Current Needs in the Ethiopian Church
1. Evangelist salary supplements. The rate of inflation has been horrendous in Ethiopia. Many food items (sugar, flour, oil, etc) have almost doubled in price in less than a year. Probably 85% of the people have farms that subsidize their food needs; however, the Alaba evangelists live in Alaba Town and do not have this supplement for their families. There are about 18 evangelists under the "Mother Church" that serve the Town and also all the rural churches. Most of these evangelists are married, with several children. Their wives do not work outside the home, since living is so difficult; their wives have all they can manage to wash clothes by hand, shop in the market, cook from scratch over a wood fire outside, haul water from a spigot or the town water-distribution center.
In Burji, the evangelists have their small farms which supplement their salaries. However, Burji is at the edge of the famine zone that we've been reading about in the news. In talking with church leader Oshe this past week, he reports that the harvest has been very poor. As a result, these evangelists cannot supplement their meager salary. And also, the people funding their salaries have little they can give, since their crops also failed. I've often thought how similar the Ethiopia church/America church situation is to the Macedonia/Jerusalem church. Remember?... the churches in Asia Minor sent an offering to help the believers who were suffering from famine in Israel.
Most of these evangelists have a salary of 700 Ethiopian Birr/month; a few have 1000 birr/month. This is for the whole family. It supplies the cheapest food only, and it is not uncommon for them to miss meals. Sometimes they do not even get that amount of salary, if the funds need to go to legal fees, or persecution help. For your information, 700 birr is about $41 at the current exchange rate.
This financial strain is bad for them in many ways....poor nutrition, no funds for medical needs, marital strain, children can become bitter about the Lord's church, poor testimony to non-believers, etc.
If God impresses this need upon you, we will forward supplementary funds, prioritizing those with dependent children.
2. Evangelist housing. All of the evangelists in Burji have their own land; however, the evangelists in Alaba do not have inherited farms. The people in Alaba town live in compounds. A wall surrounds a section of land about the size of a subdivision yard. In the middle of this compound is a house. Around the perimeter are several small rooms...one for a community kitchen, one for a community toilet, perhaps one for animals, and several for rental units. As a result, people are living very close together, sharing kitchen and toilet and yard space. When an evangelist rents a space in a compound, he moves in with his family. The others in the compound are usually Muslims. They do not like to share cooking space or toilet space with Christians; they feel contaminated. And the children of the evangelist are quickly subjected to taunting, etc. by the Muslim children. The landlord doesn't like this fighting, and the Muslims threaten to move....so he evicts the evangelist and his family. It is not uncommon for the evangelist to be given literally one day (!) notice to get out! So evangelists that must rent living space usually end up moving their families 3-4 times in a year! This creates more stress and instability for their family.
We have supplied funds to purchase a piece of land, build a house, an open kitchen, a toilet, and 2 rental units (to supplement the evangelist's salary). We have done this for 2 evangelists. There is one remaining evangelist which is in need of permanent housing. This man used to be a business man before he became a full-time evangelist. He has started several churches, and is really gifted in evangelism. He actually purchased land at the outskirts of Town to build, but shortly after he purchased the land, the government confiscated the land and did not reimburse him for it. I think he has 3 small children.
The current price to buy the land and to build house, kitchen, toilet, and 2 rental units is $7,000. If God is leading you to do this service for Him, let us know. What a wonderful Christmas present for our Lord, to care for His servant in this way!
3. Zobechame building. In February, 2011, God appointed us to gather the funds needed for a building for the Zobechame congregation in Alaba. He has provided the need thru His people. There is a remaining need of only $7,000 for this building. We are building as fast as possible, trying to get it completed before the next round of persecution starts. God has protected the building so far....only once have Muslims come to try to intimidate and stop construction. The sooner that we can get it finished and install the loudspeakers, the sooner will be the Gospel witness to the witchdoctor's clients and the hospital visitors.
This week I am sending $15,000 to cover the cost of the roof. After it is finished, only the doors, windows and final interior items remain. It God does not supply the remaining funds by the time the roof is finished, the congregation will begin meeting in the unfinished building. But we hope, for the sake of His testimony, that all the funds are provided and the building can be completed.
Here are a few photos of the work in Ethiopia:
Below: The elders of the Alaba "Mother" Church (with Nigusse)...the responsibility for the work rests on their shoulders.
Some of the Alaba evangelists...
blue plaid shirt on the back row was repeatedly beaten and left for dead (the Muslim leader responsible is now a rural church leader), brown striped shirt was the Beshano evangelist who was beaten a few months back, solid blue shirt in the middle and tan jacket in the front/left are the two evangelists for whom we're built their own homes, back row blue striped shirt is Simeon (the evangelist still in need of a house), green shirt in middle is the replacement of Nigusse as the general coordinator of the evangelists and work.
Burji evangelist Wolde....holding his handicapped newborn daughter...
...with Dave and another evangelist in ministry in the Burji countryside.
Construction of the Zobechame building....with the 2-room school in the background left and the Alaba Hospital in the background right. (The Witchdoctor's operation is "behind" us.)
This is the home of Melesse, one of the evangelists for whom God has allowed us to provide a permanent home.
Melesse and his wife have 3 small boys. His wife has been washing the family's clothes (right foreground).
Rejoicing in His work,
October 10, 2011