LeChristian News - Tikimt 8, 2011 E.C

Pastor Ewnetu is a pastor at Kebele 14 Meserete Kirstos Church branch, one of the largest churches in Bahir Dar city. He has been pastoring the church for more than two decades and describes the current state of evangelicals in the city as “unsatisfactory”. Pastor Ewnetu lists a number of reasons for his reservations among which he included the simultaneous effect of post modernism and nominalism.

He shares his frustration, “Long ago evangelical believers of our city had a visible influence. Even if we were persecuted we had a revealed testimony. Nowadays people don’t seem to care about us anymore. This is due to believers’ lower moral life standard than before.”

Pastor Ewnetu never hid the influence of prosperity teaching on the churches across the city. “Prosperity teachers have led the Christians to liberal inclination,” told LeChristian.

There are eighteen (18) local churches under the umbrella of evangelical churches’ fellowship of Bahir Dar city. Meserete Kirstos (4) and Mulu Wongel Believers’ (3) Churches share the majority (7). However, the oldest church in the city is Hiwot Birhan planted by the late missionary martyr Abate Olanios in the 1960s. Hiwot Birhan has been the mother church for the other denominations in the city also.

The chair of the fellowship, Pastor Desalegn Abate shares Ewnetu’s frustrations and adds the recent political reform’s influence in the city. “The recent political reforms taken by the governing body of the country is an answer for our prayer. We are really grateful for the freedom of speech in the country; however, we are afraid that believers have gone too deep in the politics that their daily conversation has been nothing but what is in the news. We need to come back to our senses and to the missions God has given us.”

Recent data show that around three hundred and ten thousand (310,000) inhabitants live in Bahir Dar and evangelicals comprise less than 3.2%. The persecution level as noted by the church leaders has reduced due to the diversified nature of the city and due to the enhancement of inter-religious relationship. However, this did not rule out the fact that still evangelicals are not welcomed in the peripheral woredas of the city.

“Believers in the other parts of Ethiopia claim that the Northern region has been reached with the gospel. This is not true. Much of the north is still waiting for a protestant. There are people groups who are told a protestant ‘pente’ is a flying monster. We have a lot to do.” Pastor Ewnetu told LeChristian. “However, I have a hope. God has shown us a change in reform in the country politics. He can do it in the church. I trust God”

Around 6,000 local people are helped through different community services given by evangelical churches in the city. This has created a tremendous chance for churches in the city. Meserete Kiristos and Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus are active in community works. Pastor Desalegn noted, “This is our only hope these days. We need to enter in to the community. The wall should be removed and we should build a community development bridges to share the gospel.”

“In the meantime, one should not forget that in spite of our weakness, Jesus is still building his church. We have seen divine visitations. The best is yet to come!”

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