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What’s Different in Ethiopia?

We’ve been talking all things PLI and Ethiopia with PLI’s international director Dr. Scott Rische. (A Look Inside the Training of 20,000 in Ethiopia and PLI’s Beginning in Ethiopia.) Today, I want to lift out the conversation around what’s different. Why is the Gospel spreading so quickly there? Why is there so much resistance in North America? (I added numbers to the conversation below to allow for easy reference.)

Before, we begin… If you’ve been having your own “mirror moment” as Scott called it two weeks ago, let me simply say: You need to get a team started in D2MC Des Moines this November. Email Raechel today and tell her: “I’m not sure how but I think our team needs to be “in” and become a bigger part of the solution in the U.S.”


Scott, I want to talk about differences!

#1 – There are simply large numbers of Christians who are willing to be missionaries in Ethiopia. They’re not content to be receivers or consumers; they are willing to be missionaries.

You and Gail remember Jakob. We had dinner with him just before we left to come home last week. He just came back from sharing the Gospel in Somalia where the Muslims are threatening the Christians. Lots of young people are willing to risk their lives for the Gospel.

In the U.S. we rightly agonize over our difficulties, but there’s a different type of Christian that we see in Ethiopia. They know they’re sent…just as Jesus was sent by the Father.

So many in the PLI family celebrate the rapid growth of the church in Africa and equally grieve its very rapid decline in the U.S. What’s different? Let’s make a list.

#2 – Large parts of the population in Ethiopia have never heard the Gospel before and they’ve never experienced the church at its worst!

And in the U.S. everyone has heard the Gospel…or rather…thinks they’ve heard the Gospel and most have experienced the church at its worst!

#3 –  In Ethiopia, it’s spiritually “alive.” 

–They still think of spiritual deities. Good and bad ones. They exist. 

–They are a fear- and power-based culture. They not only believe that those powers exist but they fear them. They want to reconcile them. 

–So, when they hear about Jesus for the first time, they’ve never heard about those spiritual powers being addressed in this way. Suddenly it’s not oppressive. They don’t need to make sacrifices to the deities. Jesus is the sacrifice already made. 

–They don’t need to complete rituals that only create more oppression. They’ve experienced bondage and fear. Jesus frees people from bondage and fear. Christianity, if rightly shared, is freedom. It’s grace! Not oppression

We’re all more sinful than we’ve allowed ourselves to imagine and we’re also more loved by God through Jesus than we’ve allowed ourselves to imagine!

#4 – In the U.S. someone that is struggling sees many different sources of “hope.” You don’t have that in Ethiopia.

#5 – Since large numbers of people are in a place of struggle, they are open to the promises of the Gospel.

#6 – The missionaries, the people that bring the Good News, are usually pretty phenomenal people, not “cultural Christians.” They’re not judgmental. People experience Christians in a very positive way.

They experience the church at its best and not at its worst. In the United States we’re very individualistic.

#7 – Ethiopia is very communal. Community minded. When a person of influence comes to faith in Jesus they tend to bring much of the rest of the family/community with them. One influential person that starts to believe impacts so many others.

There’s a clear Gospel response oftentimes.

#8 – There’s a willingness. An obedience to the Great Commission to go and share the Gospel. Sometimes at great risk. It’s like the Mekane Yesus leaders told you: We think we read the Bible differently. When Jesus said that we should go and make disciples we believe that He meant that we should go and make disciples.


So, what’s stirring in you after reading these last few blogs? Share it with us in the comments. Then, share this blog with 12 people your leadership circle. 

If you or your congregation would like to give to our international training, please contact Rika or click here.

One Response

  1. Christine Jubel Homan says:

    Extremely informative for all partners in the PLI ministry.

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