Posts tagged Ethiopia
Michael and Rachel Weller - January 2019 Update

Dear friends and supporters,

Yes, it’s been too long! We've been to the States and back, maybe a couple times since we wrote last. We were there briefly a year ago for the wedding of our son, Thomas, and to meet our newest grandson (Brian's third). And then we were there in the summer for about three months for Interpretation Assignment.

Politically, a lot has happened in Ethiopia in the past two years. The good news is that a new Prime Minister was appointed in March. Dr. Abiy Ahmed is a committed Christian, having learned the faith through the witness of his mother, a member of our partner church, EECMY. His father is a Muslim. Dr. Abiy is the first Oromo Prime Minister, though the Oromo are the largest single ethnic group in Ethiopia. Most importantly, Dr. Abiy is a man of peace and unity. He spent his first months visiting each region and pointing out how each ethnic group in the country is a part of Ethiopia. He asked people to forgive each other and to work towards building peace.

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Church Construction in Jimma - December 2018 Update

During a recent trip to Africa, I was thankful for the opportunity to visit Jimma, Ethiopia, to get caught up on progress with the Ginjo Guduru Bethel Mekane Yesus Church, or, as it is often called, the Jimma University Church.

Work on the physical structure has proceeded gradually, moving forward when the congregation has had funds for construction, see photo at top of page. They have continued to prioritize their outreach efforts or “prayer houses,” and funds that they might otherwise have used on their own building they have used to help newly formed congregations purchase land. I love their passion for reaching out.

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Church Construction in Jimma - Update

Waqtola Cheneke Gebisa, pictured here, has served as the vice chair for Jimma Ginjo Guduru Bethel Mekane Yesus Church for the past two years, and he continues to serve as an elder. Currently, he is also serving as the vice chair for Jimma Presbytery. He is an assistant professor at the School of Medical Laboratory Sciences at Jimma University. Waqtola recently sent this update on his congregation’s ministry and building program.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Peace and grace be to you!! I thank you very much for your email and concern about our church. I know that you are always praying for us, thank you very much. On Sundays there are usually more than 2,500 people gathering for worship in our congregation, which is still using our old church building.

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University Student Ministry - May 2018 Update

Background of the Ministry
The Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY) launched University Student Ministry in the early 1960s. Since the beginning, the focus of the ministry has been on making students disciples of Christ regardless of their denominational affiliation. After the fall of the communist regime in Ethiopia, the Church established her own University Student Ministry at the national level under the Department for Mission and Theology of the Church.

A Brief Activity Report
Even though Ethiopia has been under a state of emergency for the past two years, USM has tried hard to reach students at their various campuses. Many campuses are now centers of political instability. However, the unrest hasn’t stopped the students from holding their spiritual gatherings. 

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Rebuilding Hope in South Sudan - March 2018 Update

The project, “Rebuilding Hope in South Sudan,” has a number of on-the-ground partners. This project update comes from  Mr. John Jock Gatwech, Coordinator for the Education Ministries of the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan in the refugee camps in Ethiopia. Thank you, brother John Jock, for this report and for all the work you do.
Jeff Ritchie, Mission Advocate, The Outreach Foundation

From November 22-24 of last year, I accompanied Dr. Frank Dimmock, The Outreach Foundation’s Mission Specialist for Africa, the Rev. Stephen Pal Kun, Coordinator of Ministries for the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan (PCOSS) in the refugee camps in Ethiopia, and the Rev. James Gatdet Tang, President of the Western Gambella Bethel Synod of the  Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus, on a visit to PCOSS Schools in the refugee camps in the Gambella Region of Ethiopia. Over a three-day period we covered the six camps – Kule, Tierkidi, Nguenyiel, Jewi, Pugnido One and Pugnido Two. In each place we were received with great joy and enthusiastic singing by the children of the preschools we visited.

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Michael and Rachel Weller - September 2017 Update

Dear friends,

I know it’s been a long time since I’ve written. Truth: We’ve been arguing about who is going to write this one. Since February, Michael has been officially “only a teacher.” I think that means he has time to write a newsletter. He doesn’t think he has anything to say! So, we argue (silently) instead of write.

We’ve been mostly together since February, a significant life-change for us. A good change. Michael spent the winter and spring months (northern hemisphere – we don’t have those seasons here) “just teaching” at the two EECMY Bible Schools in Gambella. He learned a lot in those months. Neither school is functioning at top quality. Most of the students are not prepared to be studying at the level in which they are studying. He was teaching in English; many of the students cannot understand simple English. He learned that he speaks “difficult English.” He also learned that people do a lot of comparing of the two of us – especially in our ability to communicate. He hasn’t been living in Gambella as much as I have and so hears a lot less Nuer than I do and speaks it less than I do. Africans have no taboo against saying, “She is much better than you are.” Being “just a teacher” has proven to be more difficult than he imagined.

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Rebuilding Hope in South Sudan - April 2017 Update

South Sudan has been in crisis since December 2013 because of a civil war which has devastated the land, killed tens of thousands of people, and driven millions into Internally Displaced Person camps inside the country or into refugee camps outside the country. The Outreach Foundation has re-framed our mission with the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan (PCOSS) to rebuild hope among the hundreds of thousands of refugees who have fled to camps in Ethiopia.  

One of those refugees is John Jock Gatwech. I met him in 2013 when he was a teacher at the leading school of the PCOSS, Good Shepherd School in Malakal. John also worked in the Department of Education of the PCOSS. In addition to being trained as an educator, he has also studied theology.

The next time I met John Jock was in Gambella, Ethiopia in 2015. He had fled for his life when the civil war reached Malakal, headquarters of the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan. Living in Gambella with an uncle, John had no income and had lost most of his belongings. But John wanted to make a difference through his calling as a teacher. 

After we met John Jock on our initial visit to the refugee camps, he sent us a proposal to establish preschools in three of the parishes of the PCOSS that had been established in the camps. The target group would be almost 400 children. Additionally, adult literacy classes would be started. All the classes would be taught by volunteer teachers. 

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University Student Ministry - January 2017 Update

The University Student Ministry of the Mekane Yesus Church (EECMY) ministers to students on many campuses by gathering them in small discipleship groups for training and growth. In collaboration with the EECMY congregation closest to each campus, USM facilitates leadership development and Christian growth conferences as well as Christian education activities. Seminars led by different experts are also held at each campus.  

A female student network established by the Mekele EECMY congregation brings female Christian students from Mekele University in to share experiences, opportunities and challenges. Training is given on topics 

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Michael and Rachel Weller (PCUSA) - March 2016 Update

Fasting is a common practice in Ethiopian Christian communities. Many churches designate one day a week to gather at the church or someone’s house to focus on prayer. They go without eating or drinking all day. The Jabjabe congregation in Gambella practices this discipline every Friday. I was invited to participate with the members of the Jabjabe congregation, a new church with an active membership. At 7:30 a.m. my companion came to my door to escort me to the church. 

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Michael and Rachel Weller - June 2013 Update


Micah 6:8 is a verse I have been thinking about a lot over the past several years.

What does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

There are a lot of things to say with that verse as a theme, but I won’t bore (or amuse) you with my amateur theology. This verse, however, has been a guide to much of what I have chosen to do. This week I was faced with a situation. It has not disappeared, of course. I am still in a dilemma

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