The minaret towered above us....
As I looked through the metal lattice work, the huge mosque filled the window of the church. At the pulpit, Raymond was preaching the Gospel using the Heart of Man chart - proclaiming Jesus to be the only way to God.
Earlier as I shared the vision to plant multiple churches across Ethiopia, the pastor had stopped me, "we don't use the word Islam or Muslim here", he said, "our neighbours can hear. We speak of the bad teaching". Now looking at the imposing minaret I realised how challenging ministry is in this area of Addis Ababa. Despite this, the church was using a powerful sound system and everyone in the vicinity could hear that Jesus is Lord!
More than 60 pastors had gathered to be trained in the Hub model of church planting as well as in evangelism. They came from every part of the country, enthusiastic to learn to be even more effective in their nation.
Ethiopia is surrounded by countries hostile to the Gospel. It shares a large border with Somalia; also with Sudan, South Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti and Kenya.
Islam already has a huge presence in the nation with over 30% of the population belonging to Islam. Churches also face the challenge of orthodoxy and tradition in the nation. Church buildings are very important to people as a symbol of the church and much of our teaching focused on the Biblical concept of what constitutes a church. Most of the pastors are bi-vocation, with only a small percentage of them being full time in ministry. Churches are poor and are in need of teaching on stewardship. Despite these challenges, the response was very encouraging. Fifty two pastors committed to becoming Hub Leaders. Together we decided on two International church planting weekends and specific dates were chosen. These dates have already been accepted by our leaders in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania and soon we will be involving the West African churches too.
The church we were in is small in comparison to the mosque - it lies in the shadow of the minaret. From time to time, the cry of the Imam drowns out the voice of the pastor and observing the two side by side, few would suspect where the real power lies. However, we know that greater is He that is in us, than he that is in the world.
A fire has been lit in the hearts of fifty two men and woman of God - a Fire that will burn until the mosque lies in the shadow of the Almighty!"