Ethiopia is large, landlocked nation in the Horn of Africa which was once a centre for the early church. Bordered by Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan and Kenya, it contains remnants of some of the oldest civilisations in the world. Despite remaining almost entirely free from colonial invasion, in the twentieth century the nation was torn apart by wars and political upheaval, refugee crises (which continue to the present day) and critical environmental disasters including drought and deforestation. Over 100 million people live in Ethiopia, making it one of the most populous nations in Africa – and the majority of this population live in rural areas, working in primary industry (farming). Of this population, in a trend seen across the African continent, over 60 percent of the nation is under the age of 25. HIV/AIDS affects nearly 1 million Ethiopians. It is a country at risk – and one that desperately needs Jesus to combat the southward push of Islam from the north of Africa.
Location: Eastern Africa
Surface Area: 1.13 million km2
Population: 100 million
Major Cities: Addis Ababa 4.5 million, Dire Dawa 1.2 million, Mek’ele 480,217, Gondar 358,257, Bahir Dar 348,429, Awasa 318,618, Dessie 279,423, Jimma 2017,573, Jijiga 185,000, Shashamane 154,587.
Major Language: Amharic, Oromo, Tigrinya, Somali
Colonial History: Occupied by the Italians in 1963
Official Language: Amharic
TEAM LEADER: Mel Mesfin
Mel became AE Team Leader for Ethiopia in 2003, after over 20 years working as an economist. He spent about 17 years in the Ethiopian Ministry of Planning and Economic Development working as an economist, Team Leader and Head of Department. While working with AE, Mel has pioneered a student discipleship programme for upper primary to adult children, entitled ‘Building the Church of Tomorrow, Today’. His passion is to see the expansion of the Kingdom of God on earth through the release of spiritual leaders. There is a strong Student Discipleship Programme through the universities in Ethiopia.
PROJECT 1: Student Discipleship Programme
Aside from participation in city wide missions, the Student Discipleship Programme is a critical ministry of the Ethiopian Team in AE. The programme has a broad focus, targeting students from grade 5 until young adulthood. The objectives are:
- Equipping students to grow in their faith in God, develop a more solid understanding of the Bible and have a desire and ability to reach out to their peers with the Gospel.
- Training youth in basic leadership skills and equipping them to grow as effective Christian youth leaders in a changing world.
The beauty of the programme is that it can be repeated annually. This consistent sowing of Gospel seeds has led many young people to Christ. Christian youth can be reached yearly with new skills and strategies to learn and implement in their own walks with Jesus. In 2016, the programme reached more than 19,000 students in 200 cities and towns throughout Ethiopia. Mel’s desire is to see 30,000 students reached in 2017, and to work toward training 50,000 youth annually from 2020 into the future. He also has plans to expand the programme into other AE nations, and to move north into South Sudan using the same principles. Praise God for this strategic, evangelistic outlook!
Over the past few years, 2013 – 2016, the AE Ethiopia Team has carried out 10 university missions and 2 city wide missions. University missions are a major focus for the Ethiopian team, and a dynamic way to engage with the young people in the country. These university specific missions have been carried out in universities in Mekelle, Gondar, Bahir Dar (2), Debre Tabor (3), Debre Markos (2) and Aksum (2). Further to these university missions, in 2015 a city wide mission took place in Gondar. 21,800 people were reached with the Gospel, and 743 people were saved. In 2016, a city wide mission was carried out in Bahir Dar, with a reach of 26,117 and 1,327 people putting their trust in Jesus! In 2017, Mel and the Team have a vision to continue reaching out to the north of Ethiopia, to the city of Dessie. Northern cities in Ethiopia are particularly strategic locations for missions, because they lie close bordering Sudan, where AE has been working hard at peace and reconciliation projects over the last decades. Please pray for wise and careful planning, willing volunteers and many hearts won for Christ.
March 15 Update (From AE Ethiopia Team Leader Mel Mesfin)
- Please pray for God’s wisdom in selecting new AEE board members scheduled for mid – April.
- Pray that our students’ discipleship program planned for July-August 2017 will be successful. We look forward to training up to 20,000 students in 100+ cities/towns.
- Please pray for a plentiful soul harvest at the Dessie 2017 Mission scheduled for December 21-24, 2017.