Reaching the Orthodox: Introduction
Everyone has heard of Sudan, especially the Darfur situation. Sudan is a neighboring country of Ethiopia. In fact, most of the western border of Ethiopia is shared with Sudan.
Sudan is an Islamic state. The persecution of the Muslims against the Christians is well known. What most people do not know is that the persecution against Christians on the Ethiopian side of the border is equally strong – but it is done by the Ethiopian Orthodox organization. While on one side of the border the Muslims reign, on the other side the Orthodox reign, and both hate evangelical Christians.
Two thousand years ago Paul was given a vision. “Come over and help us,” he heard the people in Macedonia say. Macedonia was northwest of where Paul was ministering.
Two years ago we got an email from a church leader. “Come over and help us,” he wrote. We replied that God had appointed us to the Burji and Alaba districts in Ethiopia, and we could not go to the northwest corner of Ethiopia until He appointed.
In February of 2007, this church leader wrote us again. “What God is doing through you in Alaba and Burji is wonderful! When is it our time?” His pleading tugged at our hearts, and we began to seriously pray about it. Was this pleading from God for us?
As we prayed, we wrote back and forth with Tilahun. We discussed the situation of the Lord’s church in Gondar, and we watched to see what, if anything, God would show us in terms of direction. The more we discussed and prayed, the more burdened we became for this section of the Lord’s earth.
Look at this map below. It shows the distribution of the Orthodox Church in Ethiopia. In the northwest section is a white area; this is Lake Tana, where the Nile River starts. Also in this section is a small pink area; this is the town of Gondar. Otherwise the whole section of the northwest of Ethiopia is dark red – almost exclusively Orthodox. It is a dark, dark area spiritually!
Now look at the next map below. This map shows the people who believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Ethiopia – less than 0.13% in the northwestern section of Ethiopia. This means that in a village of 100 people, maybe one person is a believer and the other 99 are Orthodox. There are so few evangelical Christians in the city of Gondar, it doesn’t even show up on the map!
So what is the Orthodox Church? (See Part 2.)
August 9, 2007