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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Women’s Fellowship Evening Bible Study
Begins September 12th at 5:30. Please bring your bible and your favorite side-dish or dessert and join us! We will discuss Sunday’s Sermon. Contact Elizabeth.
Join us for MCC’s End of Summer Picnic!
Embudo Hills Park in Albuquerque. (Same as last year)
Bring your family, food & drinks, chairs/blanket and lawn games! Water bottles and dessert provided.
Contact Yolette Roybal for more information.
Shine is forming a Cookie Posse! This will be a group of people who would like to bless the staff at A. Montoya with fresh-baked cookies! Each time a staff member reaches into our cookie jar, it'll be like getting a big hug from one of us. Please let Ashley Procter or Marcy Bryant know if you are interested in becoming a part of the Cookie Posse!
Also, Shine is setting up a unique food pantry at A. Montoya! Kids often go to bed without dinner, come to school too late for breakfast, and aren't sure if there will be dinner that night. We have been asked to create a small food pantry at the school that would contain items like tuna packets, apples, macaroni and cheese, Ensure or Boost, peanut butter crackers, nuts, and the like. The children could keep these items in their backpacks so that they would always have something to keep them going. We are working on putting together a list of items, including gluten-free ones, that we would like to stock the pantry with. Please pray about whether you would like to donate items or money to help keep the pantry stocked year-round!