Dessie is one of the darkest places in Ethiopia. Nearly devoid of the light of the Gospel of Christ, Dessie is a difficult place to spread the Gospel. Throughout 2017 our team worked with local churches in Dessie to train, mobilise and engage the church in reaching out to their lost city.
On December 20th the mission began on the wings of prayer from around the globe and at the end of mission week, the mission teams had shared the Gospel with 6,720 people and 650 of those accepted Christ!
A passion was ignited in the hearts of local believers that will burn for years to come. They have been equipped with the tools to evangelise effectively and it is a lesson that they will continue to use to reach their community.
Rev Wagnew, a local pastor, was one of the key church leaders who supported the mission and encouraged others to take part. “AE has become true partners with the church in Dessie. They came to us as co-workers in the Gospel, not as bosses. They did not dictate to us but facilitated us in ministering effectively. Because of their kindness and mindfulness even churches with great differences across the city were willing to work together for this mission.”
The mission made huge impact in many lives but none more than Nuru who have NEVER heard the name of Jesus before.
Good News for the first time
Nuru Hussein was living on the streets when he was approached by members of the Dessie Mission Team.
“After the death of my parents many years ago,” Nuru said, “I ended up living on the streets and became totally hopeless. One day some people came and told me about Jesus Christ. I am 25 years old and I have NEVER heard of Jesus before. They told me that He loves me and will take me to heaven. That was a new concept for me because as a Muslim I believed that my good deeds would get me to paradise.
I accepted Jesus there and then and the group took me to a church, washed me, fed me and clothed me. They showed me love and they listened to me. I look different now, but I feel like a totally new person. Even though I’ve only been a believer for a few days, I know that I am a new creation. I have peace in my heart that I’ve never felt before and I know that I am on the right track and that Jesus is the only way to heaven.
After I accepted Christ, I went to my relatives that I hadn’t seen in a very long time to tell them about Jesus and the new life I have. They resisted but I will continue to go and tell them. I want them to know Jesus like I do.”
In its 15 year history, the AE Ethiopia Student Discipleship Programme (SDP) has seen more than 200,000 students pass through its life changing classrooms. It has been instrumental in changing the spiritual life of children and youth. SDP is Bible centred, youth focussed, age graded, syllabus based, and church partnered. AE Team Leader Mel Mesfin gives this summary:
- Aim: Spiritual formation of the next generation
- Goal: Building a strong and healthy church.
- Focus: Christian students of Grade 5 and upwards
Here are just two of the thousands of lives touched by this Gospel project.
Binyam joined the SDP in 2009 and attended for two consecutive years before going to college. After finishing his studies he joined his church as youth ministry coordinator. These are his reflections:
“The two rounds of discipleship program were like climbing into a new height in life. The courses helped me understand the basics of Christian faith. They have impacted me positively so much so that I have been drawn to church ministry in serving the youth.
After I finished college I wanted to reconnect with AE and start a discipleship programme in my local church. I have been coordinating the program over last three years. In each round we enrolled more than 160 students!
AE is filling the teaching gap that the church has not been able to give enough attention. I have seen Christ at work in this ministry. I am deeply impacted and want to pursue youth discipleship for my whole life.
Fruit bearing trees take a long time to germinate, grow and bear fruit. This AE programme is the same. It may take some time before much fruit is seen – but be assured that it will definitely bear much fruit as it has done in my own life. So, take heart and pursue discipling the next generation in the Way of Christ. May God bless AE.”
Zekarias is one of “the first fruits’ of the students discipleship programme (SDP). He is from Ambo city, 120 km west of Addis.
“When I was in Grade 8, I attended the SDP (some 10 years ago). I am now doing masters degree in university.
I found the lessons such as ‘How to study the Bible’ and ‘Evangelism’ to be very instructive. As a result of attending the SDP, I am now involved in church mission work and regularly travel to various places for evangelistic outreach. In addition, I taught two SDP courses in my church this summer of 2016.
I am grateful to God for such an eye-opening and nurturing programme. I would also like to thank AE for the amazing impact it is making on the future generations. I would like to work with AE to expand the program to many cities in my area.”