Ethiopia evokes many images in the minds of people: what do you see? Do you think of deserts, camels, ancient civilizations? Or do you remember Haile Salassie, the Emperor that called himself the Lion of Judah, or the communistic regime or the Italian colonization? Or do you know about long distance runners from Ethiopia; the famine that exhausted a nation; the recent bloodshed for the past three years and now a new government and sudden peace and quiet? I simply chose a date on the calendar to go to Ethiopia and it happened to be the first week after the elections. Once again the Holy Spirit’s ‘Perfect Timing’! The United Nations Peace Keeping Monitoring Force for the national elections was still around. America also sent hundreds of youth workers to do life skills training in remote villages – all at the expense of America. The USA does so much for other countries without expecting anything else in return. God bless America.
How my trip to Ethiopia came about is amazing. Graham Unsworth arranged a meeting for me with three Ethiopian pastors in Birmingham. It took place in Birmingham’s Elim church office. The Elim pastor was also present. As I ministered to the Ethiopian pastors they wept and knelt down and asked me to lay my hands on them. One of them was pastor Lemma.
‘Ethiopia needs to hear your message! Will you come to Ethiopia?’ Lemma asked.
The Ethiopian Eunuch attended the celebrations in Jerusalem and returned home on his chariot when the Holy Spirit prompted Phillip the Evangelist to leave his very successful evangelistic campaign in Samaria and go to a lonely road in Gaza. I ask myself how many evangelists would do something like Phillip. And there he encountered the Eunuch a high court official who had command of all the treasures Candace, Queen of the Ethiopians. The man was reading from Isaiah about a lamb lead to the slaughter.
‘Who does the prophet speak about: himself or someone else?’ he asked Phillip.
Phillip began from that scripture and explained Jesus Christ to him. When he had finished the man noticed a pond of water and asked: ‘there’s water, what hinders me to be baptized?’ So obviously Phillip’s Gospel of Jesus Christ included water baptism of believers! I don’t know how anyone can separate immersion in water baptism from salvation. It is one package deal if I understand the Scriptures.
‘If you believe with all your heart, you may be baptized.’ Phillip explained. Both of them stepped out of the chariot and down into the water and Phillip baptized the man. When they came up out of the water (so he did not simply sprinkle water on his head as some would have us believe) Phillip was supernaturally caught away and found himself in Azotus.
Azotus means ‘stronghold’ the seat of Dagon the god of the Philistines. Evangelists are called to areas where there are strongholds of the devil to break open the gates of the enemy so that churches can be planted. Thank God for true evangelists! One man can make a difference to a nation! So the Eunuch was the first Christian who brought the full Gospel message of Jesus Christ to Ethiopia about at 40 AD making Ethiopia the cradle of Christianity in Africa.
Pastor Lemma arranged the meetings for me both in Addis Ababa and in Batujira, about 150km away. Addis Ababa means ‘new flower’. ‘Ijesus Getano’ means Jesus is Lord. It has tremendous power in the spirit realm where there is much witchcraft and demonic activity.
I ministered in Pastor Lemma’s home the first night and met his wonderful family who are all in ministry with him. They were amazed to hear that the Pelser family has been in the ministry for four generations already.
‘This is something new to us. We thought it was strange that all my sons want to be in the ministry as well. But now we are encouraged by your family to be a ministry family!’
On Saturday I ministered to a group of leaders. I spoke about the need and the benefits of accepting the full fivefold ministry and showed them the illustration I always use of the hand that cannot make a fist without the thumb. The apostle represents the thumb, the index finger the prophet, the middle finger the evangelists that reaches out the furthest, the ring finger is the pastor and the little finger that easily goes into the ear represents the teacher.
Salam, a lady, interpreted my message into Amharic, the Ethiopian language.
Afterwards the presence of the Lord was so real, we all wept because the Lord touched our hearts and ministered to us. There was such an awareness of His love and grace. They anointed me with oil and thanked God that he made it possible for me to be there. Many pastors offered to arrange crusades and pastor’s seminars for me; ‘your message is what we need here in Ethiopia!’ they kept on saying.
‘Your message is unforgottable!’ someone said. I have never heard that word before but it makes perfect sense. Because I act out the Word, the picture remains in their minds long after the words are gone.
Apostle Andre Pelser