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Pastoral 2016

REV EPHREM’S MISSION REPORT FROM ETHIOPIA

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To the Rev Dr Prabhudas Koshy and the Session of Gethsemane BPC, Singapore:

O LORD, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy” (Habakkuk 3:2).

Greetings in the blessed Name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!

I praise God for keeping His church, my co-labourers, my family and me in faith and good health to continue His work. The Lord of the harvest has been very gracious in sustaining us and providing the direly-needed resources for the work He has entrusted us. Moreover, I thank God for your labours of love, constant prayer and support for God’s work in Ethiopia whereby the Almighty is fulfilling His purpose in our land.

Spiritually speaking, the Evangelical Churches in Ethiopia are passing through great tides of apostasy, charismatic delusion and moral declension. While we do not expect things to get better in these last days, we are called to hold forth the Word of Life, live blamelessly and shine as Christ’s lights “in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation” (cf. Philippians 2:15-16). Despite some “dropouts” from God’s army in our church, I praise God for upholding us to stand against all these unbiblical tides, and also for all the brethren who stood by us in prayer and selfless giving.

Following is a brief update on God’s work in Ethiopia:

Work at Alemgena

  i.  Church

By God’s enabling grace, Gethsemane has been shining forth the gospel light of Jesus Christ over the town and its environs. In our weekly evangelism work, we usually do a person-to-person evangelism whenever conducive. We also give out tracts (especially “An Appointment to Keep”, translated into Amharic and Oromo). God rewarded our efforts by a few who have professed faith in Christ. As we press on in the days ahead, may God bring in greater harvest.

Besides, Bro Bayera (a graduate of GBI) has begun a mission work in Sebata Awas, Gora Kebele. Some people have shown interest in the Gospel. But due to the recurring uprisings in Oromia region, he could not fully carry out house-to-house evangelism as planned. We are prayerfully doing all we can to get the breakthrough. Once we get a number of converts, he will settle there and continue the work. Please pray for this work.

 ii.  Gethsemane Children’s Ministry

This ministry provides an opportunity for the poor and disadvantaged children in our community to learn to read, write and understand basic arithmetic. This year, 29 children completed their education, which is provided free. Next academic year, we will have 3 classes: Nursery, KG1 and KG2, with about 45 poor children benefiting from this gratis service. 3 of our church members (1 volunteer and 2 paid staff) are serving in this ministry. This ministry has allowed us to give the Good News both to the children and their parents. It is our prayer that God’s special favour be on this work to yield rich spiritual fruits in days to come. May God use the seed sown in their hearts to bring them to salvation.

iii.  GBI, Ethiopia

Thou … be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:1-2).

GBI exists to train and prepare faithful Christian leaders, preachers and teachers for the Church of Jesus Christ. It strives to achieve this by equipping them with sound biblical and theological instruction, training the heart to develop biblical virtues, and providing vital skills needed for effective preaching and teaching of God’s Word and biblical leadership of the church. Thus, GBI is a firm ground which the Lord has given to Gethsemane to disseminate the Reformed and Bible-Presbyterian Faith, to counteract the apostasy in our land, and to prepare faithful, devoted, skilful ministers for the work of the Gospel.

After 4 years of training, 2 have graduated with Diploma in Theology on 29th November 2015. One of the graduates, Pr Dejene Daka, went back to the rural church and is now serving as a pastor in a local church in Wolayta Zone. The other is our church member, currently serving the Lord fulltime in Alemgena. Praise God for His unspeakable gifts. In GBI, Ethiopia, we have 3 programmes:

  1. The Full-time Programme: has 3 terms of study annually, covering 7 courses each term. Dn Imane, Pr Engida and I take the teaching duty. This term, we had 12 trainees in this programme. (3 others withdrew because of family problems, and hopefully, they will be back next year).
  2. The Evening Programme: for those who cannot come for full-time study. This year, we have 6 students in this class, where they take 2 to 3 courses each term. Currently, I am the sole instructor because of Dn Imane’s part-time study at Ethiopian Graduate School of Theology.
  3. The Distance Programme: for those who come from far. They come on alternate Saturdays for a full-day training. Each term, they take 4 courses; Dn Imane and I give 2 courses each. Although 11 trainees began this year, only 7 completed the 3rd quarter while 4 dropped out because of personal problems.

May the Lord bless these efforts for the glory of His Name, the edification of His people and the salvation of sinners. I truly thank God for all the brethren who earnestly pray for and sacrificially give towards this work.

Work at Addis Ababa

Pr Engida is in charge of the work in Addis. He takes all the duties related to the spiritual care of the flock there. Dn Imane and I will go there monthly to help the work on alternate Sundays. We use a rented house for our services and for Pr Engida’s family’s residence. Finding a willing property owner with an affordable rental, has been our problem these past 2 years. The current owner, under pressure from pagan neighbours, had told us to leave as we just completed a 1-year term of leasing this month.

Each move brings its own difficulty. In any case, this time we almost could not get a proprietor who is willing to lease property for church service. After a month of desperate search, we found a property which is leased out on a 6-month term of payment. Though the owner is a member of an evangelical church, he is not willing to let us use it on a 3-month term of payment. This puts us in a most difficult situation. Yet, we have no option but to take it. This shows us that the time ahead is more difficult than we imagine. We need prayers of God’s people, that God may intervene in all our difficulties to sustain the ministry in Addis Ababa – for God alone has the solution to this problem.

Our Encouragement, Challenges and Prayers

  • We praise God for the fellowship of Gethsemane B-P Churches in Singapore and the Philippines, and other like-minded brethren who stood with us thus far in carrying out God’s work.
  • We need more faithful and able workers in GBI and more called ones to come in for training.
  • We need God’s grace and wisdom to watchfully guard against the influx of unbiblical doctrines and practices in these last days.
  • We need God’s providence towards the Gethsemane Children’s Ministry as it is serving the poor children in our community, gratis (and yet, we need to pay the teachers).
  • We need God’s mighty work in the hearts of our members to engage themselves in witnessing to their friends, neighbours and family members, to promote church growth.
  • We need God’s Hand to intervene in the problem of finding an affordable rental for the use of our Addis congregation. The extra 3 months’ payment that we have made for the premises, put us in a situation whereby we will not be able to pay our workers. We can do nothing but cry to the Almighty God to intervene!
  • More than anything, we need God to revive His work in the hearts of the full-time workers, that we may exert ourselves wholly to fulfil our most holy calling! ■

 

 

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