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Giving from the beginning

By Pastor Tesfaye Abadura

Founded in 1927, the Ethiopian Kale Heywet Church (EKHC) has almost 12 million members in over 12,000 local congregations. From the church’s inception, local congregations were expected to share the gospel as soon as they began to follow Jesus, and to empower the church to send people further afield with the message. Pastor Tesfaye Abadura, the Global Missions Director of the EKHC says, “Missions is in our DNA.”

The denomination, which in Amharic means “Word of Life,” supports 38 missionary couples working cross culturally within Ethiopia and in Mali, Ghana, Northern Nigeria, South Sudan, Guinea, Northern Kenya, Somaliland, and other African and Asian countries. They plan to send workers to the Middle East and beyond, focusing on the 10/40 Window.

The Gospel Association
The EKHC funds its missionary activity through the Gospel Association. Every church member becomes a part of this association and family members are registered from birth. The EKHC believes that the first ministry of the Church is always missions; therefore, every congregant should contribute towards the spread of the gospel. They see this obligation as a privilege.

Throughout the country, at the monthly Lord’s Supper, members come with their Gospel Association ID cards and their gifts for missions. A regular contribution is expected in the name of each family member. The church joyfully collects these gifts and funds missionaries with them. Some churches have special funding days, or use the Christmas holidays, New Year, or Easter to take special collections. Churches also send part of their tithes for missions, but it is the Gospel Association which powers missions at the EKHC.

A funding culture
It’s not just the big churches who are collecting for missions, either. When a new church is planted, it is expected to send out and fund a local evangelist. As the church matures, it should send missionaries to unreached people groups near them, and aim at sending missionaries globally. These global missionaries are chosen and sent at the national level, though up to 10 churches may specifically support one global missionary. Some district leaders have a full-time job to oversee the missions programs and giving at their zonal churches. Pastor Abadura says, “It goes from the bottom to the top.”

In Ethiopia, it is culturally inappropriate for a missionary to raise funds for himself or herself; therefore, the leaders do it. The EKHC encourages pastors to speak on missions every week in some manner, so that people will not forget to reach the lost.

Three principles underpin their teaching: firstly, the belief that the main purpose of the Church is to do the mission that Jesus commanded. Secondly, Pastor Abadura asks, “How do we express God’s love for others if we don’t bring the gospel? If we don’t preach the gospel, then we are not loving God and expressing God’s love.” The church understands that withdrawing from doing missions is withdrawing from the love of God. Lastly is the hastening of Christ’s return. According to 2 Peter 3:9, Christ wants everyone to come to repentance, and he will not return until every people group has heard the gospel. Therefore, they do their best to give everyone a chance to know Jesus before he returns.

Pastor Abadura has this advice for other denominations to see an increase in their missions giving:
• Make mission the first ministry of the church. It is not an option, but an obligation.
• Ensure a strong prayer team is focusing on missions, because prayer opens the hands of God and the hearts of people.
• Key leaders of the church should continuously teach the Word of God about his mission. If missions is not preached every Sunday, people will not focus on it.
• Unity is important. When churches are united locally and globally, missions work becomes easy.
• Teach that God rewards those who give to missions. According to Revelation 22:12, God will give to each person according to what he or she has done. God is generous and we should be generous by giving to missions.

Pastor Tesfaye Abadura is the Global Missions Director of the Ethiopian Kale Heywet Church.

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