The travel was bumpy, dusty and long, when I visited rural villages and project areas in Ethiopia. But this was not much different then many of my other trips that I have taken when visiting our Baptist partners in other parts of the world. It seems to be the common denominator in many rural areas where we are partnering. Many of the needs are basic to having a proper livelihood, which many of us would have a hard time adjusting to. For example, among other things, the lack of water for irrigation and drinking was evident. Cultivatable land was scarce and full of rocks. Sanitation facilities where inappropriate and had the potential of spreading diseases. Diseases plagued villages. Many areas lack access to formal education, especially for the young girls. And, in addition, the poverty level was very low with most making less than $1 a day.
But what was quite evident was that everybody welcomed us with handshakes and smiles on their face. You could tell that they truly loved Jesus even with the struggles that they were experiencing.
There are many needs among the Addis Kidan Baptist church members and their surrounding communities. But one may ask, what can be done?
My first response is that our very own churches need to get involved in a sacrificial way by partnering with local churches - financially, physically, and in prayer.
One of my ambitions is that at a Global level our American Baptist Churches here in the United States play a bigger role in opening up opportunities for our local partner churches at the international level; that they have access to clean water and sanitation and are finding their way out of poverty. What a task, but with the guidance of the Holy Spirit I believe this can be done. We have a biblical responsibility to reach out to our brothers and sister no matter where they come from - North, South, East, or West.
Some of the immediate needs that came out of workshops and discussions were:
1. Project development and management / capacity building
2. Water and Sanitation Development
3. Increase in coffee quality with better markets
4. Micro-Enterprise activities
It is hoped that next year I will make another trip to conduct workshops on need analysis and project development. With such training and hopefully some financial backing, we will attempt to assist these partner churches with some of their development needs, in addition to introduce them to some networks that may also offer some assistance.
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
-- Mike Mann