We arrived in Addis Ababa on Friday 13th November before driving 400km north to Dessie. There we spoke to the Christian believers in Kemesi. This town is 98% Muslim, but we found the group of some fifty believers, mainly under 30 years old, to be in good heart.
The following day James and I both ministered in the united church in Batie, to the north and also 98% Muslim. Its compound is being used by Christian charity ‘Compassion’, which works in several parts of Ethiopia, giving poorer children education, food, clothes and medicine. 214 Muslim boys and girls are enrolled in Batie and about 20 attended the morning worship. Let us pray for a spiritual breakthrough in Batie (and also in Kemesi, where it is hoped that another Compassion project will start soon).
The first PTI conference began in Dessie on Monday morning. Forty men and one woman attended from ten different evangelical denominations. The students had travelled from all directions, some as far as 180km. We were based for the first time on the Full Gospel Church campus in Dessie, which provided better and more spacious accommodation than we had for the previous two years. They gave us a warm reception and the teaching was received very well.
At the end of the conference 32 students were awarded a certificate for attending on three consecutive occasions. It is difficult to say why some students did not come for all three years. We were very encouraged, however, by the spiritual appetite of those present and by their understanding of the word taught.
After the presentation of the certificates and books (each received a copy of the Illustrated Bible Dictionary in Amharic, published by the Bible Society) we made the long but scenic journey back to Addis. There, about 35 church leaders from the city attended a one day conference where we gave three studies from the Gospel of Matthew. On Sunday we both preached at Akaki church in Addis, to about 400 worshippers.
The second conference took place at the Ethiopian Christian Brethren Church compound in Addis. 50 men from twelve different evangelical denominations attended, one of whom had travelled 215km to be there and we were all accommodated in the compound. Once again it was a privilege to share the word of God with those who were so eager for the Scriptures. 28 certificates were awarded and each man was given a copy of the Bible Dictionary.
Although the urban society in Ethiopia is becoming more secular, the Church of Christ continues to grow and the greatest needs are for discipleship and for new leaders to be trained. They are keen to start more conferences in Jima (350km south west of Addis) and Bahir Dar (560km north west of Addis) and have an encouraging vision to train pastors and evangelists from all evangelical denominations. As usual, we feel privileged and humbled to play a small part in what God is doing in this country.