Ethiopian Lutheran church rises stronger after persecution

February 17, 2011

Dr. Neitzel with EEMYC pastors

by Rev. Leonardo Neitzel

 

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia – The second day of the Ethiopian Evangelical Mekane Yesus Church (EEMYC) Theological and Missions Conference saw around 3.000 pastors and other church leaders gathered for education, inspiration and fellowship. It was a day packed with music, preaching and essays focusing on different areas under the major theme of mission.

Some statistics presented about the EEMYC filled our hearts with joy and gratitude for the boldness of our Lutheran brothers and sisters in regards to the expansion of the Lord’s kingdom in Ethiopia and beyond. We learned there are:

  • 7.000 congregations (The goal and plan is to reach 10.000 shortly.)
  • 3.000 preaching or mission stations
  • 5.6 Million members
  • 21 synods (which we call districts)
  • 34 Bible colleges
  • 5 seminaries

Following the fall of Ethiopia’s communist regime in 1991, Lutheranism grew quickly. Here are some of the factors related to that growth:

  1. Strong investment in Bible schools and Bible institutes;
  2. Production and distribution of Christian literature;
  3. National outreach plan for planting churches;
  4. Comprehensive and holistic ministry – ministering to the whole person, body soul and mind;
  5. Impact of the church’s persecution under the Communist regime. This fact revitalized the house churches, family prayer and Bible studies. In a certain way the Ethiopian Lutherans thank the Italian and communist regimes which banned missionaries from the country. When these missionaries were allowed to come back, the “underground church” was stronger and revitalized. As early Christian writer Tertullian says, “The blood of martyrs is the seed of the church.”
  6. Laity training and delegation for mission;
  7. Rediscovery of the power of the Holy Spirit in providing for the person in all aspects of life – spiritual and physical. People who had received a prayer during a difficult physical illness, a tragedy, or at a death-bed committed themselves completely to the witness of their faith in Jesus Christ. The church has a strong social ministry with a budget of about 3.1 billion birr (their currency) or about US$18.3 million.

 Theirs is this strong slogan and confession: “If the Lord is with us, who can be against us?”

 Rev. Dr. Leonardo Neitzel is Lutheran Church–Canada’s mission executive

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Ethiopian Lutherans are bold in their Christian faith

February 16, 2011

More than 2500 pastors and church leaders are participating in the conference

by Rev. Leonardo Neitzel

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia – The first day of the Ethiopian Evangelical Mekane Yesus Church’s (EEMYC) Theological Conference was attended by easily more than 2,500 pastors, including Lutheran delegations from North America, Europe and African countries. This conference is the first of its kind in the EEMYC and is focusing on areas such as the biblical foundations for church, ministry and mission and practical aspects of mission.

The Lutherans in Ethiopia are vibrant in their worship, fellowship and interaction with all people, regardless of country, language and cultural background. The are also committed and bold in their stand on the Holy Scripture and on the Lutheran teaching and confession. We see they are deeply disturbed and challenged by the decisions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) on homosexuality. During the conference they reaffirmed, by repeating several times in the audience, the Solas or Alones of the Lutheran Church’s theology – Christ Alone, Scripture Alone, Grace Alone and Faith Alone.

The Lutheran Church in Ethiopia, from what I have seen, is clear in its confession about God’s call to mission and ministry as well as about God’s goal for the Lutheran Church’s mission in Africa and around the world.

Praise God for such a vision!

Rev.  Dr. Leonardo Neitzel is Lutheran Church–Canada’s mission executive


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