I want to accept Christ, but pray with me quickly. I’m late for a meeting

December 03, 2018

When one of our beneficiaries comes to faith in Christ, I am often surprised by how anticlimactic it can be. I somehow expect a clear, individualized “come-to- Jesus” kind of moment, but instead people gradually and slowly drift into the Kingdom, sometimes without us even noticing.

In the past four years this woman had been in and out of our community center every day, yet showing no spiritual openness. She had helped with community health activities, but was generally antagonistic to the spiritual dimension of our work—at times even gossiping about or antagonizing those coming to our community bible studies and Sunday services.

Now, four years later, she sat in our church plant worship service and publicly professed her faith in Christ without much fanfare before heading to another meeting. Our ministry team leaders were so caught off-guard, that all we knew to say was “OK, great” and pray over her before she hurried off. If this was an isolated incident, I would be suspicious about how genuine this profession of faith might be. But more than an exception, this kind of moment has been the rule in our spiritual ministry in Suki. As an American I am culturally conditioned to experience everything as an individual– and therefore I expect people to come to a clear and individualized moment of conversion. Ethiopians, in contrast, are deeply communal, and as a result much of the spiritual work of someone coming to faith happens behind the scenes and in relation to how one sees their place in the community. Rather than an individual saying, “Yes, now I cognitively believe these truths about Christ and put my trust in Him” it is often a person saying “Yes, I am now part of this community of Christ, and trust in Him.”

Though these moments often surprise me, they are gracious reminders that God is the one who draws people to Himself. It also shows how crucial is Ethiopia ACT’s holistic approach to community health and spiritual ministry, both proclaiming and demonstrating the love of Christ in community to those who do not know Him.