Arba Minch, which literally means 40 springs, was founded in the early 1960s on the edge of Abaya lake, south of the capital Addis Ababa and toward the borders of Uganda and Kenya.
Local churches called on the AE team to organise a mission in the city, which has been heavily impacted by social problems including homelessness, prostitution, young people on the streets and drugs. AE’s focus on church unity, evangelism, social action and training were seen as essential to bring the churches back on track, and focus on building the church through offering true hope in Jesus to their communities.
One of the church leaders Rev Milkias, president of South West Mekane Yesus Church Synod that oversees 726 local congregations spoke of the reasons why AE was approached.
“With my current position as president of the synod, I have travelled to many places and congregations and the testimony I hear about AEE is very affirmative. AEE is church friendly, purpose-driven, focused and effective in its undertakings. It is a trustworthy ministry and we, in this area, partner with it wholeheartedly”, he said.
In preparation for this mission, AE conducted an initial series of exploratory meetings with city church leaders to determine what the level of engagement would be. It was determined that Church leaders were absolutely committed to building their strength and ability to effectively reach out to a young and transient population, heavily influenced by ancestral spirit worship and post-modern relativistic views and prosperity doctrine eroding teachings of the church.
From early in the year, AE team leader Mel Mesfin conducted a series of training workshops to address key issues of church unity, bringing the leaders together to discuss their joint goals of winning their city for Christ. This successfully mobilised the churches together to be able to engage 150 evangelists from 32 church to drive the mission forward in December.
A year 12 student
One of the missionaries involved in the training and mission itself was Meheret, a year 12 student from Kale Hiwot Church in Arba Minch.
A graduate of the AE student discipleship program in 2018, she chose to take the next step to take a leadership role within the mission itself, and became trained as a mission facilitator. During the course of her training she said that that the process was a real ‘eye opener’. “We were sent out to the market place for our induction, and completed a stage of one-to-one evangelism. That has been very insightful and I will share this to other students and youth in my church.”
All church leaders and mission volunteers organized to reach out to the old city of Secha and business area of the new city Sikella during the mission period between Dec 24 and 29th.
Mr. Berhanu Deresse, ex-AE Ethiopia team leader led the proclamation commencement ceremony in the biggest church hall in the city.
Mission volunteers then went out into one-to-one street witnessing through handing-out tracts, visiting schools, daily university mission, repeated proclamation activities for prison inmates and mission week gatherings in the local churches.
Participating churches raised funds to equip 114 children with school materials required for attendance. Parents were so touched by the generosity of AE supporters and the AE Ethiopia team who made this possible during mission. They were open to hearing the gospel of Jesus Christ, and were overwhelmed with joy, with many saying “there is hope to our children”. Our aim is to see children continuing with their education and attending church.
Street children were invited to a participating church for a meal and to receive school materials. Of the multitude invited, seven came and received what our supporters made possible, including a warm and welcoming environment and the opportunity to join a community that will care for them for the future. The good news of Christ’s love was preached to them, and mission facilitators will continue their outreach and follow up.
Following the celebratory closing rally, which also involved discussions with government officials and church leaders on future partnerships, the mission overseeing committee deliberated on preserving the fruit of the mission. It was jointly agreed to continue the strategic partnership of AEE with the local churches for the coming six months.
The AE Mission chair, Rev Tsayas, was incredibly encouraging to all the church leaders involved, saying “We commend AE for its vision and endeavour to raise new generations of God fearing people through its outreach and discipleship programs”, he said.
The preservation strategy will now include integrating the new believers into the various partnering churches; building the capacity of churches for discipleship and nurture through training; and ensuring that new believers are integrated into small Bible study groups.
Through the support of AE donors, we intend to maintain our follow up of new believers and strengthening the discipleship program with literature and visits.
Find out more about African Enterprise and its missions via https://africanenterprise.com.au/missions
Ben Campbell is the CEO Africa Enterprise and Laura Bennett is a contributor for African Enterprise and radio host at Hope 103.2 based in Sydney.