by Ron & Sharon Wooten
As we begin this newsletter we want to start with a gracious thank you for your kindness and love for us over the years. You have prayed for us, supported us in so many different ways, and made it possible for us to stay in Missions since January of 1994. For this and so much more, we are more grateful than we could ever say or communicate in words. The best thing we can do is to assure you of our prayers for you and that we will faithfully continue to serve the Lord in the call He has placed upon us.
In this newsletter, we want to take a look into one of the seven countries of East Africa we are presently working in. Ethiopia is very close to our hearts. In July of 1998, I, Ron, had the chance to visit Ethiopia with Rev. Philip List. We met with a group of churches that had been connected with a mainline denomination but had received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and had been barred from that church. They had prayed and searched for a mission to work with and had been approached by several denominations, much larger than IPHC, but each time the Holy Spirit told them “no, this is not the one”.
God is so amazing and He directs the affairs of men. As the leaders of this church group continued in prayer and fasting for direction, God gave one of the leaders a vision. In this vision they were meeting a white man with a map of East Africa. They could see only the man’s back. The man who saw the vision, drew a picture and they brought it out. The outline of the man in the vision, was so similar to Rev. List, with his stature and black curly hair. In the picture the man was wearing a jacket that had a picture of East Africa, and Rev. List had already given them a book of his vision for Ethiopia, and on the front of the book was a picture of the Map they had seen in the vision.
God absolutely confirmed that the IPHC was the church they were supposed to work with. In 1999, Rev. Philip List, Rev. Joe Arthur and the then World Missions Ministries Director, Bishop Donald Duncan traveled to Ethiopia and signed a Merger Agreement between the Grace Church Ethiopia and the IPHC. This group of pastors joined us with around 300 churches and a membership of 186,000 members. This is, by far, the largest work in East Africa, and one of the largest works in the world for the IPHC.
Since 1999, the work in Ethiopia has been through many challenges, some good and some difficult, but they have continued to serve faithfully with us and today the work has grown and matured into over 430 churches and a membership of approximately 380,000. We have ministry all the way from the beautiful capitol city of Addis Ababa, in the middle of Ethiopia, all the way down south to a town close to the Kenya border called Yabello. When we have meetings in Ethiopia in villages or towns, we always have thousands who attend. When we do leadership training, we have as many as 500 pastors and leaders who come. These pictures show some of our meetings.
In the past 18 years, we have helped several of our leaders receive Bible School training and we have been able to help, in a small way, with their infrastructure. But compared to their great numbers, what we have done is only a “drop in the ocean” of what is needed. We have many challenges.
Here are the most urgent needs for Ethiopia:
1. We need a team of prayer warriors who will pray for the work in Ethiopia. Anything we do here, or anywhere else in the world, will never stand unless we have it secured deeply in prayer. Truly it has to be the foundation of any work we do.
2. We need teams of pastors and Bible School teachers who would be willing to come on short-trips and even longer stays to help us establish a systematic training for national pastors on the ground. We are trying now to purchase the video materials for ISOM, a International Bible School curriculum. We need finances for this. We would also like to have gifted and seasoned teachers come and share wisdom with our pastors, women and youth leaders, and members.
3. We desperately need to build infrastructure in the country and could really use some teams and churches who would come on board to help with this. At the present moment, with well over 380,000 members, we only have two permanent buildings in the country, both still in need of being finished. We have churches that seat over 2,000 people, but they are built with temporary materials. We have two key properties, in Addis Ababa and the town of Dilla, where we need to finish one project and start a national headquarters and conference center. Addis Ababa is the capitol of Ethiopia and Dilla is the headquarters of our church in the south.
4. Finally, we need a ministry couple who would serve as resident missionaries for the IPHC in Ethiopia. This would entail helping us to set up and establish a Bible School and help oversee projects and finances.
Ethiopia is truly one of the most beautiful countries in East Africa and has a wonderfully unique culture that is different from other African countries. Let God stir your heart in prayer over this nation. Please help us pray for Ethiopia, that God will meet the needs we have mentioned and would help our leaders in Ethiopia to be encouraged and to continue to carry the mantle for this great IPHC work. If you want to be a part of any of the above work for Ethiopia, please contact us at: email@example.com or at Sharon’s or my Facebook. Also, go to YouTube.com and search “Ron Wooten” to view many videos of our work in Ethiopia and other areas in East Africa.
God bless you and be with you in all you do.
Photo Credit: by Ron & Sharon Wooten