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.
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The Women’s Serving Team is hosting a Mugs & Muffins event August 10th from 9:00 – 11:00am in the Fellowship Hall. Christine Leggett will be leading us in a discussion about the spiritual battle we each have with the desires of our heart. It will be a morning of fellowship, rich discussion and encouragement as we come together to study God’s Word. Praying you can join us. Don’t forget your favorite coffee mug! Please RSVP to Christine if you need childcare.
You can go on a mission trip and never leave Albuquerque. International Students Incorporated (ISI) helps international students when they arrive in the U.S. ISI has a chapter at UNM helping pick up students as they arrive at the airport, providing temporary home stays, helping find housing, English as a second language training and friendship partners. A new school year is getting started with hundreds of international students arriving at UNM. Please consider helping in one of the ways noted above. Alternatively, we will be providing lunch for students and volunteers on Wednesday, August 7 (signup sheets will be in the foyer). If you are interested in helping or just want more information please contact Vince Tidwell.
MCC’s Shine Partnership is hosting a dessert night Wednesday, August 14 at 7:00pm at Ashley Procter’s house! Current Shine volunteers, anyone curious about what Shine is, or those interested in becoming a Shine volunteer are invited! Contact Ashley if you have questions or need directions.
Save the Date: MCC Elders are hosting a 4-week Foundations Class starting September 15 and running through the first week in October. This class is designed to better help you get to know MCC - who we are, what we believe and why, and how to get connected. Please sign up with Sarah.