February 7, 2013

Global Notebook: Ethiopian Roundtable Kicks Off

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Representing EduDeo Ministries on the ground in Ethopia and South Sudan, EduDeo Executive Director Hank de Jong joined a number of key Christian educators and church leaders from across Sub-Saharan Africa at the Ethiopian Roundtable in Adama, Ethiopia today.

Joined by Hamilton-based camera operator Ryan Geleynse, Hank is an international participant at the Ethiopian Roundtable.  The two-day gathering is a follow-up event following the ACSI Africa Roundtable in South Africa in August 2012.  A partnership between CH Global, ACSI Africa and EduDeo Ministries, the goal of the roundtable is to set the stage for prayer, high level discussion and strategic development to strengthen existing and establish new Christian schools in Ethiopia.

A country with a rich heritage of Christian faith, Ethiopian church leaders and faith-based educators are calling for a new generation of Ethiopian believers to lead Africa in a time of revival and renewal.  

“Ethiopia is a unique county with a strong Christian foundation,” Hank noted.

“Many Ethiopians take pride their nation remained free of Western colonialism.  There is growth in infrastructure across the country, but especially in the capital city, Addis Ababa.  Much of the infrastructure development in Ethiopia is a result of outside investment, leading to job creation.  Despite economic growth, there is also a clear shortage of water resources in the country.  The streets are flooded with people and donkeys carrying yellow jugs in the hope of finding water.  Some families walk for miles, including young children.”

In a nation of growing investment and economic activity, delegates came to the Ethiopian Roundtable with a sense of optimism and hope.

Local pastor Rev. Mekonnen Geremew welcomed delegates, opening the first day of the roundtable with prayer and devotions.  The dynamic pastor provided delegates with a historical overview of the church and Christian education in Ethiopia, noting the country’s traditional Christian roots.  Despite a strong historical Christian presence, the country lacks a strong Christian school movement.  Rev. Geremew lamented the loss of an emerging generation as the Ethiopian church struggles with cultural relativism.  The local pastor concluded his address by calling the Ethiopian church to recognize the importance of Christ-centred education in raising a new generation and bringing glory to God.

Rev. Geremew’s opening address was followed by a keynote speech by Dr. Samson Makhado, Director of the Association of Christian Schools International Africa (ACSI Africa).  Dr. Makhado commended his Ethiopian hosts for recognizing the importance of integrating the Gospel in the classroom, calling the educators and church leaders present to embrace Africa’s growing Christian school movement.

Citing a number of key challenges facing Africa, including Islam, Animism, dualism, secularism and disunity in the church, Dr. Makhado stressed the importance of a Christ-centred education and Gospel-centred teachers in the transformation of culture.  The Christian school advocate also stressed the need for a comprehensive, Biblical worldview in the classroom.

Following lunch, Executive Director Hank de Jong, gave an overview presentation on the vision and mission of EduDeo Ministries in various countries across the globe.  Hank provided delegates with a summary of Mike Goheen and Craig Bartholemew’s book, ‘The Drama of Scripture,’ stressing the importance of an understanding of the Biblical story and how it applies to all of life.

“I stressed the importance of how understanding the church’s mission in the world gives validity to the importance of Christ-centred education,” Hank noted.

“We not only invest in Christian education to lead children to Christ, but to lead students to understand their role as ambassadors of Christ in a sin-tainted world.  Each professing Christian, with the power of the Spirit, plays a role in ushering in God’s Kingdom, when redemption will be complete (Act 6).”

The final segment of the day was spent in small groups to develop a strategy for Christian education in Ethiopia.

“EduDeo Ministries is honoured to play a role at the Ethiopian Roundtable,” Hank remarked. 

“We heard how our Walking Together teacher training program is clearly made an impact in Ethiopia.

The Ethiopian Roundtable concludes Friday, February 8.  Following the roundtable, Hank, joined by Ryan Geleynse, is planning to document ‘Walking Together’ teacher training efforts in South Sudan.


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