by Joy Casey
I left Ethiopia a few weeks ago knowing the upcoming months were going to stretch our staff to the limit. At times I feel like I slink away to my cushy life, leaving the heavy lifting to our Ethiopian staff. And, in fact, that is an accurate summation. If I stuck around I would most certainly be in the way of our capable, dependable staff.
IN-CRED-I-BLE: (adj.) difficult to believe; extraordinary, astonishing, amazing
If asked for a one-word caption to put under the picture of our Director of Evangelism, INCREDIBLE would be my pick.
I have known Zerihun since I started working in Ethiopia in 2007. At that time he was pastoring in a small village preaching in a humble church he built next to his home. Bringing the gospel to his village was fraught with dangerous encounters, but he and his wife, Workye, persevered. Zerihun, a man of small stature, always has had BIG vision. In addition to his home church, he preached God’s Word in surrounding areas, mentoring leaders and planting a number of churches for the Kalihiwot Church where he was ordained. On top of doing the work of an evangelist, pastor and apostle, Zerihun went back to school, earning a Master’s Degree.
In 2011 Watch and Pray (the NGO name we work under in Ethiopia) was strengthened when Zerihun took the reins of our evangelistic thrust. At that time our outreach was to pockets of the largest tribe of unreached people. We now have 29 missionaries bringing the Gospel to three distinct tribes in 23 villages. In 2019, 12,837 M*slims heard the Good News for the first time, 535 of them accepting Jesus as their Savior.
The saying ‘behind every successful man is a strong woman’ holds true in Zerihun’s case. As the ministry has grown, so has Zerihun’s time away from home. He spends an average of 4 out of 7 days traveling to various villages meeting with missionaries, bringing them encouragement and direction. Workye (Work’-ee-ay) valiantly holds down the fort at home, supplementing their income by raising chickens and selling eggs. Their two children are in 3rd and 8th grades.
Zerihun works under the direction of our Country Manager, Abebe. Together, these two men have designed a dynamic evangelism plan to reach M*slim tribes who have never before experienced Christianity. It is tough work encountering many obstacles. But the reason I can confidently label Zerihun incredible is because he relies solely on guidance from above and tackles opportunities only after seeking God’s heart on the matter.
We are building 4 new churches!
The rainy season commences in a few months, so we hope to get the basic structures framed with a roof on before then. The rains then will provide the water necessary to mud the walls. Thank you to our friends here in the U.S. who have donated so these churches can be built!
We are building a training center!
Zerihun has seen the need for deeper training for missionaries as well as the necessity of broadening the skills of leaders who can take on the mantle of Pastor for the churches that are birthed in M*slim villages. His vision for a field bible school* is finally becoming a reality. Construction of a training center for men and women is beginning with school commencing this fall. Thank you to one major donor, Lighthouse Church, and Voice of the Martyrs-Canada who, through their generosity, has made the attainment of Zerihun’s dream possible.
*The field bible school will provide 2 weeks of intense training 4 times a year for 2 years. This allows the students to apply what they learn in their current ministerial work as well as keeping them connected to their families and sustenance farming.