‘Truly Fruitful’ is a project that focuses on Scripture engagement by supporting Ethiopian pastors and evangelists in the training that they so greatly desire.
- Country: Ethiopia
- Impact: working with pastors and evangelists from different languages to reach their wider language communities
- Start date: 2017
- Projected end date: 2020
With more than 85 languages in Ethiopia, it is exciting that the Bible has been translated into many of these local languages. In some cases the entire Bible has been translated while in others it is the complete New or Old Testament or a few books of the Bible. Sixty-three Ethiopian languages now have access to at least some Scripture.
This is great progress for the Church in Ethiopia and for the many other organisations that support Bible translation. Having a Bible in their own language brings immense joy to the pastors and evangelists in Ethiopia, but it also brings some unexpected issues.
As excited as the churches are to have the Bible available to them in the language they understand best, the pastors and evangelists have gone through all of their training hearing God’s word read, taught and preached in a language that is not their own. Although the pastor’s or evangelist’s training may have been in another language, their congregations must still engage with the Scriptures in the language they know best. The pastors and evangelists need to build their confidence in understanding, reading and preaching from the Bible in their own languages. Sometimes the translations that are completed do not impact the community as they could, due to the lack of training for pastors in approaching Scripture through their own languages.
To address this problem, this project will gather pastors and evangelists together in a central location in their region twice a year. The focus will be on literacy training and skills training to improve their personal confidence in relating to Scripture in their own languages. Between training sessions they will be given homework to do. Follow-up will be done via phone and email to encourage them in their progress.
Impacting the greatest number of people with Scripture is the goal of any translation project. This process involves coordinating with pastors as they set the tone for how Scripture is used within their congregation. Increasing the skills of pastors and evangelists to read, understand, teach and preach in their own languages will encourage the use of Bible translations in the local languages throughout the Church in Ethiopia.
- to increase the use of local languages in the Church
- to improve the ability of Church pastors to read in their own languages
- to assist pastors in developing sermons and Bible studies in these languages
- to encourage the use of translated Bibles in the Church
- to support the Church as they teach their congregations to use materials in their own languages
- praise God for the progress made in Bible translation in Ethiopia in recent years
- pray for the pastors and evangelists to gain confidence in using their own language to communicate God’s love to the people around them
- pray for the Church in Ethiopia to grow stronger through people having access to the Bible in the language they understand best
- pray for people to respond to the gospel as they hear it clearly in their own languages
The first round of Truly Fruitful Gamo literacy training – including reading and writing in the Gamo alphabet, and Scripture Engagement activities such as How to prepare a sermon, and How to study and lead a Bible group – has been done. It went really well, with 30 pastors, evangelists and church leaders from diverse locations across the region (Chencha, Gerese, Kamba, Chencha Ezo, Arba Minch, Daramalo) in the sessions. They were also grateful to have the opportunity to discuss the various issues facing their communities, and to exchange and record prayer requests.
Everyone worked really hard to learn how to read the Scriptures with confidence in their languages so they would be able to share fluently with their churches, families and communities. Some acknowledged they hadn’t used their Gamo Bibles much yet and repented of this, promising to read, practise, preach from and share their Gamo Bibles daily with their communities.
The church leaders bought over 1,600 Gamo Bibles, and a further 170 Gamo Fidel (Amharic) Bibles, with more Bible purchases planned. Since this first training session, the Chencha church leaders have met a further four times, and many have bought additional Gamo Bibles.
One of the pastors, Kes Yissak, has had a big impact on the Gerese area after starting a Bible study group, for which he bought 64 Bibles. Literacy teacher Tamiru was also invited to train church leaders in the area – this is a real encouragement, as the church is taking the initiative to provide literacy training and covering the costs.
Each area has committed afresh to studying the Gamo Bible, with Arba Minch studying the Gospel of Matthew, Kamba and Chencha Ezo continuing to study the word, and evangelist Mukute preaching and teaching 30–40 people in Daramalo.
Some of the issues the leaders discussed are problems of local idol worship and traditional practices blocking the spread of the gospel in their communities. In some areas, the market is held on Sunday, which means some people go to the market instead of attending church.
Another issue many communities face is the problem of pests eating or destroying their subsistence crops, such as maize. This can be quite damaging in poorer areas where the economy is not so strong. They need to know how to improve their economic situation.
A second round of training is planned in mid-August. The follow-up session, to be held in the same area, will use printed copies of the Lord’s Prayer and the Apostles’ Creed, in addition to other literacy and Scripture-engagement materials. It is hoped additional funding will become available to train women and younger people as well.
Give thanks for:
- all who attended the training, that they were able to travel there and back safely
- their zeal to share the Bible in the Gamo language with their communities, and the responses each area has shown so far
- the opportunities each participant had to share about the issues their communities face, and to exchange and record their prayer requests.
- all who attended will continue to practise using their Gamo Bibles, and their communities will grow in faith and literacy skills
- the strongholds of idol worship will be broken, and that people will go to church on Sunday instead of going to the market
- the pests devouring crops will be destroyed, and the people will learn how to utilise their resources to improve their livelihoods
- for church leaders in each area to be led by the Holy Spirit as they preach, teach and share the word in the Gamo language.