Issue 3 Stories

Cellphone Discipleship

The epitome of multi-tasking, ‘G’ is constantly on his cellphones staying connected to Afar Christians or overseeing the running of a not-for-profit (one of SIM’s partner organizations in Ethiopia). This partnership exists to reach the Afar people of Ethiopia through various projects in the Afar region.

Given the enormous geographical spread of the Afar region, ‘G’ and his team are constantly driving great distances form one project to another and from one small group of believers to another. Some Afar believers have never met being many hours away even by vehicle.

‘G’ is committed to evangelizing the Afar. New believers are only baptized after ‘G’ is assured of their salvation and some of these are invited to attend discipleship training outside the region that takes place every 2 months.

These discipleship events are often the first time Afar believers meet each other. After 3-4 days of intense training and worship each Afar that attends is given a cellphone with the Jesus story, and the discipleship training material that they have studied, as well as the Bible in their Afar language, all loaded onto the phone.

The Afar are primarily semi-nomadic people with an Islamic background. To be an Afar is to be Muslim. Often an Afar Christian is the only one in their immediate family or their tribe. Many risk their lives simply be being Christian. At best they will be cast out from their family. At worst, killed for their new belief. So this cellphone is their lifeblood and often are their only link to the Gospel. They can listen to this pre-loaded material and call other Afar Christians, including ‘G’ for support and inspiration.

After a recent training event, ‘G’ receives a phone call while on the road. ‘G’ says that he can’t talk, he’s driving. This believer didn’t want to end the call until he told ‘G’ what a wonderful encouragement the discipleship training was for him and how helpful the cell phone was to his lonely Christian walk.

Actual numbers vary, but it is safe to say that less than 200 Afar are believers. Yet God is building His kingdom through ‘G’ and an evangelist who visit, disciple and encourage new believers as they travel from project to project and village to village.

When ‘G’ is asked what he needs from the Canadian church his response is, “Prayer first, people second, money third.” “We need Christians to commit to pray for this work – I know this area is ripe for the harvest. There has never been a time when the Afar are more open to the Gospel than now. There has never been more opportunities to impact the afar through life-changing projects but the reality is that the workers are few.”

‘G’ concludes by saying, “We need people who will commit their lives to reaching the Afar – Ethiopian Christians as well as foreign missionaries.”

 

Opportunities to serve

-       SIM need development workers, TESL teachers, water engineers, disciplers, nurses and many more to serve alongside our Afar partners.

Opportunities to give

-       You or your church can give to the work of reaching the Afar. Current projects include discipleship, radio, health and education. Go to www.sim.ca/projects/AfarMasterProject  (CA 90241).

 

Please pray for peace

The Afar region is again facing the impact of a clan war. A few months ago, 10 men and 1 woman were killed and 29 were badly wounded in tribal clashes.

A further 6 died and 9 were wounded from the opposing clan. The Afar traditionally kill in retribution for crimes like stealing livestock or food. It is likely with famine spreading that these clashes will escalate.

Currently the regional government is trying to manage the situation but the reality is that lifestyles are unlikely to change without the Afar experiencing the true peace that only comes from knowing Christ.


Please pray for:

-      wisdom for those working in the Afar region to clearly communicate the gospel message of forgiveness and love

-      peace instead of war - that the Afar will reconcile their differences without bloodshed

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