He looks more like a construction worker than a business owner; more like a hard-working rancher than probably anything else.
But make no mistake; when he smiles, it is warm, and rich, and genuine. And he has a gentleness and a humility about him that make him undeniably likable, even across the barriers of language.
Pastor Epheson Erballo was born into a family of Christ-followers, in the Ethiopian village of Wolyta. I had the special privilege to meet with this dear brother on Wednesday, while I was here in Awassa. He travelled here to take care of some business, and especially to make himself available to me.
Epheson is the fourth of six children. He has three brothers and two sisters. Although he has believed in Christ for about as long as he can remember, he was given a special desire from the Lord around age 15. At that time, he sensed a burden to minister to others.
He began to share the gospel readily with friends, and anyone else. As people came to Christ, he began to disciple them. Within a short time, he was leading Bible studies, and the number of those in his care grew. Soon, he found himself leading a church. He would shepherd and pastor this group of believers for 22 years. In 2009, his congregation was officially organized as a church, and he was ordained.
He continued to pastor there until 2013. It was then that the Lord moved him and his family to Turmi, in the hopes of church planting and reaching a poor, desperate people there.
The work in Turmi is growing, but it is not without colossal challenges. The region is a desert, and food sources are scarce. Epheson and his family (with four children) have to work hard just to survive. And it is the same with everyone there. You cannot simply go and grab something from the market. Food has to travel just to get to them.
And if the physical challenges are great, the spiritual challenges are even greater.
The tribal people there are very connected. The community sticks together, and is led by chiefs. And their beliefs are animistic - not so much a formal religion, but a system of worship and fear of spirits and gods. If a member of the community professes faith and begins to follow Jesus Christ, then they are threatened by their family and friends. If this does not dissuade them, then they are often beaten. Still, the gospel is setting captives free, and there is now a growing church among the Turmi, where Epheson and his family love and shepherd them.
This is not an easy life, but it is the life of great reward.
When you ask Epheson about his personality, and the kinds of things that he likes to do, he says, “I’m naturally curious; learning and teaching are who I am.”
Meeting Epheson, I do not doubt this. Nor do I doubt that he has learned many things in his life, and is probably capable of doing nearly anything asked of him.
Please continue to pray for our dear brother, and for all of his family and ministry. We will be sharing more information and prayer requests in the future.
And praise our strong Savior together with us, that I got to connect with Epheson during this trip, and that we have the distinct privilege to be able to partner with this faithful, humble man.
Visit our Path Three Missions page for information on how MCC supports Pastor Erballo in Ethiopia.
We are excited to announce that we will have an in-person worship service outside at 8:30am in the MCC parking lot! We can’t wait to see you! In addition, our Sunday live-stream (on Facebook and Instagram) will move to 10:00am for the foreseeable future for those who are not be able to join us.
We’ve chosen for our service to happen outdoors as there are still a number of requirements and protocol for indoor gatherings. So, we are not inviting you to join us indoors at this time. Instead, come for our outdoor gathering, or continue to join us online later from home.
Please read the Guidelines for Gathering to Worship Together at MCC in its entirety so that you know what to expect when you come to our outdoor service. This will help you and those around you navigate a very new situation, hopefully in a way that is as seamless as possible. We believe that our unity will be expressed and strengthened as we serve one another in Christ this week so join us in extending grace to each other, amid our differing perspectives, and different views about how to live in this time.
“... submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
“Outdo one another in showing honor.”
“By this all men will know that you are My disciples,
if you have love for one another.”
Please know that we are making every effort for this gathering to be in full compliance with the protocols given by authorities. No single plan for our meeting will ever be the perfect solution in any one person’s eyes. We will all be making compromises. But as we defer to these guidelines set up by our elders and leadership, we will be serving our fellow believers, honoring Christ as best we can, and providing for a beautiful expression of worship to happen together.
Please stay home if any of the following apply to you:
- You are immunocompromised.
- You are feeling ill (running a fever, coughing, or showing other signs of sickness)
Please don’t put yourself or others at risk. Thank you for staying home and staying safe, because we love you!