The first time I crossed the Atlantic was as a young sailor aboard the USS Denebola. The return voyage found us dodging two hurricanes. For seven days, we tacked across rolling seas with towering waves that broke over our bow, as we pushed through the tempest. After scurrying along the Outer Banks to avoid yet another storm, we at last reached our safe harbor in Virginia. The captain and crew had skillfully guided the ship over thousands of miles of stormy seas and narrow channels, and at last, the port was before us. In the distance, I could see my family waiting at the dock. I was happy. I was home. It’s a feeling sailors have experienced as long as men have gone to sea. Ancient mariners had a word for it—when wind and tide, rudder and sail, all worked together to bring them home, or “at the port.” The word has come down from Latin, directly into our vocabulary—it is “opportunity.” Mr. Webster captured that very sense of convergence in defining opportunity as “a combination of circumstances favorable for the purpose.”
Right now, in terms of Gospel advance, Ethiopia is a land of opportunity. Consider this “combination of favorable circumstances”: a fertile field with willing laborers strategically located for a Great Harvest.
A fertile field… In less than 25 years through the simple preaching of the Gospel, the number of evangelical Christians in Ethiopia has grown from fewer than 2% to well over 20%--despite rigorous opposition and persecution from Islamic and Orthodox groups.
with willing laborers… Ethiopian believers are committed to praying, going, and risking suffering and even death in the cause of reaching every village and people group in their country and beyond. Ethiopia now sends more missionaries to other countries than are being sent to Ethiopia. Thousands of young people are willing to be sent as missionaries and evangelists to difficult areas, but there aren’t enough funds to support them.
strategically located… Ethiopia is strategically located in the heart of the Horn of Africa, and leaders in the church in Ethiopia believe God has called them to reach the difficult surrounding nations of Sudan, Eritrea, Somalia, Yemen, and Djibouti. Peoples and tribes within Ethiopia have family and ethnic connections within these countries—significant opportunities that others do not have.
for a Great Harvest. Our Gospel partners in Ethiopia have laid out a plan that is sustainable, reproducible, and missional. We are calling it the Great Harvest Project, and our goal is to expand the reach of the Gospel, especially in Muslim areas, by developing four poultry-related business models. The Great Harvest Project is a 15-18 month integrated plan to develop and test four related business streams: egg production, feed production, modular chicken houses, and training materials and programs.
The goal of the Great Harvest Project is to build a simple, sustainable proof of concept for each of the four business models. These businesses can then be started independently or in any combination, depending on market conditions and ministry objectives. Our driving purpose is that these efforts will have a dramatic impact on strengthening and expanding the Church in Ethiopia through:
- Generating funds with which we will be able to purchase Bibles, support missionaries and church planters, and train future leaders in the church.
- Give access to areas in Ethiopia that are now inaccessible due to religious persecution. Businesses create a platform for believers to live and work in these areas.
- Provide a way for Muslim-background believers to support themselves.
All proceeds from the Great Harvest Project as of September 30, 2015 (15 months) will be invested in the purchase of much needed Oromo Bibles and to support missions work in Muslim areas. A full report of the project effectiveness, expenditures, and investment of the project proceeds will be provided to all donors. Our goal is to equal the amount donated for this project in direct investment in Gospel advancement in Ethiopia.
Believers in Ethiopia often express their belief that God has placed within their country the resources they need to reach Ethiopia and beyond. Their heart is to sustain their own movements and support their own pastors and missionaries. By providing multiple, reproducible models of economic empowerment the Great Harvest project can make a major difference for years to come.
This is creative-access missions on the frontlines of Gospel advance in the Horn of Africa! Please consider being part of this effort by designating a gift for the Great Harvest Project. Thank you!