Muga answering questions and encouraging Maale believers
Back in July of this year we held a Church Planting Movement conference (CPM) in Alduba attended by 35 church leaders (see post “June 13 Update”). For many of us here in the South Omo, this training was something we’d been waiting for years to hear; a wake up call to get busy making disciples and a revelation on the simplicity of planting Christ’s Church.
Following the CPM conference in Alduba some of the Church leaders and I decided to teach this same material to the first class of students at the opening session of the Turmi Tyrannus School of Missions in September (see post “Turmi Tyrannus School of Missions”). Similar to the Alduba experience a few months earlier, many of the 33 students at Turmi received the training with elation. To make matters even more exciting, a group of 60 Nyangatom believers, received the same church planting training in the river side village of Kangatan in July in anticipation of a two month rainy season outreach to the distant unreached areas of their own people. It truly was an exciting summer for the Church and it was hard not to get caught up in all the exhilaration.
Knowledge can be a very empowering thing. Nevertheless, it has been my experience that learning is only the first step. The next and more important step is implementation. If we don’t quickly put into effect the things we learn, then the excitement quickly fades and we soon lose the motivation to act. My greatest fear over the past summer was that although we’d found a pearl of great value, many would just set it beside the fireplace with all their other trophies. So it was with much anxiety that we started this fall with evaluations; visiting the sites of many of the trainees of this past summer. What we discovered over the past two months has been an amazing account of what God has in store for those that are willing to carry the cross and follow Jesus.
On October 29th, a small group of us flew to the Maale people to evaluate a group of five students that were trained at Turmi. Surprisingly we found all five of the trainees actively discipling men and women from their respective villages. In fact, one of the students, Kibru, was discipling over 40 people and leading Bible studies four days a week. Below is a picture of Kibru with some of his disciples.
Kibru (holding book) with some of his disciples
We spent no more than a couple of hours on the ground in Maale, before we headed off to our next destination, but before we left we had a chance to encourage many of the new disciples and answer some of the profound questions that many pastoralist communities struggle with as they first hear the words of life. The information gained from these field visits is extremely important in helping us set the agenda for the next training at the Turmi Tyrannus School of Missions, where we’ll invite the 33 students back for additional training.
On the October 30th, we visited the riverside town of Kangatan to meet with Nyangatom church leaders in hopes of hearing the outcome of their CPM training and rainy season outreach. As we set in the shade of a small tin-roofed church we listened to the account of how the trainees had traveled several days to reach the outlying areas of the Nyangatom along the Ethio-S. Sudan border. And after 2 months of teaching and discipling, 6 new churches were planted with a total of 210 baptized believers, over 2000 people made professions of faith, and over 17,000 heard the Gospel for the first time. To say that the outreach was fruitful is an understatement. However, because the outreach was conducted by students, who are now back in school, there are no mature believes left to shepherd the new believers. To answer this great need, the Nyangatom church leaders requested our assistance in sending 6 evangelists to the newly planted churches. In response, one our supporters, who happened to visiting Alduba during this time, volunteered to pay the salaries of two of the evangelists for one year. Also, as part of our commitment to see the Nyangatom reach their Taposa neighbors, we’ve agreed to help the Nyangatom church with transportation and provisions for a CPM conference to train local believers from the area along the Ethio-S. Sudan border.
Meeting with Nyangatom church leaders
It is so exciting to finally see the Church being planted in the South Omo! Both the Cox family and our wonderful Ethiopian brothers and sisters thank you all for partnering in this great work.
Working together, hand-in-hand