Ethiopia enjoys the rare distinction of never having been colonised. It is also the original home of the coffee tree, and today boasts some of the world's finest quality coffees.
Ethiopia’s rugged mountains and isolated river valleys make it one of the most breathtaking nations on the continent to visit. But even more beautiful than its landscapes are the Ethiopian people.
The entrance of SIM missionaries into Ethiopia in the 1920s is a story of miracles and heroism. When war erupted in Southern Ethiopia in 1937, the missionaries had to leave 75 newly baptized believers.
When the Italian army was driven out in 1941, the missionaries returned to find thousands of new believers. They recognised the great need for discipleship and training, but ninety percent of the converts were illiterate. This was the foundation of the Ethiopian Kale Heywet Church (EKHC), which today numbers more than 4,300,000 baptized believers in 5,017 congregations.
They have their own mission school and missionary outreach, ministries to human needs and development projects, Bible schools, theological colleges, women's and children's work, urban ministries program, and a literature publication centre.
SIM missionary numbers were severely reduced during 1974-1991 when a Marxist government was in control. During that regime, Christians suffered persecution and martyrdom, but the church was strengthened and refined. The present government has granted religious freedom, which offers many opportunities for both SIM and EKHC to openly evangelize and disciple.
There is official certification for SIM, but procurement of visas/work permits continues to be a challenge. The EKHC/SIM Memorandum of Agreement has brought the mission and the church into a renewed relationship of planning together. The EKHC continues to recognize the tremendous need for discipleship in the face of legalism and false doctrines and as it answers the call to foreign missions.
While still serving in church planting and church growth in the traditional south, SIM is finding new opportunities for ministry to Orthodox in the north and outreach to Muslims. Also, the war in Southern Sudan has forced thousands of Sudanese across the border into camps in Ethiopia.
SIM Ethiopia is working closely with churches of the Sudan Interior Church (SIC) in two camps to train and disciple church leaders and to promote literacy and education, particularly as many believers begin to return to Southern Sudan and their former homes.
SIM Partner church
SIM’s partner church, EKHC, which means "Word of Life" in the Amharic language, grew out of the early missionary efforts. On its return to Ethiopia in 1945 following World War II, SIM found that the church in Ethiopia had grown and multiplied in their absence.
The churches formed an association in 1956 called the Fellowship of Evangelical Believers together with believers from the Baptist General Conference mission efforts. In 1974 the congregations that relate to SIM formed their own denomination called the Ethiopian Kale Heywet Church (EKHC).
Today, the EKHC numbers more than 4,300,000 baptized believers in 5,740 congregations. They have their own missions school and missionary outreach, ministries to human needs and development projects, Bible schools, theological colleges, women's and children's work, urban ministries program, and a literature publication centre.
It has its own outreach programs, HIV and AIDS work, medical work, various development projects, one orphanage, and a literature publication center. SIM partners with EKHC in some of these ministries.
The EKHC embraces about 38 regional autonomous groups of churches that have formed along language and ethnic lines. About seven zones have been established that bring these autonomous groups into a closer relationship. These groups support a central office in Addis Ababa which assists them in fellowship, nurture and outreach and in representation to the government.
SIM participates with some EKHC theological education and ministry programs, consisting of 127 Amharic Bible schools, two English diploma-level Bible colleges, and the degree-granting institution, the Evangelical Theological College in Addis Ababa.
For more information:
CIA World Fact book https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/et.html
Lonely Planet http://www.lonelyplanet.com/ethiopia
Travel health http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/default.aspx