreme factions of Islam and our worn out fence would not stand against ill intentions.
Expanding God’s Kingdom
For several years our Evangelism Coordinator, Pastor Zerihun, has had a vision for a Field Bible School to train missionaries to carry out the Great Commission. As a whole, the Ethiopian Church has been afraid to venture too far into M*slim territory due to the risks involved. But the field is ripe for harvest and more workers are needed and they need to have solid bible training coupled with practical application. There is a need for a training center where missionaries can receive the necessary teaching, new converts can understand more fully the scriptures, and upcoming leaders from all the new church plants can come to discern how God wants to use them. Our property has plenty of room and is centrally located to the work we are doing throughout the southern part of Ethiopia.
A wall similar to what we want to build
We believe God has given us a green light to begin replacing the wooden fence with a cement security wall. Without this degree of protection we cannot conceive building a training center. Our vision for spreading God’s word among unreached people groups has never been stronger. The dream of building a center to equip men and women to do the work of the ministry will come together in God’s timing, in God’s way and with God’s provision.