Christian History Home > Issue 79 > A Leopard Among the Bannas
A Leopard Among the Bannas
Mahay Choramo faced down hardship and violent opposition to the murderous nomads of Ethiopia's southern frontier.
But Mahay and the others stayed, and the Bannas' resistance slowly softened. Several professed Christ, and many others came to rely upon SIM medical assistance, food, and supplies.
Perhaps the most encouraging moment of this several-year saga, at least for Mahay, was the return of a Banna prodigal named Gursho. Gursho had murdered a fellow tribesmen 17 years previously and been sentenced to a lengthy term in prison. There, Christian inmates had led him to Christ, and he had devoted himself to learning Scripture and even Amharic. When Gursho returned, he immediately latched onto Mahay and became his right-hand man. In fact, he literally became Mahay's next-door neighbor.
Thirty years later, Mahay is still going strong. A survey taken in 1991 showed that the evangelical movement as a whole had reached 14 percent of the total population, thanks largely to the Kale Heywat Church (the name means "Word of life") and its zealous evangelists.
Missionary Doug Stinson describes Mahay Choramo in June, 2003 as "an 81-year old evangelist [who] sports a baseball cap and several days' stubble of beard. His shoulders are slumped and one hand rests on the dashboard. He dozes as we travel the rough road. He is going to fetch a blind boy to enroll in the School for the Blind in Wolaitta, Mahay's home area. He says he would have walked the two-day journey to get the boy if I hadn't been going."
Mahay Choramo, a small part of the Wolaitta evangelical movement, is also a large part of the advancement of God's kingdom on the frontiers of southern Ethiopia.
Aaron Belz is a freelance writer and a doctoral student at Saint Louis University, Saint Louis, Missouri.
Copyright © 2003 by the author or Christianity Today/Christian History magazine.
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