There are over sixty references to Ethiopia in the Bible, and Christianity there goes back to the days of Philip in Acts 8.  But the modern story of the Ethiopian church also sounds like readings from the book of Acts, especially among the Wallamos.  In 1927, the Sudan Interior Mission (SIM) sent missionaries to evangelize this wild tribe, worshipers of Satan.  During its annual “Passover” the Wallamos sacrificed a bull to Satan, sprinkling its blood on the doorposts of their houses and serving its raw flesh to every member of their families.  The atmosphere smelled of demons.

After several years a small church was established, but missionary labor was interrupted when Mussolini invaded Ethiopia in 1935.  When Italian troops reached tribal areas, they demanded SIM leave.  The missionaries met a final time with Wallamos believers.  When they had arrived, not a single Wallamo had known of Christ.  Now after nine years, forty-eight native believers gathered around them.  The little church worshiped, wept, and shared the Lord’s Supper.  Then the twenty-six SIM missionaries boarded army trucks for evacuation.  On Aril 17, 1937, their first day without missionary support, the little Wallamo church found itself having to stand on its own feet.  “We knew God was faithful,” wrote missionary Raymond Davis, “that He was able to preserve what He had begun among the Wallamos.  But still we wondered – if we ever come back, what will we find?”


The invasion of Ethiopia marked the beginnings of World War II, and it wasn’t until July 4, 1943, that the missionaries returned.  What they found almost defies belief.  The Italian soldiers had tried to stamp out the small church.  Church leaders were given one hundred lashes, and one in particular was given four hundred.  They were unable to lie on their backs for months.  Several had died.  One of them, Wandaro, beaten in public, preached to the crowds between lashes.  Another, Toro, stripped naked in the marketplace and flogged with a hippo-hide whip, bravely shouted out the Gospel.  Conversions multiplied, and tribal villages began sending missionaries to other villages.    Instead of forty-eight believers, the returning missionaries now found eighteen thousand.

That story is such an amazing one.  Isn’t that exactly what happened in the book of Acts.  Persecution seemed to make the church stronger.  I am amazed with that story and also a little embarrassed.  What would I have done in the same circumstances?  I hope I would stand true and do the very same thing.  But I also know that I don’t like discomfort too much.  I like my air condition and many of the other things that come with living in the United States.  How about you?  What would you have done?  We are currently in a brand-new sermon series that we began last Sunday and will continue through most of October.  It is called, “Breaking Point: Finding God in a Cold and Dark World.”  We are looking at the prophet Habakkuk and finding to living in these current times.  God had an answer for Habakkuk and I believe He has an answer for us as well.  So, make plans now and join us for this very important teaching series.

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