SIM Canada partners with a local entity in Ethiopia - FSA (Friendship Support Association) - to reach out to the semi-nomadic Afar who are almost 100% Muslim believers.
Orillia Community Church (OCC), at that time was not involved with any overseas missions. OCC’ers responded that day and gave generously toward the Camel Watering Stations project. In October 2013 we were invited to Ethiopia to see a little of what God was doing among the Afar.
Since that initial visit, five people from our congregation have travelled to Ethiopia several times over the last nine years – most more than once. All of the trips since then have involved some aspect of connection with the Afar. Sometimes, because of time commitments, it has simply been meeting with ‘G’ the Director of FSA for coffee or a meal in Addis Ababa. Other times there have been opportunities to minister to and encourage Afar believers as well as FSA staff.
One trip involved an extensive prayer journey through parts of the Afar. Sadly, these areas are now experiencing violence, near the Tigray province and where the Afar and Issa peoples are in conflict over land.
From that first visit we have had further opportunities to teach at a Bible College in Bahir Dar; encourage SIM missionaries at a couple of gatherings; encourage ministry to youth in Mekelle; and work alongside and help develop skills in the “Hidden Abilities” ministry to the parents of developmentally disabled children in Bahir Dar.
The Afar now call us “kataysia” (which comes out of 1 Samuel 18:3) to describe the covenant relationship between David and Jonathan. And so while we give to support the ministry of FSA, our connection with them is much more.
- Many folks at OCC consider themselves friends with ‘G’.
- We give regular updates to OCC of what is happening in Ethiopia and especially in the Afar and among the Afar believers.
- Many pray regularly for ‘G’, his family, the FSA staff and the Afar.
- Some of our people pray at 8:10am (4:10pm in Ethiopia) for 5-10 minutes along with FSA staff in Ethiopia.
This relationship we have developed is so encouraging both as we pray for the ministry that is happening in Ethiopia, and as ‘G’ reminds us, FSA staff pray for us.
And the work is paying dividends. Little by little the Afar are coming to Christ. Part of the work that SIM and FSA are doing, is not only evangelizing, but also discipling and training the new Afar believers. Small congregations now meet to worship the Lord. It has been exciting to be part of this!
Recently I told ‘G’ that we were going to have postpone our trip to Ethiopia in the Fall of 2021 because of the violence that is taking place in the area, and which is projected to continue. I told him I was disappointed and feeling a little guilty that I get to remain in a safe country while they are facing so much tension. ‘G’ reminded me, “Yes, we will miss you, but don’t feel guilty, we need you and we know that OCC is praying for us.”
We continue to be partners in ministry with SIM and FSA as we give and as we pray, and hopefully have the opportunity to go and be with our brothers and sisters in the Afar once again.
Recent violence and natural disasters have led to many deaths. People fleeing the conflict are desperate for food and basic provisions. Pray that God will provide for their needs and for peace to return to the region.
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