The epitome of multi-tasking, ‘G’ is constantly on his mobile phones staying connected to Afar Christians or overseeing the running of a not-for-profit organisation, which is one of Serving In Mission's partners in Ethiopia.
Given the enormous geographical spread of the Afar region, ‘G’ and his team are constantly driving great distances form one project to another and from one small group of believers to another. Some Afar believers have never met each other, because they live so far away from each other.
‘G’ is committed to evangelising the Afar. New believers are only baptised after ‘G’ is assured of their salvation and some of them are then invited to discipleship training, which takes place every two months.
These discipleship events are often the first time Afar believers have met each other. After three or four days of intensive training and worship, each person who attends is given a mobile with the Jesus story, the discipleship training material they have studied and the Bible in their language all pre-loaded.
The Afar are primarily semi-nomadic people with an Islamic background. To be an Afar is to be Muslim. Often an Afar Christian is the only one in their immediate family or their tribe.
Many risk their lives simply by being Christian. At best they will be cast out from their family. At worst, they will be killed for their new belief.
So the mobile is their lifeblood and often their only link to the gospel. They can listen to this pre-loaded material and call other Afar Christians, including ‘G’ for support and inspiration.
After a recent training event, ‘G’ received a phone call while on the road. ‘G’ said he couldn't talk because he was driving but the believer didn’t want to end the call until he had told ‘G’ what a wonderful encouragement the discipleship training was for him and how helpful the mobile was to his lonely Christian walk.
There are less than 200 Afar believers but God is building his kingdom through ‘G’ and an evangelist who visit, disciple and encourage new believers as they travel from project to project and village to village.
When ‘G’ is asked what he needs from the church his response is: "Prayer first, people second, money third. We need Christians to commit to pray for this work – I know this area is ripe for the harvest.
"There has never been a time when the Afar are more open to the gospel than now. There has never been more opportunities to impact the afar through life-changing projects but the reality is that the workers are few.
"We need people who will commit their lives to reaching the Afar – Ethiopian Christians as well as foreign missionaries."
Serving In Mission has many opportunities to serve, with development workers, TESL teachers, water engineers, nurses and doctors especially needed to serve alongside our Afar partners.
For peace. The Afar region is again facing the impact of a clan war. A few months ago, 17 people were killed and 38 wounded in tribal clashes. The Afar traditionally kill in retribution for crimes like stealing livestock or food. With famine spreading, it is likely that these clashes will escalate.
For those working among the Afar to have wisdom about how best to communicate the gospel message of forgiveness and love.