Pastor Greg O’Dell reflects on his discipleship training trip to Ethiopia in March 2018
A couple years ago, Cherrydaler Berhanu Mitiku approached me to talk about his heart for the next generation in his home country of Ethiopia. Around 50 percent of the population of Ethiopia is below the age of 21. Berhanu wanted to figure out a way to help train more leaders focused on youth ministry and making disciples.
Berhanu felt that the disciple making strategy that I use with Cherrydale’s youth ministry would be very helpful for the Ethiopian churches because of its focus on studying Jesus’ example. I organize our youth ministry around the disciple making concepts of winning, building, equipping, and multiplying. These words describe a progression that we see in how Jesus made his disciples.
I was originally trained in this disciple making strategy by Sonlife Ministries. I contacted them, and they put me in touch with their sister organization J-Life Africa. Apparently, their disciple-making strategy materials were being used in 23 African countries, but not in Ethiopia. When Berhanu offered to translate the materials and we offered to go as trainers, we were given an immediate green light to move forward with the project.
Right away, we began working on training materials and had to translate them as well. As we made preparations to go, Berhanu had to cancel his plans to travel due to a family emergency.
While in Ethiopia, I preached at two churches, led two multi-church youth ministry gatherings, and taught the seminar on the next generation disciple making ministry strategy. The seminar materials trained very well. The students were very receptive. We did not have as many as expected due to the political unrest. However, of the 50 students that we had, there were eight different church denominations represented. A couple of the leaders who were there were denominational representatives who are interested in training the materials for their denomination. About 12 people were identified as potential seminar trainers for follow-up coaching.
Several students in the class expressed interest in working on the second edition of the seminar manual. An interest was also expressed in translating the materials for the Oromo people, as several Oromo background people attended the seminar.