Robert and Sheena Revie were commended to work as missionaries in Ethiopia in 1969 but were forced to leave in 1979. Since it became possible to enter again they have done so each year.
Since 1993 we have spent three months in Ethiopia every year. During that time we have seen many changes both economically and spiritually. The country is facing many difficulties economically, and one of the greatest immediate problems is the lack of electricity. Ethiopia is dependent on a hydro electric system and recently, because there has been a shortage of water, this has resulted in power cuts every other day. Thus the economy of the country is seriously affected as factories cannot operate as normal. It is also a great hardship for the people in general.
We were able to be at the childrens camp this year at Ginchi when about 120 children attended. One of the encouraging features of this work is that some who were at our first camp about 7 years ago, and who have subsequently trusted the Saviour, are now acting as leaders and they are a great help to the camp work.
During the month of August the brethren conducted special meetings for both children and teenagers in the capital and also in the country areas. Please pray that many of these children will be challenged by the message of the gospel. Pray too for Digafe, one of our evangelists who serves primarily among children, that he might be guided as he teaches Sunday school teachers on how to reach the young.
Recently we have seen the work growing, particularly in the countryside, and there has been a large increase of evangelists who are supported by the local believers. The multi-purpose building at Ginchi is being well used, and it was a real blessing to meet with the evangelists after the childrens camp. These evangelists, many of whom work in remote areas, love to have this time of fellowship, both as they share their experiences, and also have the benefit of the teaching from the Scriptures.
This year we were able to see A J Clarkes book, New Testament Church Principles printed both in Amharic and in Oromo. We are praying that this booklet will be a help to the local believers with regard to the many subjects it deals with. Two brethren have also commenced the translation of John Campbells booklet on future events, and we hope that it will not be too long before this will be ready for printing.
The mega-voice units, being small solar powered MP3 players with the New Testament in the Oromo language, have been well used by the evangelists in areas where there is high illiteracy. In conjunction with this a literacy programme has also been undertaken with many learning to read and write in their language.
This year we were able to travel to a village that until recently was only accessible by horse. Last year new dry-weather roads were constructed to a number of places. The village we visited is called Kiltu and it is about 20kms off the main road. We met one of the evangelists working in that area who related his story over a cup of good Ethiopian coffee. The gospel came to his neighbouring village about 8 years ago and soon these believers were coming to Kiltu to witness and preach, as a result of which Kuma trusted the Saviour. As he was the first to trust the Saviour in an area steeped in witchcraft and Satan worship, the local people burned down his crops and attempted to bury alive one of his younger children. They then falsely accused him of various crimes and as a result he was sent to prison for three months.
Kumas wife who comes from a very strong Coptic Church family and whose father was a local Orthodox priest, also trusted the Saviour. In spite of all the opposition Kuma continued to witness locally and soon the small group of believers were able to build a small mud hall with a thatched roof. After a while, the hall became too small and through the kindness of believers in the UK a more substantial building was erected. There is now a group of over 50 believers meeting in this village.
On one of the Sundays we travelled with four brethren from Addis, each of whom was dropped off at a village along the road where there is either an assembly or an outreach work. Mulugeta (one of our evangelists) and I were visiting a village where the work commenced about 1996 with about 15 believers. Now there is a large company of believers in that fellowship.
Gilata works as a local evangelist, and in his home he told us his story. His brother, who had been converted in Addis Ababa, witnessed to him for 15 years, and although Gilata initially rejected the message, being a heavy drinker, eventually he believed. After his conversion the local villagers tried to burn down his house and the witch doctor told them not to kill him but to wound him and to kill all his cattle. In spite of all this opposition Gilata continued to witness to the local people and saw many trusting the Saviour.
During our visit we were at Batie, a very strong Muslim town, where John Flynn with others commenced the work in Ethiopia in 1952. When we arrived the local evangelist gave us the good news that they were hoping to baptise five believers on the Sunday, one of whom was a young Muslim who had been converted. The only major problem was that there had been no rain in Batie for five months and the water was being rationed in the town, so they were not sure whether the baptisms could take place. However, the Lord knew all about the need and sent a tropical storm on the Saturday night for over three hours. There was an abundance of water for the baptisms on the Sunday morning!
In spite of much that is encouraging, including the large Sunday School work, there are a number of things that have caused us significant concern. The charismatic movement is strong in Ethiopia and has infiltrated the assemblies, causing confusion and changes in practice particularly during the prayer time. While we were in Ethiopia we discussed these problems with the church leaders. Pray that those principles which are Biblical will be practised and that the unbiblical practices will cease. At the present moment there are meetings being held with leaders in various areas to discuss these problems, and we are waiting to see what the outcome will be. Our great burden is that the assembly work will continue to serve in what we believe are practices based on Scripture, and to this end we value your prayers that the outcome will bring glory to God and that there will be a positive witness to the unbeliever.