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Gurage Bible School (92926)

There are now some 200 evangelical churches among the Gurage people of Ethiopia, yet almost all are led by pastors from outside tribes. The Gurage need their own leaders, pastors and missionaries, but very few have theological training. So they decided to start a Bible school.

Together they raised about US$9,000 to purchase a small home to accommodate a Bible school teacher. They also invited Howard and Jo-Ann Brant, long-time SIM missionaries, to return to Gurage to help them establish the school.

A prize piece of land was purchased and in September 2011, the Bible school opened. There is no building yet, so the first class of 23 students meets in a nearby church. There are no desks, so they write on their laps. Electricity is sporadic, so they meet during the day. Having no dorm, they sleep on the floor of the church office. No running water means they wash their clothes and dishes in a nearby stream.

They needed a blackboard, so they cut a thin layer of wood in half, covered it with blackboard paint and propped it up on chairs. At first glance, the Bible school does not look like a school, but it is filled with students more thirsty to learn and more passionate about Jesus than their counterparts in many of the world’s greatest institutions of learning.

Student body

Each student is selected and sent by their church as a future leader. They come from all backgrounds and walks of life, from university students to others with almost no academic experience. They may get low marks on exams, but they are leading people to Christ and growing the most in their faith.

One student, Subsibe, cuts travel costs by walking to school. On weekends, he does a week’s worth of household chores. On Sunday mornings he preaches, and on Sunday afternoons he holds youth and women’s meetings. Then, every Monday morning before dawn, he sets out on the 25-mile hike to the Bible School. He arrives about 10:30 hot and sweaty, but with enough energy to participate in class!

PRAY

  • for God to tear down barriers that keep the Gurage from hearing and understanding the Good News of Christ’s love and forgiveness.
  • for the Bible school to develop many capable graduates.
  • that graduates who migrate to cities will be a strong witness in urban centers.

GIVE

If you would like to partner in the establishment of the new Gurage Bible School, please contact your nearest or SIM office or give online to project ET 92926. Thank you!

The Gurage are continuing to give sacrificially towards their dream. In one meeting, an elder pulled out a piece of paper on which was listed every member of his church. Beside each name was a number: 50, 20, 10 or 5. He explained that these were his people’s pledges to build a new Bible school. He pointed to some of the small pledges and said, “These are from my own children.”

LEGACY

Forty years ago, Howard and Jo-Ann Brant left North America for rural Ethiopia with a dream of bringing the gospel to the Gurage people. About three families followed Christ at that time. Howard and Jo-Ann lived, preached and served among them for more than three years; and in time, about 200 to 300 Gurage trusted Christ. Forced out by communist agitators, the couple devoted themselves to mission in other countries. In 2011, delaying retirement, they returned to the Gurage. Today, by the grace of God, there are about 20,000 believers!

“We came to Gurage for three years,” writes Howard. “Our heart’s desire is to leave behind some well-trained and qualified leaders for the Gurage church—and a facility to serve the students of the future.”

One student tells how his father heard Howard preach in his village 37 years ago. No one accepted Christ that day, but his father heard and understood the message. Years later the father believed and started a new church—his son, the pastor, is now studying in the Bible school.

photos by Howard Brant



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