Sabbath, December 27, 2008
“Princes shall come out of Egypt; Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands unto God.” Psalm 68:31.
Every prophecy in the Bible has a time for its literal fulfillment. That is also the case with the prophecy about Ethiopia, which is quoted above. The Reformation message in the Laodicean period is gaining a stronghold in the African continent, and it recently entered this very strategic territory.
Ethiopia is a relatively large country with a population of more than 75 million people. It is located in the northeastern part of the African continent, just 4° north of the equator. About two thirds of the population are Christian, with the remainder being Muslim or adherents of other pagan religions. In the apostolic era, as we read in Acts 8:26-39, the princes of Ethiopia (Biblical Land of Cush) traveled to Jerusalem to worship; and it was thus that Christianity was introduced to Ethiopia, while other parts of the continent remained in darkness. Even today, in the royal museum, one can find old paintings depicting the ministry of Jesus Christ and His disciples in spreading the gospel message.
Politically and culturally, Ethiopia is the only country in Africa that has never been colonized by a foreign power or nation. The Italians attempted to rule Ethiopia but were defeated in the Battle of Adwa. They managed to colonize only the region of Eritrea, which later separated from Ethiopia and became a sovereign state. For many centuries, the kingdom of Ethiopia was very strong and had an advanced system of government. It has a unique national language derived from an Aramaic tribe. English is now being introduced as a foreign language for the sake of communication. Also the staple traditional food is very special and unique.
During my first missionary visit to this country in December 2005, answering the invitation of Brother Gebre Assefa and Brother Sileshe, leader of a large group which had been separated from the Seventh-day Adventist Church for seven years, I was surprised to hear that apart from this group, there are no splinter or independent S.D.A. groups such as we experience frequently in other countries. I was very curious to know the reason for this, because in Ethiopia the S.D.A. Church has the same weaknesses and problems as in other countries. The answer I got is that the Ethiopians are very united and careful in weighing and scrutinizing information and evidence before making decisions.
The group that separated from the S.D.A. Church in 1998 makes up the greater number of members in the whole country and is well organized, with local churches, fields, and a Union. It did not immediately form an organization separate from the S.D.A. Church because of some bitter experiences and persecution by the S.D.A. Church leadership, which reported them to the civil authorities for arrest. This motivated them to investigate various reform groups; and, in that process, while searching on the Internet, they came across our G.C. website, making them aware of the existence of the International Missionary Society, S.D.A. Church, Reform Movement. Therefore, they made a Macedonian call to the General Conference, which commissioned me to go there. After my first visit, a series of intensive seminars were organized. In April 2006, a health and spiritual seminar was conducted by Brethren Idel Suarez, Jr., Tzvetan Petkov, and myself.
Since there are many places to be visited to meet all of the interested souls, more seminars and spiritual meetings are needed in different parts of the country. Most of the leaders have shown a positive response to the Reform Movement, and we are working to reach as many as possible of those who separated from the S.D.A. Church, numbering well over 50,000. This means that we have to consider obtaining places of worship, because the S.D.A. Church claims the properties the groups use for worship services, which originally belonged to them.
Considering the wonderful way in which God is working to bless His children in Ethiopia, it is high time for His faithful children worldwide to be aware of the time in which we are living and share in God’s work. Ethiopia’s hand is now stretched out; will you make a special sacrifice and contribute to their blessings? May God reward your generosity.
–Parmenas N. Shirima