Our Ethiopia project has been our largest partnership over the last 10 years. It began with church planting at its core, and that continues today while some other really large projects are ongoing as well. Because of their work, and our giving, in this region where there were previously zero churches and so much need, there are now 135 churches, 113 of which are now fully self-sustaining…meaning that when they were getting started, we paid the church planter’s salary and expenses and gave resources so that they could serve the poor; but now as the churches have taken off, they are providing those resources and are fully self-sustaining without us. The 22 other churches that are not self-sustaining are the newest church plants, over the last 2 years, which are all focused on one tribe called the Gumuz, a very isolated tribe in the northwestern part of the country. We were the first to take the gospel to this group, and these churches are just taking off in these tiny little villages.
Today, where there were zero Christ-followers, there are 3,600 new believers worshipping in these 22 churches. In 2016 alone, 681 people in this people group began following Jesus—348 men and 333 women!
In addition to these churches, we also support three widow and elderly care centers where 170 elderly come each day for two meals. These are meals they would not get if not for the care centers. Chase Oaks is the sole financial provider for these meals. Our partner Worku would like us to help him start an additional widow care center to help the poorest of the poor, so we’ll be adding that into our budget for this year.
The Primary school in Gondar that they have built, thanks to your generosity to the Global Fund, not only provides quality education, but also generates income designed to make this whole Ethiopia project sustainable. Worku is expecting the school attendance to reach 1,000 next year, and that will generate enough income to make the whole project self-sustaining—meaning, they will not be dependent on our continued giving, and the projects and churches will continue to expand.
Chase Oaks Church has made a significant difference in northwest Ethiopia over the past 10 years by remaining true to our Global Strategy of working through indigenous leaders. We hope to continue our strong relationship with Worku and others in the years to come to see the Gospel change this part of Africa one person at a time.