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‘I’m so excited to see what the next 15 years will hold’

As Bingham Academy in Ethiopia prepares to reopen on September 22, SIM UK worker Theresa Ebrahim-Adem says she has never felt “so at home” anywhere else. 

Bingham Academy

This year, Theresa celebrates 15 years serving at the Christian school, based in Addis Ababa, which teaches the children of mission workers as well as the international community and Ethiopian families.

Theresa admits she was heartbroken when as COVID-19 struck and Bingham closed and went online, she and husband Aki took the difficult decision for Theresa to return to the UK with their two daughters.

“With so much of the future unknown, the hardest thing was to be separated from Aki, who remained in Ethiopia to care for his family and to continue mentoring young men in the community,” she recalls.

Theresa and Aki with their daughters Eliana and Feben

However, Theresa says she counts each hard moment she has experienced during her 15 years at Bingham as “pure joy, especially when I hold them up again all the ways that God has used me and blessed me in my work here.

“It’s very difficult to try and express how much I have learned from my time in Ethiopia,” she adds. “It is a country that has captured me and made me fall in love with it. It can be a frustrating place to live during the tough days, but looking back over the past 15 years, I can see God at work in many ways in my life and how he spent a lot of time putting me in his fire to refine me and challenge me.

“Working at Bingham Academy is demanding at times, but I’ve never felt so at home anywhere else. Teaching there is how teaching should be: We get to love our kids and help shape them the way I believe God intended teaching to be. 

“I am overwhelmed with God’s love for me and the privilege he has given me to work with him in Addis Ababa. I’ve had the honour of been able to speak into the lives of my students and given them the opportunity to search the scripture themselves and ask the hard questions.

“It’s been amazing to witness their faith journeys and see God pursuing and loving them. It has been a reward in itself to see students come to faith and grow in their relationship with our Lord and saviour.

“I continue to feel so blessed by God that I get to spend my days doing so many of the things that I just love doing: teaching history, hanging out with teenagers, talking about God and his amazing love for us; challenging my students to really think through the truth of the gospel; cheering our school teams on in their sports competitions, and all of it in a country that tests my faith and how I live it out each day.”

However, along with the blessings come some deep struggles and for many years, Theresa needed to trust and rely on God as she experienced the ups and downs of working as part of an educational and outreach project caring for Muslim boys from the surrounding neighbourhood.

Some of the Horizon Project boys

“Over the years, my ministry with the Horizon Project challenged me to recognise my role in prayer and service,” admits Theresa, who is sent by Hamilton Baptist Church, Scotland.

Bingham’s vision statement is ‘Teaching Truth, Equipping Generations, Impacting the world for God’s Glory’ and Theresa says she is grateful to all her UK supporters who have faithfully prayed for the work of the school since she arrived in Ethiopia in 2005.

“To have the opportunity to share in this vision and see it being lived out is a privilege for me, but also answered prayers for all my supporters, who have prayed for the work of Bingham for many years.”

During her time at Bingham, Theresa is thankful to God for providing teaching staff from all over the world – from Bolivia to Finland – and to have the privilege of witnessing numerous students grappling with God’s truth and choosing to believe. 

“I’ve watched them grow from little elementary students to adults and my previous students are now between the ages of 18 and 34, who are living all over the world,” she says.

“They are artists, medical professionals, teachers, government advisers, church planters, missionaries, and parents making an impact in their communities for God’s glory.  

“Seeing this web go out from Bingham all over the world gives me such a clear picture of how God’s body works and how he uses all of our gifts to fulfil his great plan to make disciples of all nations. By faithfully supporting me in my role at Bingham, we are all part of our God’s body, working to expand his kingdom.”

Looking ahead, Theresa is convinced God has called her to serve for many years to come: “There is a personal cost to following God’s calling to serve at Bingham, but I can also say it is worth it and I’m so excited to see what the next 15 years will hold .”

Overall, I am one of many people that would have a much worse life without you in it. You challenged me, taught me, showed me Jesus and became a friend. You shaped my studies, my politics, my faith and much more. I feel so blessed to have known you and hope my son (and any other brothers/sisters that come along) will have a teacher as impactful as you.

One of Theresa’s former students

By Kerry Allan

Prayer points

  • Pray for the school leadership team as it works through how school will work this year and that the Department of Education in Ethiopia will allow face-to-face teaching in the mornings from the end of September. 
  • Praise God that Bingham is fully staffed this year.
  • Pray for Ethiopia as COVID-19 cases increase daily and political unrest continues.

This was posted on 4 September 2020.

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