Ethiopia: Theology Course Equips Leaders to Teach the Word
Sube* dreams of opening training centers to inspire and equip other leaders to advance God's Kingdom in the Horn of Africa.
After coming to Christ as a teenager in Ethiopia (#22 on the World Watch List), Sube* faced significant persecution. However, she continued following Christ and telling others about Him. Theological training from Open Doors has equipped her for this important work. Now her passion is to help others benefit from the life-changing insight into the Word of God the course brings.
When 39-year-old Sube talks about her spiritual journey, her entire body joins in the conversation. Her hands gesture, and her body leans forward as she emphasizes different parts of her story. It was a bright morning when she met with an Open Doors worker to talk about the benefits she has reaped from attending our theological training.
Sube comes from a remote area north of Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, where it can be very costly to profess Christ. Evangelical Christians suffer physical attacks, isolation from the community and denial of certain rights. Her family frowned upon evangelical Christians. That’s why it came as such a shock when, at the age of 15, she became one of them.
‘Like Ointment on My Scars’
Growing up, Sube suffered from an unknown ailment that caused constant stomachaches and affected her eating. “My family went to so many places to try and save my life, but nothing worked,” she remembers. “When I was about 15, my sister and I decided to attend church. After I became a Christian, I got well. Afterward, I loved Jesus and came to desire a relationship with Him much more than simply being free from illness.”
When Sube’s father discovered that his daughters had trusted Christ, he chased the two sisters from his house. Until his death years later, he refused to accept their faith. Still, the her father’s response didn’t douse her evangelistic passion. She shared Christ with all her other family members; eventually, they all became Christians.
Although Sube had some biblical training, she hungered for more. When Open Doors brought our theological training to her area, she eagerly enrolled. She completed the course in three years, all the while continuing her evangelism ministry. “All of us had very good fellowship. Our teachers were very good and blessed us very much. It was a great joy.”
While persecution failed to derail her, other conflicts almost did.
“There were always many different challenges for me as a woman,” she says, adding that she finds it difficult to talk about the misunderstandings and mistrust she faced. She tries not to think too much about them. Training she received in the course strengthened her resolve to go on.
“I was comforted by the teaching of the course that always pointed me to the Bible,” she says. “God’s Word became my strength in weakness. It helped me to stand strong. It helped me to courageously face my challenges and be still and trust the Lord. It was like ointment on my scars.”
Specifically, she found inspiration in the Apostle Paul’s words to the church in Colossians 4:17: “Tell Archippus: See to it that you complete the ministry you have received in the Lord.”
“These words have driven me to serve and kept me moving forward,” she says. “And it taught me that I should serve with care. That is why I love [this verse].”
The course, she says, has shaped her and her ministry. “I was able to [learn and remember] so many principles that helped me and prodded me on in my own spiritual journey.”
Making Disciples Who Make Disciples…
The training also instilled in Sube a deep desire to share what she was learning with others.
“Every time I attended a class, I was more convinced how vital this knowledge was to all Christians, and I wanted to teach others. In the big cities, church ministers have the opportunity to attend biblical teachings. However, most ministers who live in rural areas serve their people without proper biblical knowledge.”
The course is based on 2 Timothy 2:2: “And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” So even before they had finished the course, Sube and the other students presented the course to evangelists in the different churches in the area. They were so eager to help others benefit from the training that they each gave whatever they could to fund a trainer to start classes in two different areas.
When she speaks about the more than 100 evangelists, pastors and elders from different churches she has helped train over the past five years, Sube’s face shines. “Each lesson I taught reminded me of the fact that there were others that I had learned from.”
But it is by no means over. “If God wills, I want to establish training centers for such people where I and other teachers can deliver training. This is my passion. I would like to acknowledge Open Doors for accepting me into the theological training. It has had a great impact on my life.”
Prayer points for Sube and the church in Ethiopia
- Please pray for Sube as she seeks to open training centers in an area where being a Christian is difficult. The ruling party in the country has blocked all the channels for freedom of expression and assembly, and has also tried to control all religious institutions in a bid to curb dissent.
- Pray that through her efforts many Ethiopians would grow stronger in their spiritual journey and learn how to make disciples who make disciples.
- Pray for wisdom and discernment for church leaders in this area of Africa as they respond to Islam’s growing influence ecclesiastical arrogance in Ethiopia.
* name changed for protection