The Gospel Hand-Off
Evangelical churches in Ethiopia grew rapidly after World War II. The congregations related to sim grew steadily, forming one of Ethiopia's largest denominations. The Ethiopian Kale Heywet Church now has more than 7 million believers, and they invited the Caudwells to minister in Basketo. Across Ethiopia, Kale Heywet churches are eager to advance the gospel. Tesfaye Yacob, former general secretary of the Kale Heywet Church, said, "Wherever it is, the church can only be alive when it is engaged in the Great Commission."
Many indigenous missionaries live by subsistence agriculture as they have their whole lives. They raise from their local churches only a tiny fraction of what it costs for Western foreigners to serve in places like Ethiopia.
The Caudwells understood the value of local leadership. They had come to Ethiopia eager to nurture disciples as they worked with the Basketo community to translate the Bible. They hoped local Christians could reach other Basketo people and neighboring regions that have few if any Christians. But now, the Caudwells found themselves pushed to make a leap in that direction far sooner than they had imagined.
The Right Person
Three years before the Caudwells arrived in Ethiopia, a Basketo man named Getachew (Geh-tá-cho) Yohannes had given his life to Christ. After finishing high school, Getachew worked as a government agriculturalist for three years, then returned to school for pastoral training.
If Simon and Lynn were to leave their home and ministry in Basketo, they needed a special person to take over the Basketo translation—someone who knew Basketo, Amharic, English, and theology. But waiting for a Western missionary to get trained in Basketo alone could stall the translation project for years.
When the Caudwells heard about Getachew, they thought he could be a clear choice for the job.
When Simon asked Getachew to take over the Basketo translation, Getachew immediately refused. In fact, he repeatedly told Simon that he would not do translation work at all. "I had no idea about Bible translation. I thought God had called me to work with the youth in my local church," he says. "I had no intention to switch to another job, even in the church."
Then Simon made an offer to Getachew—would Getachew undertake the Basketo translation of the Bible if his church approved? This proved to be more effective.
The church agreed, and so did Getachew. In 2003, he took over the Caudwell's research and started the slow work of translation, working alongside another local Christian, Geresu Kassa.
Getachew had known the Caudwells since early in their ministry in the village. He had already grasped God's call on the church—the whole church—to reach people with the Good News of Jesus and thus to provide that Good News in people's most accessible language. For him, that meant Basketo.
Getachew says, "One day we took the Gospel of Mark to a church conference [where] I was the speaker. I read one chapter in Amharic, and I read the same chapter from the Basketo translation. I saw the response of the people. For the first time my heart was greatly touched.