Prior to Total Member Involvement evangelistic meetings, Adventists in Ethiopia have organized health expositions in various corners of the country. This, they say is a sure way to invite people to attend evangelistic meetings.
Unlike other countries of the East and central Africa Division (ECD), the presence of Seventh-day Adventists in Ethiopia is very low. While the population is more than 100 million, Seventh-day Adventists are 184,000 only. Ethiopians are very zealous for their culture. Thus, among many other things, they are very resistant to religious change. As the whole division focuses on sharing hope with the Ethiopians, health expositions have been deemed the correct language.
To implement this, the health ministry department of the church has been working in harness with Parousia Mission, a self- support ministry to prepare people for the Adventist Message. Together, they have been engaged in restoring mankind physically, mentally and spiritually.
Anteneh Hailu who works with Parousia ministry shared that health message is breaking barriers. As an example, he cites Sebeta and Burayu, two prisons not far from Addis Ababa where they had health expositions. He asserts that before they left, 148 people started studying the Voice of Prophecy. He adds that 300 more came for life style discussion in Akaki, Gerji and Kebena. As a result, 50 signed for bible study.
But the most interesting part of the story he gladly shares is that 2 of the prisoners were released. They searched for the Adventist church. They found it and they are now attending baptismal class.
Out of their experience, Adventist health practitioners have noticed that people are very reluctant to attend an “unknown” church. Moreover, they do not want to hear any theory that differs from their convictions. However, they are ready to attend health expositions where they learn how to take care of their bodies. In the process, they discover that there are people who care about human wholeness. It is at this point that one can share what Adventists believe. Hailu reveals that trust is so much growing in the city of Addis Ababa that some protestant TV channels have allowed health ministry space to share some presentations because they believe it will impact the community.
Elias one of the TMI coordinators at Kotebe church in Addis Ababa praises health expositions for their impact on evangelism. He says that people come from all the vicinities of the city and it becomes easier to invite them to church. The Adventist medical doctors who have sacrificed time and money for these activities intimate that they are very pleased to spend and to be spent. One of them has summarized their current job in a very simple practice known as “NEW START” which means: Nutrition, Exercise, Sun Shine, Time, Air, Rest and Trusting God.
As TMI meetings go on in Ethiopia, 220 international speakers have entered the country. They have joined more Ethiopian evangelists. There are 1300 centers and three guests for each. Pastor Okindo, the ECD evangelism coordinator says that each church member is a TMI site and they must plead with God to discover their personal ministry.
Since the beginning of the quinquennium, the East and central Africa Division has been conducting regional mega evangelistic meetings in the spirit of TMI. Each year, the whole division focuses on one region. This time, all eyes are riveted on Ethiopia and South Sudan.
Prince Bahati Is the Communication Director for East-Central Africa Division