As you may know, Tricia and I are sent through Eastern Mennonite Missions (EMM) in PA, USA to serve with All Nations in Cape Town, South Africa. EMM has rich missions history dating back to the early 1900s. We came to All Nations with the hope of linking the to organizations together into richer Kingdom collaboration--relational and organizational networking leading to partnership in mission. This is the first such opportunity. (There is an initiative that I am partnering into called Project Engage. I will be telling you more about Project Engage soon. But, know that this trip is conencted to this as well.)
There is a very large Mennonite Church in Ethiopia called Meserete Kristos Church (MKC). EMM planted it 60 years ago (and turned it over to local leadership 10 years later). I have heard about the church and met some of the leaders over the last years. This is a massive and impressive church with a story that only God could have authored.
Brief MKC History: Planted 60 years ago by Mennonite Missionaries, Meserete Kristos Church (meaning "Church founded on Christ" in Amharic) is a church that has experienced major growth under major persecution. In 1971, a Marxist/Communist government forcefully came into power Ethiopia ("Derg"). The corrupt government tool all money and property from MKC and arrested many of their leaders. As a result, MKC went underground with about 5,000 members and 12 churches. At this point the congregations divided into cell groups/ Home churches. They were underground for almost 10 years. In that 10 years, God multiplied 10 fold and when they came above ground in 80s they were 50,000 people!! Due to cell life, real disciples emerged and people started knowing God personally and obeying him radically.
Today, this church has:
- 401,100 members
- 636 churches
- 856 church planting centers
- 27 Regional Lead teams
- They are sending people out (Ethiopians) in mission like a machine (nationally and internationally).
- And they are the largest Mennonite church in the world making up about a quarter of Mennonites worldwide (if I am reading the book accurately).
What is further fascinating is that it is 100% Ethiopian led! No white leader works in the office or makes the decisions. This is a fairly unusual situation for Africa.
When I arrived the other day and met with the head leader of MKC, he gave me a gift-- a book tracing the history of the church. I hung on each word of the 280 pages and completed it an hour ago. Great story!! (Picture above.) There is nothing like reading this book ON THIS SOIL!! Where it all happened. Awesome!
Would you pray with us?
On this trip, I have met with their leaders about UUPG possibilities and gathered info that they are aware of. They are not only ready to assist in engagement of 2 people groups but, but have also helped me to see the massive potential on Ethiopia for reaching North Africa and the Middle East. Ethiopia has been defined as a Christian island in a Muslim Ocean (though there are still 34 of the 82 ethnic groups in Ethiopia unreached)!
Some exciting things are stirring for the future. My heart is full. Pray for EMM, All Nations and MKC as we discern possible kingdom collaboration and synergistic undertakings led of the Lord. We need wisdom, ears attuned to the Spirit and the courage to obey.