The Church in Ethiopia is experiencing unparalleled growth. Evangelicals are said to have increased from 7% to 25% since the fall of Communism in 1991. During the Communist era, people were not allowed to read or discuss the Bible, but things are changing and now the Ethiopian Church is the fastest growing in Africa. There’s a movement of God and an extraordinary thirst for the Gospel. Ethiopians are keen, even desperate, to read the Bible! MediaServe, in partnership with others, has provided 250,000 complete Bibles to Ethiopia during the past five years, consisting of three unique editions: one for the Jews, one for those from a Muslim background, and one for the Christians. We are thrilled to hear what God is doing in Ethiopia!
God is especially moving among the Oromo speakers, but in rural Ethiopia it is common for a church of 100 people to have only one or two Bibles. MediaServe staff has had the privilege of visiting several Oromo-speaking churches. After travelling through the dusty, sandy landscape we finally approached our first church, a straw hut where we heard the sound of vibrant praise to God! Forty or so people were clapping their hands and singing to the beat of a used oil drum. They had all come to faith in Jesus during the past year, but only two of them had a Bible! We made sure the thirty or so who could read received a Bible. One man stood and shared how he had traveled to different Christian conferences in search of a Bible without success. He often borrowed his pastor’s Bible at night and copied Scriptures from it.
Another expressed his gratitude: The Bible I received today is more precious than anything this world can give. It is more precious than gold or silver because it is the Word of God. There are so many people who live in our area. We tell about the saving act of Jesus, but people do not believe us. They do not trust us. “Where is your evidence?” they say. Well, without the Bible, we have no evidence! Now we have the Bible, we can show them the way.
“The Bibles you sent us have gone to an area where we’ve been working with an extensive church planting program. In this region we have now over 3,000 new churches, many of which started in the last couple of years. We currently support 250 church planters working there with a goal of planting 500 new churches. There’s a huge need for Bibles and helpful literature in the local languages. The Bible is essential for the sustainability of the new churches and the booklets you provide us with are very, very good. They are desperately needed for discipling new believers and helping the churches in their work and outreach.
In one remote area in Ethiopia, believers have been planting churches over the last few years. They received 432 Bibles from MediaServe. The Bible is their only religious text and has a high value in the community and the fact that the believers now have a Bible has caused other religious groups to respect them and even engage in religious discussion that is turning people’s hearts to the Gospel.”
Tadessa, an evangelist who oversees 300 other evangelists working in rural Ethiopia shared stories of miracles taking place and people turning to God. He told us: “People are saying: Give us Bibles and teach us! We want the Christians to come and teach us from the Bible!”
Within a major denomination in Ethiopia there are a large number of Christian leaders who do not have a Bible of their own! A situation unthinkable to us. One reason is price. A Bible in Ethiopia costs an average of one to three days salary for a working person in the city, and is almost impossible to afford for people living in the countryside.
Star of David Bible
MediaServe also continues reaching Jewish people in Ethiopia with the Star of David Bible. This Bible highlights God’s promises concerning the Jews and the land of Israel, as well as the Messianic prophecies. Nearly all the Ethiopian Jewish community, Beta Israel, have made Aliyah (returned to Israel), although over 200,000 others, who claim Jewish descent and tradition, remain. Mezmur, an Ethiopian Jewish leader, said: “There’s revival and restoration today among the Jewish people in Ethiopia!”
The most recent Jewish community to receive the Star of David Bible is in a remote region in the north. Like others, they have been isolated and discriminated against for centuries. Gerald Gotzen, a close friend of MediaServe, recently visited them. He says: They have never been accepted by the local inhabitants who treat them with suspicion and even hostility. The reason they survived was their strong faith and hope in the God of Israel… and today there is real conviction in their hearts that Jesus is the Messiah.
Our Bibles also get into Ethiopian prisons where there’s an open door to minister. MediaServe works through local Christian congregations and each year they report almost 8,000 prisoners coming to faith. There’s great eagerness among the prisoners to read the Bible. Many read through the whole New Testament in just three days! Volunteers say it’s not hard to get humanitarian aid for the prisoners, but what they really need is spiritual food! The Bread of Life.
We at MediaServe hear the call and feel the urgency to provide more Bibles, discipleship books and other resources, especially for the youth.