Faith Serves Ethiopia
How did we get involved with mission in Ethiopia?
Faith Presbyterian Church has always been active outside our four walls, locally and globally. How did we decide to support Ethiopia through mission? I’m not sure if we made that decision, or if God’s spirit moved through our congregation in mysterious ways. In 2005, Ethiopian Orthodox Priest Abba Tetembe contacted Faith church asking if we would support their congregation by providing space for worship. Session, our governing body of the church, voted to approve the request, and subsequently Abba and his congregation began to worship in Link Hall each Sunday morning 7- 10 a.m in 2005. In 2009, World Vision Church Relations Advisor Andy Smith visited Faith church to invite us to be part of Sacramento Hope. He visited several churches in the greater Sacramento area inviting them to join Sacramento Hope, a city-wide effort to work cooperatively in support of an Area Development Program in Southern Ethiopia. The name of the ADP was Abaya, just South of the small town Dilla, Ethiopia. Evidently, God had a plan for Faith church and Ethiopia. Session authorized funding for 3 Session members to visit the Abaya ADP to assess the project and to come back with recommendations to the Mission ministry, Session and our congregation.
In March, 2010, our first exploratory Vision team; Jeff Chapman, Walt McDaniel and Maria Rodriguez visited the Abaya ADP. They returned and shared their experience with our congregation and Session. Session voted enthusiastically to become part of Sacramento Hope and to support the Abaya ADP. Session adopted a cov·e·nant [kuhv–uh-nuhnt] Ecclesiastical; a solemn agreement between the members of a church to act together in harmony with the precepts of the gospel. (See our covenant below).
We turned our global mission attention to the Abaya ADP. Faith’s World Vision Child Sponsorship Ambassador Donna Touros began working with our congregation to focus sponsoring children in the ADP. The Faith congregation embraced the opportunity. Our mission ministry did a fundraiser for a water project in 2010, and collected $19,000 in contributions from the congregation to build a 6,604 US gallon water reservoir with one distribution point that serves approximately 2,000 members of a woreda (neighborhood community).
In 2011, Faith held its first Hope Sunday with several information and child sponsorship displays with representation by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. In 2011, Faith raised $33,000 to contribute to a school block, that consists of 3 classroom, holding about 80 students each.
In 2012, Faith sent another Vision team to see the progress in the ADP. Jon Cash, Jenny May, David Nash, Natalie Reyes, Maria Rodriquez (also was on the 2010 Vision trip), and Pastor Jim Zazzera returned and reported on the accelerated rate the ADP was developing the Abaya area. Faith raised another $8,000 for the World Vision Horn of Africa Famine Relief effort. We held our second Faith Hope Sunday that also included the Ethiopian Orthodox Church congregation, who made our congregation authentic Ethiopian food, a formal coffee ceremony and performed music and dance in worship.
In November 2012, World Vision Donor Relations Field Liaison Tamiru Chewaka visited the Faith congregation to share how God is at work through World Vision and Faith church in Ethiopia. Tamiru served as our guide, interpreter and spiritual leader when Vision teams visited Abaya. While he was here the 2012 Vision team arranged to take Tamiru to the Golden Gate Bridge and walked across and back fulfilling one of his lifetime dreams.
In 2014, Pastor Jeff Chapman led a Vision team back to the Abaya ADP, including Sandi Bilbo, Isabel Chapman, Tracy Cumming, Mule Gabrewahid, David Nash, Natalie Reyes and Kitty Tatro.
In 2016, Pastor Brett Shoemaker led another Vision team including Sandi Bilbo, Sue Kim, Becca Little, Paul and Cathy Philleo, Tammi Whitted. David Nash traveled solo later in the year and visited the ADP a third time.
How does the ADP operate?
World Vision empowers the local community by providing leadership and support through the funding of child sponsorship and project contributions. WV hires and trains people from the local community to do the development work. The philosophy is that if they build it, they “own” it. They build it, they maintain it. Many organizations that do mission work in nations like Ethiopia often build a well and leave. Within a short period of time the wells go unmaintained and stop providing water simply because the organization doesn’t engage with the community by getting them involved training, building and maintaining the well. World Vision assesses the needs of the community with grassroot members of the local government, informal and spiritual leaders. Once the assessment is complete, and prioritized, hiring and training and implementation of the program begins. The ADP is set up in 3 phases. Phase 1 World Vision does the assessment, hiring and building trust within the community. The Abaya ADP is now in phase 2 of the program, the development phase. Phase 3 is the exit phase, turning all leadership to the community that is now self sustainable. The Abaya ADP is on an accelerated rate completing many projects well ahead of schedule and most likely will be completed in less than the expected 15 years.
What progress has been made?
The ADP started its interventions with the overall program goal “to enhance the livelihood security at the household level on a sustainable basis“ in the ADP’s operational area since October 01, 2008. In the program, there were five sectors (a) Education, b) Food Security, c) Health & HIV/AIDS and d)WASH-Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) and e) Sponsorship and Program Management (this mainly focuses on sponsorship activities and effective program implementation) projects. The ADP may continue up to three phases (15 years). Project beneficiaries especially children that had no access to safe drinking water have enjoyed the potable water. Field surveys made in the three villages proved that children’s health has improved and the time they used to spend to trek long distances to fetch river water which is brown in color and dirty is being saved for group study, play, school, attend Bible study and Sunday schools.
The project community is very grateful for the generous donors who have supported the project and sponsor ~4,000 children. The community would like the support to continue so that expansion of services in other areas would be possible. We often think of World Vision as developing water, sanitation, hygiene, schools and clinic projects, however World Vision is also training the local community on well maintenance, health care for people and livestock, and also spiritual leaders. WV provides training for the Christian leadership in the ADP to better equip them in leading worship and praise and the Gospel of Christ. There is formal seminary for Christian Witness Focal Persons in all WV ADPs. The program is known as Staff Nurturing Committee that oversee spiritual matters in all WV ADPs and Program Offices that supervise all ADPs.
For more information on the progress of the ADP, see the links below at the bottom of this page for the annual reports.
Where do we go from here?
The ADP staff prayerfully requests continued support by Faith church in continuing child sponsorship and funding water projects. The Faith church Mission ministry and the Abaya Steering committee will be prayerfully discerning how we as a church can continue our support. Thank you for your continued child sponsorship’s and contributions to the program that builds sustainability and changes lives in an entire community.
Faith’s Covenant to the People of Abaya
The people of Faith Presbyterian Church have devoted considerable prayer, exploration, reflection and discussion to discern how we are being called to serve God’s people beyond the boundaries of our own nation. This process leads us now to affirm that God has called us into this covenant relationship with World Vision and the people in the Abaya region of Ethiopia.
Through this covenant relationship, the people of Faith Presbyterian Church, working with World Vision, will share God’s considerable blessings by encouraging and supporting a sustained physical, social and spiritual transformation of the people of the Abaya Area Development Project (ADP). Through this relationship we are confident that God will also be at work transforming the hearts and minds of the people of Faith Church.
Time Commitment: Knowing that sustainable holistic transformation takes considerable time, we are committed to a long-term relationship that that will be evaluated by Session annually.
Prayer Commitment: We will regularly pray, both corporately and individually, for the people of the Abaya region, the churches and church leadership, and the leadership of World Vision. Likewise, we will ask that the people of Abaya and World Vision regularly pray for the people and leadership of Faith Presbyterian Church.
Education Commitment: We will find regular opportunities to learn about Ethiopia and the people of Abaya, their needs, their culture, and their history.
Listening Commitment: We are committed to regular communication with World Vision and the leadership of the Abaya ADP. We will participate in the roles of listener, learner, servant, sponsor and friend, leaving the project leadership and management to the community and ADP staff.
Child Sponsorship Commitment: The World Vision Child Sponsorship program is the primary basis by which the development programs in Abaya are funded. Our leadership will therefore regularly promote opportunities for the people of Faith to sponsor children living in the Abaya region.
Special Project Funding Commitment: As a part of the annual budgeting process, our Session will prayerfully consider opportunities to fund special projects based on the needs identified by World Vision leadership and the priorities established for the communities of Abaya. We all will seek the Spirit’s leading as we seek to identify new and creative ways that we may joyfully raise funds for special projects that will benefit the people of Abaya.
Vision Trip Commitment: To be in relationship with the people of Abaya requires that we establish a sustained personal connection. We are therefore committed to regularly sending vision teams to Abaya. We will also seek opportunities to host Abaya leadership visits to Sacramento.
Evaluation Commitment: Given the long-term nature of this commitment, it is essential that we regularly evaluate the results of this partnership. Of greatest importance will be to develop an understanding of how we see God at work through this relationship. We will also assess how well all parties are responding to each aspect of our covenant. The primary intent of this evaluation is to discern how God is calling us to grow the relationship with our Sisters and Brothers in Christ.
Please also see the following links:
Other Faith projects in Ethiopia:
Faith Church sponsors Presbyterian Church (USA) missionaries Michael and Rachel Weller who have been serving in Ethiopia for over 25 years. http://www.presbyterianmission.org/ministries/missionconnections/weller-michael-and-rachel/