Ethiopia Update 2013

We have had a year of progress and blessing at Metropolitan Tabernacle Ethiopia. 

It has seen the establishment of a Theological College at our compound in Debre Zeit with the purpose of training and equipping young men and women to serve Christ all over Ethiopia and beyond. 

It has also seen the development of a thriving children’s ministry, a youth evangelism team and the planting of a second church in Babogaya village. All this has been in addition to the ongoing work of the school, church and medical clinic. God has blessed the work this year and we are thankful for His faithfulness in providing for every need.

We appreciate all your support and prayers for the work in Ethiopia. We believe that the light of the gospel is beginning to shine brightly in Ethiopia and we wait to see what God will do in the future in this place. Psalm 29 v 2: “Give unto the Lord the glory due unto His name…”


There are now two churches in Ethiopia under the umbrella of the Metropolitan Tabernacle Belfast:

The Metropolitan Tabernacle Ethiopia

Currently, the church has approximately 400 members and we are seeing steady growth year on year. The Sunday service consists of a prayer time, opening worship led by the Senior or Junior Choir followed by the preaching of the Word.


The weekly church programme consists of a prayer meeting on Monday evening, a Bible study on Thursday evening, a youth club on Saturday morning as well as various outreaches and evangelism throughout the week.

The church has a regular baptism programme and baptismal candidates complete a three month course on Christian fundamentals before being baptised. As many of these new converts come from Orthodox and even Muslim backgrounds, it is important that they fully understand their faith and the commitment they are making. So far, over 200 people have been baptised since the church opened.

The weekly church programme

As part of the weekly church programme, home bible study groups take place in 8 different areas around Debre Zeit town in our church members’ homes. These meetings take place on Saturday evenings and they are proving to be valuable for our church as it is often difficult for people to travel at dark to attend midweek meetings at the main church.

The church building can seat 2000 people and we are trusting that we will see God’s blessing on the work here and the church being filled to capacity! Our evangelism team, consisting of Pastor Desta, Meseret, Yemisrach and Sisay, carry out street evangelism 3 mornings every week in the local town and villages. They are also responsible for teaching the gospel classes in our school every day where they are reaching over 600 children with the gospel. 


Children’s Bible Clubs

Alongside the outreach to the school children, the evangelism team are also responsible for running three children’s bible clubs during the week - Wednesday afternoon in Babogaya village, Friday afternoon in Kuriftu village and Saturday morning at the Metropolitan Tabernacle. Each bible club consists of opening prayer, songs, bible lessons and memory verses as well as plenty of fun and games! During the week, the team is now reaching approximately 350 village children with the gospel through these bible clubs.

Blaze Youth Evangelism Team

Recently, a youth evangelism team has been established under the name of ‘Blaze Ethiopia’. It is an extension of the youth evangelism outreach in the Belfast church. These young people form a church welcome team each Sunday morning and will be responsible over the next year for setting up a children’s church to cope with the large number of children attending church on Sunday mornings. We hope in the future that these young people will be a valuable addition to the evangelism outreach in Ethiopia and particularly in reaching out to other young people in this area to tell them how God has changed their lives.


Second Church – Metropolitan Church Babogaya

A second church has been constructed in another village called Babogaya. This is the first church plant of the Metropolitan Tabernacle Ethiopia and it has been independently financed and built by the members of the Metropolitan Tabernacle Ethiopia.

The church building seats up to 250 people, has one choir room/office as well as a toilet and shower block. We believe that the church is strategically placed to reach out to this entire community as there are no other churches within the area. Weekly children’s bible meetings have started in the church and we hope to soon start running weekly Sunday services. We believe that God has provided a great opportunity to reach out to the people of the Babogaya village and are trusting Him to provide an anointed leader for this new congregation.


The Metropolitan Tabernacle Christian School was officially opened in 2006 by Pastor James McConnell to provide free education to the many poor children in the Kuriftu area. Currently, there are 601 children on our school roll receiving free education. Without this school, these children would never have the opportunity to get an education as their families are too poor to pay the fees for the government schools. Without some form of education, it is difficult for them to break the cycle of poverty. Jim McClelland has often said that the work in Ethiopia is “God’s plan for the children” and already we are beginning to see the fruits of our labour as many children have come to know Christ since the school started.

This year, each of the children have been provided with a new school uniform consisting of a shirt, trousers or skirt and a waistcoat. As all the children attending the school are selected from the poorest of families, they are not used to wearing new clothes so it is a great delight for them to receive a brand new uniform. 

Free meals & healthcare

As well as free education, each child also receives free school books and materials as well as a free meal at lunchtime every day. Their lunch consists of fresh bread, which is baked on site by our canteen staff, as well as vegetable soup and eggs or pasta. Currently, we are providing an incredible 108,000 free meals every year in our school and although it is a massive task to clothe and feed these children, we believe it is important to provide a holistic ministry so they know that the love of Christ extends to their physical as well as spiritual needs.

The children and their families can also avail of free healthcare at our on-site clinic, which is a great benefit to this community. Shortly after purchasing the land for the compound, we discovered that the land was situated on top of a water table with a supply of water capable of lasting up to 25 years. A well was subsequently drilled and we now have a constant supply of clean drinking water for all the students and staff on site.


Bible Classes

As part of our school curriculum, the children are taught the gospel every week from Kindergarten right through to Grade 8. These classes are taught by Pastor Desta Abera and Meseret Sintayehu who are both former teachers. The teaching consists of bible stories, memory verses and moral instruction in a way which is both attractive and memorable for children. We believe that the school presents us with a great opportunity to teach children from Greek Orthodox and even Muslim backgrounds about the love of Jesus. Our aim is to train these children from a young age in the gospel so that when they grow up, they can love, serve and follow God.

In November, we had a visit from Gideon’s International who provided 600 New Testaments in Amharic for each of the schoolchildren. Most of the children have never owned their own Bible so it was a special gift for them. The bibles are also used in the school bible classes and the Scripture Union and are proving to be a valuable asset in teaching these children.

Scripture Union

As part of the weekly school programme, a Christian Student Fellowship has been established every Thursday afternoon. All the Christian students meet for a time of prayer, worship and teaching. Currently there are 60 children meeting on a weekly basis for a prayer, worship and bible teaching programme and we believe that numbers will continue to grow as the children are faithfully taught the gospel. These children are eager to learn more about God and we trust that as they grow up, they will continue to love the Lord and serve Him.


One of the highlights in the school calendar is the arrival of Christmas shoebox gifts for each of our schoolchildren. The shoeboxes are filled with simple presents by people in Northern Ireland and the boxes are then shipped to Ethiopia for distribution at Christmas time. For many of our schoolchildren, this is the only present they receive during the whole year therefore there is much anticipation and excitement around the school during Christmas time.

Each year, the school children prepare a special Christmas programme consisting of a nativity play, singing from the school choir and a short gospel message. After this, they each receive a shoebox and the noise is almost deafening as they begin opening their gifts!

Child Sponsorship Scheme

A child sponsorship scheme called “Soul Provider” was developed in 2012 with the aim of having an individual sponsor for each child in our school. The sponsorship costs £10 per month and this covers the child’s uniform, school materials, daily meals and healthcare. As a sponsor, you receive an update on your child twice every year and you can send letters and photos to your child. The children love to hear from their sponsors and it always brings a big smile to their faces when they receive a letter from someone in another country. This is a great opportunity to make a difference in a child’s life. If you are interested in sponsoring a child, please contact us at the details provided at the back of this brochure and we will arrange for a sponsorship pack to be sent to you.


The Metropolitan Tabernacle Childrens Clinic has been established for over 3 years during which time it has treated almost 10,000 people. The clinic staff are responsible for carrying out 6-monthly check-ups on all the school children, which involves testing them for AIDS as well as a variety of other conditions. The clinic is open every day from Monday to Friday and offers free treatment, not only to the children but also to their families.

Given the conditions that many of these children are living in, poor hygiene and lack of running water, there are many health complaints and the clinic staff have had to treat a wide variety of illnesses, from chest infections to tapeworm to malaria. A number of our schoolchildren have also been diagnosed as HIV positive therefore we purchase and provide these children with the necessary medication to prolong their lives. 

We also have a number of school children with eye problems and we have arranged and paid for all specialist treatment and surgery for their eye conditions. This is a great benefit to their poor families, who would be unable to pay for any such treatment for their children. 

One of the best stories this year is that of Tsion Bayissa (pictured here) who has had eye problems since birth. Over the last year, the clinic staff have been taking her to Addis Ababa for appointments with a specialist eye doctor and during the summer, she finally had an operation to correct her sight. She is recovering well and it is remarkable to see the difference in her eye. Previously, she had some difficulty with school work but now her vision has dramatically improved and she can’t help smiling all the time! Her family are so thankful for this treatment as they would not have been able to afford such surgery for their daughter.


The bible college was officially opened in February 2012 by Senior Associate Pastor David Purse. The building consists of 2 large conference rooms in the basement as well as 3 floors of lecture rooms and accommodation for students. We also have a well-equipped library and computer suite, which allows students to carry out the necessary research for their courses.

We believe that the bible college is the cornerstone of the work in Ethiopia as it provides an opportunity to teach sound gospel doctrine and to train Ethiopian nationals to evangelise their own people.

The aim of the bible college is to provide quality theological education which is Christ-centered & faithful to Bible teachings. This Gospel-oriented theology & practice at MTE-TC will help students grow in the study of theology which is thoroughly biblical & evangelical and enable them to gain insights into applying that theology with skills for serving God’s people in the Ethiopian/African contexts & beyond.

The college offers courses at all levels – Diploma, Certificate, Degree, Masters and PhD to suit the needs of the applicants. All courses incorporate teaching in the following areas:

• Evangelism & Missions
• Theological/Religious Studies
• Catechesis & Christian Education
• Leadership, Administration & Management
• Pastoral Care & Counselling

As part of their theological studies, the students cover a wide range of topics such as Old & New Testament Survey, Bible Doctrine, Ethics as well as practical instruction on pastoral/preaching and teaching ministries as well as marriage and family ministry. We want to ensure that our students have sound gospel doctrine and have the practical skills to make them useful labourers in the harvest field.

The college saw its first intake of students in September 2012 and classes are now well underway in the Diploma, Degree, Masters and PhD courses with a total of 80 students on the roll. Our college is the only place in the whole of Ethiopia where students can study for a Doctorate in Theology so many students are travelling from up to 60 miles each week to study at MTE-TC. Each student is required to sit an entrance exam and be interviewed by the college staff before being accepted into any course.

Currently, our College Dean, Dr Kebede Getachew and the Registrar, Major Tadesse are acting as full-time lecturers assisted by a number of guest lecturers. The college will have a maximum capacity of 300 students and we hope to reach this quota within the next 5 years. 

The college itself will be self-sufficient when it reaches full capacity and we hope in the future that it will be able to provide funds for setting up other bible colleges in different areas. We believe that the bible college is the first step in the plan for sending out trained bible students all over Ethiopia, Africa and beyond to spread the gospel.

Once again, we would like to thank everyone who has supported and prayed for the work in Ethiopia over the last year. We trust that this report has encouraged you and has shown what great things God is doing in Ethiopia. Please continue to keep this work in your thoughts and prayers.