A Year Worth Celebrating in Ethiopia

By Jason and Liz Polk, Mar 25, 2015

The picture quality of the image is not the best, but it is priceless to us. This photo was taken in November 2014 at the first anniversary of our Suki church plant fellowship. Nearly all of these men and women have become new believers in the past year. They have encountered Jesus Christ through the Scriptures in new and profound ways. They have experienced the power of praying with and for one another. They have learned and internalized the hope of the gospel as we have memorized the Apostles' Creed together. And as you see in the picture—they also know how to celebrate together.

This is no small thing. They come from different ethnic groups. They grew up speaking different mother tongues. Many were taught from young ages to view one another with a measure of distance and suspicion. They come from backgrounds of incredible pain, poverty, and challenge. And yet, for the past year God has been weaving their lives together as a redeemed community of Jesus Christ. Words only begin to express the beauty of what God is doing in their lives, and in our lives through them. Please pray for the Suki church plant as we continue this journey together in 2015. Pray God's kingdom would increase throughout Addis Ababa.

In early 2014 Jason and our son, Nathan, travelled to Gambella, Ethiopia, to conduct a preaching seminar for the Anglican clergy serving in refugee camps along the border with South Sudan. On one hot Sunday morning Jason and Nathan had the joy of standing in this amazing welcome line.

After the worship service, each member of the congregation exited to a long line of greetings and handshakes, afterward taking their place at the end of the line to greet all those coming after them. The result was a long snaking line of 200 men, women, and children all greeting one another with the grace and joy of Christ.

About 100 handshakes into this event, Nathan looked up and said, "Daddy, my hand is tired of handshakes." But after a short rest, he rallied to finish strong with another 50 or so greetings. Whether he realized it or not, he was participating in one of the foundational beauties of so many African cultures—to greet is to know and be known by someone, to belong to one another. It is being human together, and in this instance, being human together as the body of Christ.

Several months ago we began a Church Renewal Network of pastors and elders from our area of Addis Ababa. We wanted to help bring together Ethiopian ministers with similar vision and passion for reaching the city, all in the hope that we grow in sharing life and ministry in community with one another. As we went around the table sharing our hopes for this network, one Ethiopian pastor particularly touched my heart when he said, "I have been in ministry for over 20 years and never had someone with whom to talk about how things were really going. I am so thankful for this gathering." Pray that this fellowship would grow in number and in shared vision for our city.

Liz began a Bible study in our home with one dear friend earlier this year. Our friend has been reading the Scriptures for the first time in her life, even though she has been connected to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church since she was a child. They are working through the gospel of Mark, and at many points our friend has been moved to tears: tears at the tenderness of Jesus in ministering to beggars, at finding the Lord's Prayer and the Ten Commandments in Scripture for the first time, at the humble obedience of Mary in accepting her role as the mother of Christ, at hearing God speak through His Word. We praise God for her openness to his Word and humble faith in Him. Pray that Liz and our friend would continue to find Jesus more beautiful as they encounter him together through the Gospels.

Consider serving in Ethiopia! Email [email protected] to start a conversation.

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Give thanks for lives transformed among the urban poor in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and pray for ongoing spiritual growth. 

Pray for those in the urban slums of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, who are struggling economically due to COVID-19 restrictions. 

Pray for ongoing ministry in the Suki community during COVID-19. Many day workers cannot work, and the church is having to find creative ways to minister. 

Pray for the church-planting team in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, (comprised of five Ethiopian nationals and an MTW missionary) as they work together to wholistically share Christ and serve the local community. 

Pray for the team in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, as national partners and MTW missionaries work hand in hand for a greater overall impact.

Pray for a new initiative in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to hand deliver soap and provide education on disease prevention to 600 families in poverty-stricken communities. 

Pray for the Suki church plant in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and for God to open doors to plant another church in a nearby community. 

Pray for the people being served through Ethiopia ACT, MTW's ministry serving the most marginalized in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. 

Pray for the Church in Africa to deepen and for African believers to live holy lives in accordance with God's Word.  

Give thanks and pray for the Suki church plant in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.


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