Training Leaders for a Church in Exile
For the first time earlier this year, Langham Preaching led training in Northern Ethiopia, an area dominated by the Orthodox church and under-reached by the Gospel. It is also right on the border of Eritrea, where a brutal government persecutes Christians. 100 to 150 Eritreans are risking their lives to cross the border daily.
Many of these are evangelical Christians, who are now living in four camps in the area where the Langham Preaching seminar took place.
One of the Langham Preaching trainers who led the seminar gave an exclusive interview, asking not to be named for security reasons.
Training future leaders for the Eritrean church
“At the Langham Preaching seminar, there were about 32 participants, 16 of them came from Northern Ethiopia, and 16 of them were Eritrean refugees who came from four refugee camps. That’s what’s made it very unique.
“I was delighted to have participants from these refugee camps because eventually I’m sure God will bring down this brutal regime in Eritrea. I believe these refugees will return to Eritrea, so it’s a great opportunity for Langham Preaching to equip the future leaders of the Eritrean Church. That’s the exciting thing!”
“They put her in prison because of her faith.”
“But these people are paying a price. Some of the seminar participants had been imprisoned for their faith back in Eritrea. There was a young lady, who was 19 or 20 – she was imprisoned three times, starting when she was 14 years old.
“They put her in prison because of her faith, for the first time when she was just 14, then they released her because she was ‘underage’. Then again, they put her in prison, when she was 17 and again at 18, until finally she escaped the country.
“When the refugees come to Ethiopia, they have to pay a lot of money for guides because they have to lead them through a secluded area and secluded roads. Some of them are making a big sacrifice to come to Ethiopia. That’s what makes this training very unique.
“These refugees are not only future orientated – in these camps there are also churches reaching out. From the four refugee camps there are four evangelical churches. These refugees go back to the camps and minister to many of the believers in the camp.
Establishing Preaching Clubs in the camps
“We are planning to do Level 2 training next year, we also established preaching clubs for these refugees in the camps. From each camp 3-4 people came, so we encouraged these people from each camp to get together, to encourage one another about their ministry, and about their preaching especially.
“In Level 1 we focus on expository preaching, how to preach from taking a single passage, so we have established three preaching clubs in the refugee camps.
“Please pray for the Lord to give freedom of worship in Eritrea, to bring regime change, for the Gospel to be preaching openly, for the Lord to continue to equip leaders. These Eritrean believers are like exiles, they are like the Eritrean Church in exile. In Ethiopia, we were communists from 1974 till 1991, so we’ve gone through the same kind of situation: the church was persecuted, but when the government was overthrown in 1991, we lacked Church leaders.
“Now if we prepare leaders throughout exile, one day when the Lord answers our prayers and brings down the Eritrean regime, if these leaders go back they will be equipped. Otherwise, Christianity will be shallow. In Africa, there is a saying that Christianity is a ‘mile wide and an inch deep’ because there is little discipleship. We are training the ‘disciplers’ of the future. We don’t want the same as what happened in Ethiopia to take place in Eritrea.”
Victoria Marsay, Digital Content Producer, Langham Partnership UK and Ireland.