Ethiopia (MNN) — If life gives you lemons, build a church.
That’s what a pastor in Ethiopia did and continues to do, despite the hardships he faces.
Wilfred Unrau of WorldServe Ministries shares this man’s story, and a little about what they’re doing in Ethiopia.
“WorldServe Ministries works with indigenous people in their countries. We don’t have any North Americans on the ground at those places,” he says.
They’re currently working with five organizations in Ethiopia. Their work is to support, to provide for the needs these ministries have. Recently this has involved providing school desks for two schools. They’re also helping to build three more schools in that area.
Unrau says there is a lot of persecution in Ethiopia and surrounding countries, despite over half the population being Christian.
“Ethiopia is a fascinating country. It’s actually the only country in Africa that was not colonized, and it has a number of connections with our Bible,” he explains.
A man with the right attitude
“I met a pastor that took us to his church, and we had an amazing worship service…so lively,” Unrau says, explaining that he can’t reveal the man’s name because he is under persecution.
13 years ago, this man closed down his two night clubs after someone approached him and told him about the fulfillment of living in Christ. The next year he became a pastor and has since planted three churches. And if you count the church he planted in prison, it’s four churches.
This man has been imprisoned for his faith eight times over the last 12 years.
You might wonder what drives a man to continue moving forward after so many years of opposition.
For one thing, he is devoted to serving God. Unrau says, “He’s one of the people who looks more at ‘What have I got’ as opposed to ‘What do I not have.’”
Everything he does have, Unrau explains, he uses to serve God.
A church built from persecution
So when people began throwing rocks at the people who came to his church services, the pastor prayed and asked God what he was supposed to do with this situation.
Unrua says, “He looked at the rocks and [thought], ‘Wait a minute: the people are collecting the rocks for us to build our church.’ And so this pastor built his first church from the rocks that people threw at them while they were having their church service. And he thought it was so cool because he didn’t have to go collect the rocks: [the church’s enemies] were all collecting them for him.”
Unrau says it is people like this that WorldServe longs to partner with.
More recently the pastor has secretly met with Christian students at a local university. Unrau says he got to see seven students graduate from the university after being discipled by the pastor. They are going back to their villages to start churches so their people can hear the Gospel.
One of the students is heading back to Somalia. Those around him asked him if he knew what he was getting into, and he replied, “I could lose my life because of this. I am so happy to go plant a church in Somalia.”
Unrau says the pastor’s Godly attitude spread to the students he discipled.
Part of the work WorldServe does in other parts of the world is to establish micro loans. For the past four and a half years, WorldServe has never had a loan that wasn’t paid back. They are carrying this ministry to Ethiopia in February.
Unrau says that many business leaders have given them money for a specific project that is a passion of theirs.
Unrau says this is a “super idea for those business people that want to see their money physically working out there.”
He explains that the micro loans provide a unique opportunity for gifts of money to continue to work on the field for 10 years and beyond after the donation is made.
If you’d like to know more about WorldServe and how you can partner with them, visit them here.
“Worldserve.ca — we gladly lose our flag in order to empower the indigenous people. It’s not about us, it’s about the work God is doing there and God allowing us to come alongside of Him and just do some amazing stuff. Those are the people that we’re looking for,” Unrau says.