On his third annual trip to Ethiopia, One Challenge USA Director Bob Rasmussen had the opportunity to partner in the training of 108 recent graduates from the Vision Leadership Institute. Training future church leaders all over the world, many might say, is the ‘bread and butter’ of OC’s ministry. One Challenge’s vision is “healthy churches working together to reach all nations.” A critical part of the effectiveness of this vision is to help coach and train healthy and effective church leaders.
This graduation from the two-year program is the vision of Seattle-area pastor Girma Desalegn, an Ethiopian, to provide effective training for church leaders in Ethiopia. “My going to Ethiopia now is a fulfillment of his dream of bringing quality Biblical training to Ethiopian leaders who would never have a chance to attend a Bible School,” Bob says. “The graduates were so proud of their accomplishment, and I think at least a million photos were taken.” Many of these students, some in their 70s, never graduated from high school. Now they have a diploma, and feel better qualified to serve in their roles as evangelists, womens’ leaders, elders, or pastors.
Bob, special guest speaker, training of trainers
This graduation is just the beginning of the training and mission in Ethiopia. While in country, the team Bob served with gave three days of training in three cities. Bob taught on Character and Integrity, and Missions and Evangelism. Other topics include Systematic Theology, Leadership, and Bible Survey. Students come from miles around to attend.
Ongoing training by local leaders
Local trainers, hand-picked and known to Pastor Girma, continue the training on a weekly basis throughout the year. They give exams, keep attendance, and facilitate discussions with the students. The vision of this country goes beyond healthy churches to humanitarian efforts. One of the translators at the training shared her vision to help women become empowered for ministry, assisting aging women to die with dignity rather than having to resort to begging, and working against the source of homeless children by offering training to parents. The Lord is moving through the vision of Ethiopians taking up the call to serve the peoples around them.
Exploring training immigrant leaders in U.S.
Bob believes this kind of ministry should be explored by church leaders in America. “Our cities contain immigrant leaders like Girma who have a vision for their homelands. Our evangelical churches contain men and women who have received training under good preaching, Sunday school classes, and self-study. By praying for, and looking for these immigrant leaders, American Christians can help fulfill their vision, and find a meaningful outlet for long-term ministry as well.”
How to pray:
- Pray for the continued training as new students from the three new cities are added.
- Pray for expanding vision and additional cities.
- Pray for the ongoing nature of this project: for many more Ethiopians to have the opportunity to attend the Vision Leadership Institute.