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Awassa Church

August 9th, 2009
awassa3It was a two and a half hour service that I had to step out of in order to speak to William Crawley on Sunday Sequence this morning. By the time William called, we were already going for 90 minutes. I was sorry that the telephone connection to Belfast was not good, but I was able to rejoin the congregation for the final hour. Maybe William will allow me a chance to share my experiences of Ethiopia when I return home.

 

This congregation in Awassa in southern Ethiopia is a congregation of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church, a denomination of five million members, which partners with Christian Aid. Tabor congregation was only planted in 1996 but already has 4000 members and is carrying on outreach work in a number of surrounding areas.

As you can see from the pictures, they have already outgrown their building and are overflowing into the area around the building. They have built the first phase of a new sanctuary, but have had to halt the project until they raise more funds.

What struck me was not only the size of the congregation, but it’s age profile. The vast majority were under 35, and a large percentage were teenagers. The worship awassa1was lively, but controlled, and there was a substantial Bible-based sermon of 35 minutes.

For many years now we have been saying that the centre of gravity of world Christianity is moving globally from the north and west to the south and east. Here, for me, was first hand evidence of that shift.

It seems that the Christianity that is growing is orthodox, biblical Christianity which focuses on Jesus Christ and his transforming grace.

One feature of Tabor congregation is it’s use of evangelists to spread the Gospel in it’s community and region. This was also a feature I noted in churches in South Korea, another area of vibrant and growing Christianity. Maybe declining denominations like PCI should re- consider reviving this ancient, biblical office? It would certainly help to get the church on to the front foot in terms of mission.

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