Tag: Bishop Lesanu

Bishop Witnesses Conversion in Ethiopia

This article originally appeared in Renewal Ministries’ August 2019 newsletter.

By Heather Schultz, Renewal Ministries’ Editor

Bishop Lesanu-Christos Matheos, of the Eparchy of Bahir Dar-Dessir in Ethiopia, recently visited the Renewal Ministries’ offices. He was in the United States to attend the ordination of an Ethiopian priest in Chicago and to visit Ethiopian priests and communities.

Bishop Lesanu has seen amazing stories of conversion in his diocese over the past couple of years, especially in the Gumuz tribe. The Gumuz are very isolated, but two young men from the tribe who had encountered Jesus at school worked with the bishop to bring a priest to their people. Last year, 280 people were baptized!

And this year, Bishop Lesanu helped baptize 405 Gumuz people! He said the Gospel is bringing about tremendous change in the Gumuz culture. He said there are two things the Gumuz people value: not lying and not stealing. He said that even if a member of the Gumuz tribe were to kill someone, they would never lie about it.

He added, however, that the Gumuz also have a habit of killing people if they are annoyed with them. He said they don’t place much value on human life.

He explained that if a person’s family saw their loved one about to be killed, their typical response would be to simply kill the person themselves. By killing you before the enemy, he said, “they think they saved you.”

This “killing culture,” as Bishop Lesanu described it, has been reduced since the Gumuz have come to know Christ.

He shared a story about a mother who asked her sons to seek revenge on their father’s killer. All four sons refused, because “the Lord says not to kill.”

“This was a shock for the society,” said Bishop Lesanu.

Bishop Lesanu added that the Gumuz people are independent; they don’t want to beg. He once received $1 from a woman—“and, with the heart of the lady who gave it to me, that $1 is worth more to me than $1 million.”

“The Gumuz are unique because they are innocent,” he continued. “I tell them to keep that value and tradition. They give back if they are given any more than they need.”

He said he doesn’t like to make the Gumuz people wait too long to be baptized, because “it is a matter of salvation. We don’t need them to be theologians; we want them to be baptized.”

The faithful receive additional teaching before receiving their First Communions.

He described the beauty of the Gumuz people’s faith: “They kiss the cross every time they come to the priest. They love the cross. They will run up to a priest of they see him on the street and say, ‘Bless me, Father’ and ask for absolution.”

Bishop Lesanu’s diocese is both new and very big—more than two-thirds the size of Italy. Yet he only has a very small number of priests and religious to assist him in serving the faithful.

He became acquainted with Renewal Ministries after doing an interview with Church in Need. At the time, he was a chaplain for the Charismatic Catholics, who “looked very Protestant.”

“This was a big load for me,” he explained. “I was given the big responsibility just to be an umbrella over them. I knew no one else. They published the interview, and many Catholics from around the world reached out to me. Michelle Moran, who at that time was president of ICCRS (International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services), contacted me.”

Through that connection, Renewal Ministries’ Country Coordinators Lloyd and Nancy Greenhaw came to serve in Ethiopia. One way the Greenhaws have served is by teaching university students. “We have more than eleven big government universities in our area,” said Bishop Lesanu. “Each university has 40,000-50,000 students, with just one percent who are Catholic. We have to take care of them and give them good formation.”

Bishop Lesanu added, “In 2016, one year after my installation as bishop, I had a lot of problems directed to me. I questioned, ‘Is it really the will of God that I am a bishop?’ I had a car accident, there was division among my priests, and some of the faithful changed religions. It caused me to question myself. I was in contact with Ralph Martin and Sr. Ann Shields, and Sr. Ann told me to prostrate myself in front of the Eucharist very often. In one year, everything changed.”

Additionally, a priest who travelled with the Greenhaws last year saw the bishop’s living conditions—he had no office and worked out of his bedroom—and offered to pay the rent on a bigger house for a year. Now, the bishop has an office space and the Dominican Sisters of Catherine of Siena work there as well, doing pastoral education.

“I can see the Lord put me in that place and is following me, assisting me,” said Bishop Lesanu. “I can see that it is His will that this work be given to me.”

Spreading the Gospel in Ethiopia

University students were each given a Bible blessed by Bishop Scott McCaig and Bishop Lesanu.


The following article, written by Renewal Ministries’ Country Coordinator Nancy Greenhaw, originally appeared in Renewal Ministries’ June 2018 newsletter.


In Ethiopia, Catholics are less than one percent of the population and are very persecuted. Nevertheless, the bishop of Bahir Dar, Bishop Lesanu, gathered nearly one hundred eager college students for our first set of workshops, which will be the focus of this report. Bishop Scott McCaig and Companions of the Cross seminarian Marcus Schonnop, who has finished six years of seminary, joined our team.

It was impressive to see Bishop Scott wear his black long clerics to match Bishop Lesanu, who interpreted for him and also gave teachings. Bishop Scott told them,

“Jesus is still concerned for the poor, saving souls, and healing the sick, but He only has your hands, your feet, and your voice.”

Marcus also riveted the students with his testimony. This young priest-to-be shocked them by saying he had been an atheist! His roommate in college was an informed, serious, and joyful Catholic. During the three years that Marcus tried to prove his friend wrong, Marcus came to know and understand the truth of Jesus and the Catholic Church. He was in Adoration one evening, and after seeking the Lord with his head for all that time, Marcus came to know Jesus in his heart. Marcus challenged the students to be strong witnesses of their faith to all they meet at the university, because like him, many are searching for the truth.

We later realized that Bishop Scott, Marcus, and Lloyd were all converts to the faith and originally the only Catholics in their own families! Now Marcus’ parents are Catholic as well.

One day, Bishop Lesanu and Lloyd taught as a team on apologetics. It was a great mixture; you could witness both men getting more excited to be Catholic as they preached! The students had many questions, and Bishop Scott stepped in to give clear, concise answers that prompted more questions. These young people were hungry for the truth of their faith!

On another day, Bishop Scott talked to the students about the importance of Mass and how we enter into holiness through sacraments and prayer, especially the rosary. He stressed that we will not grow without a personal prayer life. He said the best way to grow in faith is to pray with Scriptures every day.

Marcus then taught on Lectio Divina. He said to ask the Holy Spirit, “What is going on?”—and then we can talk honestly, and Scripture will speak to our hearts. He told a personal story about asking the Lord how to obtain more holiness. The Lord took him to the story of David and Goliath, in which David had five smooth stones. In meditation, God said to Marcus that the five stones were: prayer, sacraments, the rosary, fasting, and community. The kids loved it!

Our next talks were with “One Year for Jesus” missionaries—a group that included seven seminarians. Last year, Bishop Lesanu had only one seminarian! Before my talk on the Five Keys to spiritual freedom, Bishop Scott gave a testimony about how, during his time as an exorcist, he only had to use the ritual of exorcism very rarely, because by taking people through Unbound’s Five Keys, almost everybody was set free. He explained:

It was only in the most severe cases that I had to use the ritual of exorcism. Unbound ministry’s Five Keys are basic biblical principles, and by applying them to people who have been demonized, it is remarkable how powerful they are. I encourage you to really internalize what you’re hearing and learn how to lead someone to faith and how to make a good repentance.

Learn what it means to forgive from the heart and how to teach that to others. Learn what it means to renounce evil by name, to understand your authority that you have received from Jesus to tell demons to go, and to pray blessings into people’s lives—to restore and heal what has been broken and distorted. You will discover, as I have, that it does wonders in people’s lives. It sets them free and gives them tools to set others free. Even when we had to use the ritual of exorcism, all we did was weaken the demon to the point that the person could cooperate with Unbound; then we were able to close the entry points and push the enemy away.

This is not just a tool for ministry or deliverance. This is a way of living out your own life, because we are called by the Lord to live with faith, repent of our sins, forgive our enemies, renounce evil, destroy the works of the enemy and live under the blessing of the Holy Spirit.

I use these principles in my own life very often.

If somebody treats me poorly, attacks me, or says bad words about me, and I feel anger rising up inside of me, I stop and walk through the Five Keys. In faith, I declare,

‘I’m here to work for You, Jesus. I’m here for Your favor, Jesus, not theirs. I repent of the anger and the hatred that’s going through my heart right now.’

‘I forgive this man, and I pray Your blessings upon him. I release him to You. I forgive him with all my heart. I renounce the evil and anger and all of the evil spirits behind it. I renounce the spirit of vengeance and all evil spirits associated with them. I renounce the spirit of self-hatred and all evil spirits associated with it, in the name of Jesus Christ. I command all those spirits that I have renounced to get out of here now.’

‘In Jesus name, I pray for a blessing: “Lord give me the grace to love this person, give me the grace to love my enemy like You command in the Gospel. Help me to be humble, kind, and gentle. Help me to treat them fairly, to be long-suffering, and to win them over with love.’

I cannot recommend the Five Keys strongly enough.

We departed for home feeling that the Lord had been with us throughout our trip, accomplishing His will and plan. I think the Lord is opening doors in Ethiopia!


*For more on the Five Keys, check out the book Unbound»