Twelve powerful witch doctors used to control the entire area. Christians who visited could not sleep and felt physical pain that would not go away until they were on their way home. So they just prayed—and came back the next month to stay awake, feel pain, and pray. Little by little, all twelve witch doctors in the Welenchiti area died, moved away, or lost their power.
Before long, people were coming to Christ in large numbers. In 2018 our colleague Mezgebu baptized some 2000 people, about half of whom came from an area in which he had been teaching pastors to form small discipleship groups. That summer he found that 70% of those baptized from that area were participating regularly in small groups. All fall, he and some local leaders visited the key villages from which these people had come to verify for themselves that these small groups were really happening.
About that time, two brave pastors came to Mezgebu from an adjoining area that for many years has been a training center for witch doctors. They determined to evangelize that area. He agreed to help them set up small discipleship groups for their future converts. That personal care and mentoring could be especially important for people who have lived under the power of witch doctors. They started immediately. In February, Mez baptized 617 there, and in March, another 498 in the original area. In between baptisms, Mez traveled to the area almost every week to train small group leaders and coaches for those small groups.
Then he got fanatical about finding out if they were implementing the training. “Till I have the names of the people in each group, your groups are just fiction!” he cajoled. It took several more trips into the area, but he just sent us the names of 3321 people in 312 new small groups in 20 churches in this area, all started within the last three months! This data will help the pastors see where more leaders need training—and hold leaders accountable to take good care of those under their care. Mez is passionate that not a single person in this area to whom God has given new life should fall through the cracks.
To ensure that these groups are of high quality, our goal is to have each leader mentored in turn by a more experienced leader who has no more than ten leaders to train and care for. This system, originally proposed by Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, worked in Israel at least forty years (Deut. 1:13-18). We’ve seen it work both in the USA and Ethiopia as people have learned to love each other practically and hold one another accountable for what they are learning in Scripture.
But it takes a lot of work. It could not happen without our colleagues in Ethiopia who pour many hours into on-site follow-up of our teaching. We are thankful to them—and to those whose contributions provide travel money for them.