Tag: Ethiopia

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.”

Ethiopia Mission Reaches University Students, Gumuz Tribe

Members of the Gumuz tribe listened attentively as Lloyd Greenhaw shares his “Genesis to Jesus” story.

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

By Nancy Greenhaw, Renewal Ministries’ Country Coordinator

The bishop has been so happy with the results of our visits with his university students that he asked us to give them another weekend session. Each year, we have some returnees and newly enrolled students as well.

Eighty students attended; the bishop was happy. Lloyd began his talks on knowing and defending the faith with an in-depth talk on Mary, going through biblical typology and that the Ark of the Covenant is Mary. He taught all day, going through talks on the Eucharist, confession, idols, and more. The youth were amazed by everything the Church teaches and believes is in the Bible!

The next day, I taught on “Growing in Prayer” and on St. Therese of Lisieux and the “Audacity of Faith.” Bishop Lesanu interpreted for us. He greatly enjoys being with the young people. He explained that these kids experience many problems and hopelessness. Choosing to stay Catholic means choosing the more difficult path—including less education and fewer job opportunities. He said our time with the students always strengthens their faith. One young man chose this university based on reports he had heard about us from prior students. After the session, he said he was not disappointed in his decision!

Lloyd answered the young people’s many questions on faith, marriage, and what being a true Christian means in their lives. I then taught them how to share their testimonies—which they had never done before. Then they practiced giving their testimonies. One young man stood up and said that in his church, a thief stole the Blessed Sacrament and threw the hosts on the floor. Suddenly, the thief was paralyzed. He remained that way all night until morning Mass-goers found him and the police were called; he then was set free of the paralysis, and they took him to jail!

The next day, we drove for about three hours to the small town of Dibate, which was our base for the next few days. We stayed with Fr. Desalegn, who teaches and preaches to the Gumuz Tribe.  He also runs a “hostel” for the Gumuz boys who are getting an education from the government. (Apparently the Church feeds and houses and the government educates them.) We were privileged to speak to nearly thirty of the boys.

Fr. Desalegn says Mass for the Gumuz every Thursday, even though no one has received their First Holy Communion. Lloyd, Fr. Desalegn, our interpreter, Franciscan Seminarian Senay Mesfin, the driver Dagnachaw, the Communication Officer of the Diocese Tegelemma Lemma, and I drove about ninety minutes on a very rough road through the hills around the Gumuz. When we could drive no longer, we got out to walk. It’s a beautiful area, but the young Ethiopians walk faster us up the hills than us flatlanders. When Lloyd and I got too winded, we slowed and loudly told each other, “Let’s stop and look at the view!” The guys laughed at us. We did finally reach the new Gumuz church! This is the only structure for miles that is not made of mud. With the help of the Gumuz, Italians brought in a corrugated aluminum ceiling and walls on poles as their church. It is a step up from the old blue tarp over poles.

The Gumuz had kept in contact with our progress through cell phones, and they were singing loudly for us as we walked in, happy that we were there. After singing, Lloyd began to preach the Gospel, going from Genesis to Jesus. Lloyd spoke in English, which was interpreted into Amharic by the Seminarian and then interpreted to Gumuzegina (the name given to us by the seminarian) by a local young man. Then Father said the short (only one hour) Ethiopian Mass, and then Lloyd led them in a prayer to accept Jesus. Then, Father, Lloyd, and I asked everyone interested to come forward for prayer. All responded. We laid hands on several hundred people, children included, and asked for God’s blessing and healing. Lloyd, with Father’s blessing, blessed them with a large Benedictine Cross. The people couldn’t take their eyes off Jesus!

Afterward, we were invited to the chief’s hut. The wide-eyed children rarely see “Fraenges,” know as whites, and they stared and pressed around me as I took photos. So cute! It was around noon and very hot. We walked several miles back to the truck, and many kids walked with us. We drove back to Father’s house, and we all ate and rested. Then, around 4 p.m., Father took us on another adventure.

He took us to another Gumuz village about thirty minutes away. None of these people have been baptized, and few have heard the Gospel. They practice traditional religion, and Father has gained their trust. Father thought that Lloyd’s “Genesis to Jesus” story was perfect to share with them. Again, we drove as far as we could. This time, we only had to walk uphill about a half mile to a set of mud huts with people sitting on logs in a half circle, with men on the right and women and most children on the left. The people were in no hurry and sat very attentively as Lloyd preached. Afterward, as in the other camp, he asked if they wanted to ask Jesus into their hearts. They did. It was a beautiful experience. Coming from America, it is still amazing that there are places where the Gospel has not been preached. What a fantastic privilege!

At dark, we started back. Many young boys ran after us. They ran faster than we could drive and tried to grab hold of our vehicle. The driver finally stopped and sent them away, but they still followed a long distance, waving and laughing.

. . .

Below are two of the many testimonies we collected from the university students:

When I was in grade eleven, I heard Americans brought teaching and told us what was wrong about masturbation. I longed for an opportunity to listen to these people. I chose the Bahir Dar University so that I could meet you. I knew that such an opportunity from Lloyd and Nancy could only be found in the Bahir Dar diocese.

I learned from the teaching that I was talking bad to myself. I would think things like I was not useful, I was not important. I also had no courage to speak to people. I could not express myself. Lloyd and Nancy taught me, “You’re very important. Jesus gave you the power so you can do great things!” Now I see that I can do great things as the son of God. I will exercise my faith. Now my life is completely changed.

All of you first-year students, you’re very lucky to hear about pornography and to be liberated and how our body is holy. I don’t say that I’m really holy. But I can say at this moment I am far away from pornography and masturbation. You cannot hide yourself from God.

When you spoke about Mary, I had never thought about this before. I am now fully convinced that Mary intercedes for us. During my final exam, I prayed to Mary to help me to pass the exam. I made an “F.” I had already prepared my luggage to move back home. But the teacher called me and offered to help, and he helped me bring my grade up. So, it was a chance for me! I realized Mary really is an intercessor, and when you pray to her, she responds.

Also, I was surprised that abortions are not allowed. I thought, how are you going to keep the population from becoming too big, it will be difficult. I now know that God has us for a purpose. Your teachings opened my eyes. We cannot be against the will of God. Only the Catholic Church is against divorce. It makes me love my Catholicism, because Catholicism is still firm in the teaching and continues its mission.

. . .

I have received many things in my life from the beginning of last year, when Bishop Scott McCaig taught us about Mass. I was converted by the teaching of Bishop Scott. Most of the time, even if you’re a singer in the choir, after Mass, you begin to look at bad photos on your phone. After hearing Bishop Scott, I completely stopped. I started to read the Bible, and I learned how to pray and to read the Bible and understand it.

In Lloyd and Nancy’s testimony, they had been rich and they had many things, but they had to leave that for Christ, for the service of the Lord. Now, I don’t think I will go into government work. I want to do what Lloyd and Nancy are doing. I will do that next year. I have to pay back. I have to do something for the Lord, because I learned from them, from you. After finishing the University, I would like to do evangelization work for the diocese.

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»

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gumuz Tribe Experiences Conversion

Lloyd crossing streams to get to the Gumuz
The team had to cross several streams, some by jumping rock to rock, in order to reach the Gumuz tribe.

By Lloyd Greenhaw, Renewal Ministries’ Country Coordinator

During a recent mission to Ethiopia, we proclaimed the Gospel to unbaptized people just starting their journey to Christ. We felt like true missionaries!

At the request of Bishop Lesanu-Christos Matheos, we traveled several hours to a remote town called Banush, in the heart of Gumuz territory. The story of this Gumuz tribe is truly amazing! The Gumuz people are a very primitive and fierce tribe, with a reputation of violence and murder. In fact, other denominations have not attempted to evangelize them out of fear. About twelve years ago, a group of Comboni nuns went to the Gumuz in another area of Ethiopia and began a medical outreach to them. The love and care these wonderful nuns gave the people led them to Jesus and His Church, and now that region has a good number of Gumuz who are Catholics, but none of the Gumuz near Banush had yet been baptized.

However, two young Gumuz men, who had gone to school in Bahir Dar, encountered Jesus and were baptized. They then went to the bishop and asked him to send a priest to their village in the mountains. He told them that when they had at least forty people interested in the Catholic faith, he would send them a priest. These young men, filled with zeal for the Gospel, did just that—and the bishop, true to his word, sent his only diocesan priest, Fr. Teklemarian Amanuel, to them. After only a few months of preaching the Gospel there, 280 men, women, and children received the Sacrament of Baptism, only a short time after our visit!

Gumuz evangelists with Fr. T
Fr. Teklemarian Amanual with the two young men who requested a priest be sent to their tribe.

To reach the Gumuz tribe, we first made a several-hour trip to Banush. Then, Fr. Teklemarian left his vehicle at a small village, and we began hiking. We had no idea how far we had to go and expected to arrive there quickly. Boy, were we ever wrong! We walked for several miles up small mountains, down deep valleys, and across several streams—two of which we had to pass over by jumping rock to rock!

When the priest finally said we were close, he pointed at a neighboring mountain with a blue tarp stretched between poles, which was barely visible, and told us that was our destination. We all groaned inwardly. I kept reminding myself that St. Paul had it much worse. When we finally arrived, the whole village greeted us. It was quite a sight and made us so glad that we had come. The Gumuz are some of the last of the hunters and gatherers, and by their clothing we could see they were poor. Some of the children had the red hair of malnutrition.

I shared with them the basic salvation message and told them they had been chosen by God and that He has a plan for their lives, to bless and prosper them and give them a future filled with hope. I then led them into a prayer of commitment to Jesus. Father asked me to speak on baptism, and I told them that while they were already followers of Christ, baptism was their full incorporation into the family of God. I told them it is more than a symbol; it is a true transformation, as they become a brand-new creation. I told them they would then receive the Holy Spirit, and He would empower them with gifts of healing, preaching, and teaching so they could then go and evangelize others in their tribe.

Nancy then taught on the necessity of forgiveness, and we did the skit where she carries me on her back and God asks her to forgive me. When she does forgive, she starts dancing and asks them: Did I do that for him or for me? They all say, “For you!” The message got across! During quiet times, you could hear the coughing and wheezing of the children. They have no access to healthcare.

Church of the Gumuz
During the team’s time with the Gumuz people, church was held under this blue tarp.

As it was getting late, we decided to leave, so we could get back before dark. We were dreading the walk back, but somehow it seemed easier. I am sure it was God saying, “Good job.” That night, we had the pleasure of ministering to thirty young Gumuz men who were attending school in Banush. The Catholic Church provides them with room and board at no charge. At the request of Fr. Amanual, I gave the basic salvation message, and Nancy taught on the call to holiness and the moral life. They had many questions, and it was such a pleasure to see their interest in what we taught and respect for the priest and one another. Before we left, we prayed with them for wisdom, understanding, and knowledge, and they were very happy.

Good things are happening in Ethiopia!