The Amhara and Tigray territories of Northern Ethiopia, numbering 28 million, are now among the largest unreached people groups in Africa.
In the mid 1990s, Aklilu (Lou) and Genet came to personal faith in Christ through reading a New Testament given to him. Both began sharing their newly discovered faith with friends and family.
While the South has enjoyed a long missionary presence, the North has been quite resistant to the techniques employed by evangelists and would-be church planters. A strong social and cultural stigma exists for evangelicals. Moreover, in most small towns and villages, where 90% of the people live, visible forms of evangelism, like campaigns, crusades and church services, are very ineffective. Lou’s 2008 visit to the Bahir Dar church made it clear a cell, or home church approach is needed.
Lou found Xenos Christian Fellowship’s web site and realized that here in Columbus, Ohio was a model for what was needed in Ethiopia.
As we have prayed and studied together, a vision has taken root in Lou’s heart and is also shared by the group in Ethiopia:
To mobilize, equip and plant a network of multiplying home churches throughout the Amhara and Tigray regions of Northwestern Ethiopia with the goal to remove the Amhara and Tigray from the list of unreached peoples.
Lou and his family returned to Ethiopia in 2013 to continue the work started in the mid 1990s.
Why is this vision within reach?
- Openness to the gospel. Nearly every Ethiopian is monotheistic and considers themselves to be either Christian (65%) or Muslim (35%). People remain spiritually minded and are open to personal evangelism.
- The family household structure (oikos) makes it easy to multiply home churches. People naturally congregate in the Ethiopian household; they share meals and spend evenings in conversation. These households could easily host up to 50 people for bible studies and fellowship, making expensive buildings unnecessary.
- The socio-political situation can facilitate church planting over a wide geographical area. Many Christians hold government professions, drawing both a state salary and considerable social influence. This influence can range from large cities to small villages. Ethiopia enjoys freedom of religion.
- The consensus of the Bahir Dar and Addis Ababa groups strongly supports this vision. These groups are composed of young professionals who are eager to be trained and mobilized.