Guest / Limited Access /

In remote northwest Ethiopia, 500 small churches have been built in the last 14 months. The remarkable church growth—from just seven in early 2004—in impoverished Benishangul-Gumuz province comes from the extraordinary collaboration of a government official, an association of Ethiopian evangelical denominations, and the energies of an 84-year-old American pastor.

The American minister is Charles Blair, for more than 50 years pastor of Denver's Assemblies of God megachurch, Calvary Temple. Blair heads the Charles E. Blair Foundation, which has worked in Ethiopia since 1990, when the Communist government fell. The foundation trains church leaders and raises money to support pastors in the poor nation (nationally, per-capita GDP is approximately $700).

Talargie Yeshidenberb was the national representative of the Blair Foundation in Ethiopia. Two years ago, Yeshidenberb, a veterinarian, looked up from his desk in the capital city, Addis Ababa. In the doorway was Yaregal Aysheshim, president of the Benishangul-Gumuz province and one of the few Christians in government.

Blair said Aysheshim was impressed by the transforming power of Christianity, and so "challenged us to help the Evangelical Churches Fellowship of Ethiopia begin 1,000 churches in that many villages in his province, before his current term of office ends this September."

Aysheshim said the government would donate the land for any church started in the province that reached 25 baptized members. The constitution respects freedom of religion.

"This is remarkable and probably possible only because of the region's isolation," said Joanne Brant, a longtime missionary in Ethiopia and now an executive at Serving in Mission. "The Ethiopians have a saying: 'You don't ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedNancy Writebol: Ebola Is a Spiritual Battle
Subscriber Access Only Nancy Writebol: Ebola Is a Spiritual Battle
The missionary nurse who survived the deadly virus says medicine alone won't cure West Africa.
TrendingMark Driscoll Resigns from Mars Hill
Mark Driscoll Resigns from Mars Hill
"I do not want to be the source of anything that might detract from our church’s mission."
Editor's PickA Word Can Be Worth a Thousand Pictures
A Word Can Be Worth a Thousand Pictures
Why the pulpit—and not the screen—still belongs at the center of our churches.
Comments
Christianity Today
Culture Allies
hide thisJune June

In the Magazine

June 2005

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.