by Joy Casey
Ten years ago our Director of Evangelism, Pastor Zerihun, approached us about starting a work among an Ethiopian tribe of about 20,000 people that had no indigenous church and only one Christ-follower. Zerihun had been discipling this man for several years explaining that “A” felt God calling him back to his people to tell them about Jesus. This was highly risky on his part because just six years earlier when it became known that “A” was no longer following the teachings of Muhammad but instead following Jesus, his parents tried to kill him forcing him to flee his village. It is an incredible story how God led a mosque leader from a tribe with no Christian presence into His arms of grace.
…I raise a hallelujah, in the presence of my enemies
For five years “A” shared the gospel with his people, finally commissioning nine former Muslim believers from his tribe to join him as missionaries. The nine were assigned to various villages to share the hopeful news of Jesus Christ with their fellow tribesmen.
It has been hard going. This tribe is entrenched in fundamental Islam and violently opposes Christianity. All of the missionaries have been physically attacked to varying degrees and most have been rejected by their families. They work where it is dangerous to be a Christ-follower.
…I raise a hallelujah, louder than the unbelief
One by one, village by village, a few people have come to accept Jesus’ gift of redemption. Small Christian gatherings in homes dot six tribal villages. Some meet only secretly at night due to the intense scrutiny and persecution while others have more liberty.
But miraculously, because this can only be attributed to God’s mercy and grace, praise emanates, sometimes in a whisper sometimes not, from hearts formerly bound by a religion without eternal assurance and defined by hate.
…I raise a hallelujah, my weapon is a melody
Since 2013, first one missionary then a group of nine missionaries, have been “plowing rocks” in this virgin soil, and now two vibrant churches filled with people exalting God are determined to make Jesus known no matter the cost.
…I raise a hallelujah, I will watch the darkness flee
One traditional church has been built in the farthest reaches of this tribal territory. The two missionaries living and working there exude God’s passionate love for the village people and Jesus is drawing radical Muslims to Himself.
There are now 286 worshippers of Jesus in this village! The Muslim leaders have become acutely aware and concerned with so many people turning to Christianity; they are threatening to build a mosque right next to the church that will effectively deter any Muslim from approaching the church.
…I raise a hallelujah, in the middle of the mystery
Another church has grown in a more urban town, which is amazing considering the potential danger. It is a convenient target for fundamental radicals that are alive and well in this town.
Nevertheless, 170 people meet for study, prayer and worship in a tarp covered shed and 42 children from these families come for Christian education at 7 a.m. on Sunday morning. The two missionaries also conduct literacy classes for 42 community children from 3-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
…I raise a hallelujah, fear you lost your hold on me!
NewLife is honored to be walking alongside these courageous men who risk their lives and have given up their livelihoods to share the Gospel among an unreached people.
How shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? (Romans 10:14-16)
If you would like to support one of these missionaries at $25, $50, $100 or $150 a month, we invite you to contribute as you can so God’s command to “go and make disciples of all the nations” will be fulfilled among this hard-to-reach tribe in the heart of Ethiopia.
I’m gonna sing, in the middle of the storm
Louder and louder, you’re gonna hear my praises roar
Up from the ashes, hope will arise
Death is defeated, the King is alive!*
*Bethel Music Publishing