Missionaries from Africa: "Normal Christianity"
1 September 2007
We thank God for the visionary mission work being done by the African churches that partner with SIM. For example, the Evangelical Missionary Society (EMS) in Nigeria has at least 1,400 missionaries, though they struggle with funding and logistics. SIM staff are helping EMS leaders to strengthen those areas. EMS is part of the Nigeria Evangelical Missions Association, which wants to send 50,000 Nigerian missionaries northward to 45 countries on the way to the Middle East. The sacrifices and fruit of EMS missionaries have been recounted in past issues of this magazine. This time we focus on missionaries from Ethiopia.
Down to the Omo Valley
Ten Me’en missionary families (53 people) were sent by their churches to evangelize the Bodi people in the Omo Valley in southern Ethiopia. They rode in the open back of a truck through 50 miles of mud and rivers to an airfield. There they boarded a small plane to fly 100 miles to Jinka (none had ever flown), then traveled by truck for about 75 miles into the Omo Valley, and finally walked three to four hours to their assigned destinations. The trip was especially daunting for the wives, who had never before ventured away from their homes. They are adjusting well, but they are challenged by the long distances to water, grinding mill, and clinic. The dry season, with temperatures over 120˚ F, was a shock to these missionaries from the highlands.
At first they shared the small grass-thatched huts that were home to six evangelists’ families already living there. One by one, as new locations opened, the Me’en families built similar homes for themselves and are now developing vegetable gardens. The Bodi accept the Me’en missionaries readily, thanks to their shared language. The chief of one of the Bodi clans has accepted Christ, along with many of his family, and they are building a church. Young people are responding with enthusiasm to the message about Jesus.
The Me’en and Bodi share a common language, but their customs and practices are very different. The Me’en are gentle agrarian highlanders. The Bodi are aggressive, gun-toting, cattle-herding lowlanders who tend to despise the highlanders. The Gospel first came to the Me’en 15 years ago, and today more than 12,000 Me’en worship in 60 churches. Thirty years ago, SIM worker Dick McLellan and five evangelists made contact with the Bodi and preached the Gospel through translators, not knowing their language. Only a few believed, and then the communist government expelled all missionaries. Ethiopian evangelists again began work among the Bodi in 1992, but there is still no indigenous Bodi church.
Warriors of Ethiopia
Laliso was a missionary sent by his church in
Prayfor preparation, protection, provision, and spiritual power for missionaries from Africa Information provided by Bark Fahnestock, who trained several of the Me’en missionaries, and Dick McLellan, who first made contact with the Bodi.