Winning Souls For Christ in Ethiopia!
In March of 2009, Ohana Christian Fellowship of Seventh-day Adventists (West Linn) and Portland Adventist Academy joined and co-sponsored a mission trip to southern Ethiopia. The thirty four participants engaged in a multifaceted outreach of evangelism, construction and development of an Adult Literacy Center and medical and dental ministries in the towns of Awassa and Tula. Each evening, the group simultaneously conducted two open-air evangelistic services in both locations. Students from PAA preached to over 1,000 people in Tula and Ohana Pastor Doug Franzke preached to approximately 1,500 to 2,000 people in Awassa.
After just two nights of meetings, PAA Chaplain Pastor Phillips shared with the group that, “many of the people who are coming to the meeting have no Christian background. At the end of last night's meeting, nearly everyone in the crowd stood to indicate their desire to be ready to meet Jesus when He comes. God is good!”
Health talks were offered as part of both services by Portland surgeon Dr. Mackett, Pastor Phillips, and ear, nose and throat specialist Dr. Ron Franzke, along with some of the students. The response to the call to commit to Christ was overwhelming. On the last Sabbath, 560 souls were baptized in a local hotel swimming pool. Bibles were purchased for those who were planning to be baptized, but the response and desire for the Word of God was so great that more Bibles needed to be purchased!
The children’s ministry was led by Mrs. Mackett, Mrs. Specht and Mrs. Franzke, with the assistance of the PAA students. The meetings were offered twice a day for 400 to 900 children. Puppet shows developed by the students, videos of the Life of Christ in Amharic, music, bible stories and a continued mission story made up the hour long programs each day. An estimated 900 Christian activity books were distributed. At the last meeting, many children indicated their desire to be baptized. The principal of the school and local pastors will be arranging bible studies for these children.
Also, upon arrival, immediate construction began on the Adult Literacy Center. Chet Miller of Portland, the lead builder—with the help of local craftsmen—the students and adult members of the group were able to construct a four classroom complex on the site of Awassa Adventist Academy, a K-12 school of approximately 1300 students. Students also painted a mural designed by PAA’s MacKenzie Kessler in the primary school library. It was dedicated to the memory of Mildred Bruer, the mother of Mrs. Oksenholt. During construction, Mr. Richard and Mrs. Anita Molstead, and Joan Oksenholt, developed and assembled a training manual for the new literacy center. The manual was translated into Amharic and printed. Developed by Richard Molstead, the manual included a section on how to utilize drip-irrigation for producing more food in the drought ridden countryside.
Additionally, government officials from the southern border area of Ethiopia traveled to Awassa to discuss with the education team their hope to set up a satellite school in their region for the nomadic tribes of their area. They currently have little or no education. A church representative from this region stated that, “Education is the key to evangelism” in his area. Another village, about three hours distant, is also pleading for literacy training for 80 women who have raised and educated their children and now would like to learn to read and write themselves. According to Dr. Franzke, “Regular on-site visits are planned as we move into the future development of this program.”
Dr. Mackett and Dr. Franzke led the medical team and Dr. Hessong and his wife provided dental services. Hundreds of patients were treated without charge in clinics, and surgery was also performed at the Awassa Medical Center. Phillips, who assisted in the clinics, felt that “lives were saved by our coming and providing medical services to these people.”
Pastor Franzke stated, “I think short term mission trips are a great way to gain a little perspective. I’m always amazed by what I see and experience when participating in these trips and I never fail to see lives changed. I think it’s a wonderful opportunity to serve God’s children and over the years we’ve made friends that will last a lifetime.” The group praises God for the increase of His kingdom and feel privileged to have been able to participate in this ministry.
– Contributers for this story are: Susan Custer, Nancy Franzke, and Glenn Wachter.