Situated in the horn of Africa, Ethiopia is a landlocked country of 75 million people, largely surrounded by Islamic controlled regimes. The recent involvement of the Ethiopian army in Somalia to support the national government against Islamic rebel forces is perhaps strategic in keeping a non-Moslem corridor open to the sea.
This emphasises the challenge to Christianity within Ethiopia itself which has seen a great increase in Islamic activity over the past 5 years funded largely by countries such as Saudi Arabia.
The charismatic movement is also a threat to relatively young assembly Christians because of its instability and lack of adherence to biblical teaching.
Recent news from Mulugeta, a local evangelist, speaks of serious disturbances in the south-west of the country where a number of church buildings have been burned, sometimes while people have been inside. Thankfully this has not spread but should be a focus of prayer that it may be contained.
However, in spite of the political and religious difficulties, there is much evidence that assembly work is flourishing and advances are being made with the gospel particularly in the country areas! Indigenous assembly evangelists are spreading the gospel with great effect and God is blessing in salvation. In 1993 there were 8 full-time workers, but that number has now risen to around 90 or 100, and they are looking to God by faith for day-to-day support.
At Akaki and Saris there are nice sized testimonies and good activity in childrens work. Degaffi is a full time worker in this area much gifted in work with children and young people.
Bati has a small assembly in a Moslem area and it is from here that "Brother Andrew" comes. He was heavily involved in the Koranic School but after hearing the gospel over the radio was converted and has the desire to take the gospel back to the mosques on a one to one basis. This is obviously very dangerous and requires much prayer support.
A centre for camps and Bible teaching was built at Ginchi a few years ago. Here about 120 children are brought twice a year and also similar numbers of young people to be taught the Word of God with many being converted to Christ. Through this work it has been possible to help poorer children who have been orphaned through AIDS, both materially and to bring a spiritual influence into their lives. A week long conference is also held at Ginchi for evangelists and elders, and provides an opportunity for strengthening them and discussing difficulties and problems being encountered in the work. Many of these evangelists are labouring in lonely areas, so the fellowship enjoyed at such times is a great support to them.
At Chobi there is an ongoing literacy program where around 50 teachers are training around 1,600 people to read and write. Normally this takes about five years to accomplish, but the success of the program is such that after 2 years 50 percent are able to read and write. An hour and half from Chobi there is an expanding work at Bikay. Twelve years ago there was nothing for God, but today, at conference time, 500 people gather to hear the Scriptures explained and they are predominantly first generation believers! At Chobi, when the conference is held, over 2,000 people gather and this seems to be increasing each year.
New works are also seeing new halls being built in places like Borodo and Wamora, and though these are sometimes simple structures they are built mainly by the local believers and provide them with a place of their own in which to gather.
At Tultili the three sons of an old couple were converted and went back to their village to bear witness for Christ. They had the joy of seeing their parents saved and subsequently a number of others have trusted the Saviour.
Addis Ababa is the capital of Ethiopia and in Addis there is a large assembly which supports the work in the country areas.
Distribution of literature also takes place, but has been restricted both by the poor reading abilities of the people in country areas and also the lack of printed material in the native languages. Recently an Ethiopian concordance has been produced and revised, and this has proved to be of great help as a study aid to the understanding of the Scriptures, particularly for those believers in the west of the country. A new project being undertaken by Robert Revie hopes to provide the Scriptures on audio devices for Oromo speaking Ethiopians. This will be of great benefit for those who are not able to read or who have no Bible of their own. These pieces of equipment are solar powered and would be ideal to use in remoter areas. Robert would value prayer for this project.
Robert and Sheena Revie visit Ethiopia every year from January for three months to give support to the assemblies and encourage the evangelists and elders with Bible teaching and outreach work into the country areas. Remember them in prayer as they engage in this work.