Advance in Ethiopia

Advance in Ethiopia is Advancing!

I first heard about Advance when I came to Birmingham for the 2018 Advance Summit, a conference on evangelism and equipping people to share the gospel. Whilst at the Summit I learned more about Advance groups, this tool to grow in evangelism, and I knew I wanted to take it to my home country of Ethiopia. I had the chance to talk with Ben Jack and shared with him my hopes about Advance, and in the following months we arranged to get the Advance group mentoring guide translated into Amharic (the primary language in Ethiopia) and I invited Ben to come to Ethiopia and see what God was doing on the ground – an invitation which he accepted!

Ben joined me in Ethiopia the following year and after an exciting time together we knew it was time to build on what God was doing here. We got the Advance mentoring guide translated and agreed that the best way to introduce Advance was through the local church. The next step, therefore, was to organise a training event for leaders and evangelists – something accessible to anyone who had a real heart for evangelism and for sharing the gospel. At this training we launched the Advance material and saw 450 people trained in evangelism, sharing the vision for Advance and exploring how they too might take it to their churches and launch their own groups in their own context. Following the success of this we ended up working with the local Evangelical Alliance, meaning that we now have a permanent trainer in evangelism.

After that initial launch,  various church leaders shared with us that Advance had come at the right time, and, in particular, it became clear that Advance was beginning to bear much fruit in the rural areas. These rural locations are often overlooked by the church for evangelistic training and provisions, either receiving minimal materials, or having materials provided that are not particularly suitable for those in a rural context. However, the content, layout, and structure of Advance meant it could step into that gap perfectly.

In January 2022, we started the year with Ben joining us again for a day of training and teaching for Christians who long to share the gospel. This one-day event was amazing, we had over 200 people join us and receive the Advance material.

I knew we needed to spread the work of Advance more fully across Ethiopia, and so began to work with a friend and pastor, Worku Tesfaye, to see it develop. He now oversees and coordinates the training, in cooperation with the Elshaddai Television Network (a non-profit organisation that seeks to provide 24/7 Christian teaching). Through this partnership, along with many churches, we were able to provide Advance training and mentoring in 6 different locations: Bahir Dar city, Adama city, Harar city, Buta Jira city, Gondar city and Addis Abeba. Pastor Worku shared the below reflection:

Over the course of these 6 training events around Ethiopia we saw over 450 people attend where they received the Advance material and were delivered training and equipping in their evangelism. We had various people join us with many saying they felt more empowered and prepared to step up their evangelistic work in the church. It’s clear that there is a demand for this across Ethiopia!

Something that encouraged me from these training events was not just the positive feedback, but how widespread this training has been across the country – for example, Gondar is in the far north of Ethiopia whilst the city of Harar is in far east, with almost 900km between them! It just shows how much Advance is spreading!

God willing, we will have a new Advance training program starting from September 2022 and have dreams to see it used more widely in universities, high schools and prisons. We also long to see more denominations across Ethiopia using Advance in their own churches for equipping in evangelism and have recently been approached by one of the biggest Ethiopian denominations who have shown interest in exploring Advance! Following the success of the Amharic translation in rural communities, in 2023 we hope to have the material translated into more Ethiopian languages so that it can be more accessible in those often-forgotten places and communities that God is working in.

Ethiopia is the second most populated African country, with over 115 million people. We want to continue to use Advance and see it spread further across this nation. I am so thankful to the Advance team in the UK for their support and I am excited for all that is to come with Advance in Ethiopia.

Written by Abera Habte, Advance Ambassador in Ethiopia.