The history of the word “Euangelion” (Greek for “Good News” or “Gospel”) can be traced back to the story of Pheidippides, who was the runner sent from Athens to Sparta to recruit help to defeat the Persian army. In Greek antiquity, the word was translated as “good tidings.” And it was this message that villagers waited desperately to hear from the village runner following a battle. If the runner shouted “Good News!” it meant their villagers had won the field and the battle. It was a word of victory. “Good News, we won the battle; we get to live!”
It remains a word of victory for us as we claim the victory of Jesus Christ won upon the Cross and within the Tomb. “Euangelion — Good News! His victory is our victory! We live!”
This was the message that I brought on a recent trip to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, through Theologians Without Borders. I joined the Rev. Dr. Gemechis Buba, Assistant to the Bishop for Missions, along with other travelers, in celebrating the graduation exercises of Leadstar Theological College.
Leadstar’s vision is to provide accessible, affordable, and excellent higher education to the people of Ethiopia. Born out of the vision of Dr. Buba, it is serving to raise, train, and equip leaders for the nation of Ethiopia. Its two-pronged approach works to raise business leaders and church leaders through degrees equivalent to Masters of Business Administration and Masters of Divinity.
While I was there, I celebrated as over 1,700 students were released into the workforce and to Kingdom work. Words do not express the energy and excitement I felt around me as I walked into the graduation venue. In a real sense, the future of Ethiopia was being formed and released into the world. Lives and futures were changing.
You may have heard that the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus is growing rapidly. While I was in Ethiopia, I had the privilege of meeting with the EECMY leadership to hear of their work and to pray with them in their pursuit of the Great Commission. Brothers and Sisters of the NALC, we have much to learn from our partners.
The EECMY’s current evangelism initiative consists of some mind-boggling numbers. They are working on sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with 5 million people through the mobilization efforts of 5,000 congregations. Their expectation is that 1 million new believers in Jesus Christ will be the result of this labor.
If that isn’t shocking enough, the duration of this initiative might be: Only three weeks! All of this will be done by the people of the EECMY in just three weeks!
The primary method of sharing the Good News of Jesus is one-on-one conversations. Every person is a part of the team. All hands are on deck. Please join with me in prayer for this harvest as the Holy Spirit continues to move mightily among the people of Ethiopia. And pray that their faithfulness might inspire us to step forward in faithful evangelism, as well.
During my time in Ethiopia and in my processing since, I’ve asked what the secret to this amazing movement and growth is. Certainly there are cultural realities and factors of everyday life that play a large role in the difference between there and here. But I must say, the biggest factor that I witnessed was the Holy Spirit.
Not that the Holy Spirit is present in Africa and no longer in North America. Far from it. Instead, it is the attitude toward the Holy Spirit that is vitally different. In our over-intellectualized minds of the West, we have truncated the power of the Holy Spirit. We have clipped His wings. We are unwilling and uneasy with the powers and the workings of a God whom we can not put in a box. Somewhere in our past, understanding became our chief aim.
The Ethiopian spirit delights in the unknowable aspect of our God. There is a thirst for the mystery.
This thirst saturates every aspect of their faith-filled lives. It changes the way they worship. It changes the way they pray. It changes the way they leave their worship space and enter into the world. It changes the way that they bring hope to those who are lost. Oh, that we would capture a yearning for this Mystery of the Almighty!
Incredible growth doesn’t come without its problems, however. And this is one of the largest reasons for Dr. Buba’s vision. Leadstar Theological College, partnered with the EECMY, is working to develop the many leaders needed to help support the infrastructure of such a rapidly growing church.
It was before these men and women, as they graduated, that I stood and encouraged them to continue to run. “Run — as only Ethiopian marathoners can — with the Good News that the battle has been won. Continue to lead the world in distance running events and continue to lead the Body of Christ as you run to the people who desperately need to hear the Good News!”
Written by Pastor Scott Ness