Insights from the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church
The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (EOTC) has exhibited exceptional leadership in the face of a leadership crisis impacting millions in Ethiopia. The church has a rich history in Ethiopia and Africa, having made significant contributions to the advancement of Christianity. This includes Bible translation and distribution, education, preserving literature and historical records, and defending the country from outside colonizers. The significance of the EOTC is further highlighted by UNESCO’s recognition as a World Heritage site, acknowledging its significant impact on Ethiopia's rich cultural and religious heritage.
I care for my country Ethiopia. I am deeply concerned about the ongoing crisis, which is fueled by ethnic divisions. In this blog post, I will share the four leadership lessons I observed from the EOTC's response to the current crisis from mid-January 2023 to the 11th of February 2023.
In his book Managing Leadership Anxiety, Steven Cuss defines leadership as knowing what to do. The EOTC leaders, through prayer and fasting, integrity, boldness, and clear communication, have effectively responded to the crisis.
The crisis in Ethiopia stems from an ethnic-based political structure that has divided the country, including its churches. In response, the EOTC, as a believer in the God of the Holy Bible, called for a three-day national prayer and fasting time, with its priests and members wearing black sackcloth. This drew large crowds to the EOTC church, overflowing to streets and villages throughout the country. The church made a clear announcement that her plea for justice and unity would continue unless the government changed its course and became willing to discuss the matter urgently.
Despite the government's initial cancellation of the peaceful public demonstration, the EOTC stood its ground and continued with her request. This led to the government opening its door for the leadership of the EOTC, led by Holy Patriarch Abune Mathias, to meet with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and his cabinet, resulting in a swift change in the government's political and divisive agenda. The religious, legal, and political negotiations are ongoing, and the full results are yet to be seen.
The first leadership lesson from the EOTC's response to the crisis is the significance of prayer and fasting. The church rightfully called for three days of prayer and fasting with its priests and members wearing black sackcloth. This demonstrates the church's reliance on God rather than earthly power and drew support from other religious communities, including Catholic, Evangelical, and Muslim, as well as the Interfaith Council of Ethiopian Religions.
The second leadership lesson is the EOTC's upholding of integrity. The church upheld its integrity by following biblical principles and a peaceful, legal process despite the opposition of those in power. The EOTC also showed respect and dignity to humanity, as all people are created in the image of God, and opposed ethnic divisions, killing innocent people, and preventing self-appointed politically motivated groups from taking over part of the EOTC.
The third leadership lesson is the EOTC leader's boldness in the face of danger. As Darcy Eikenberg defines leadership as “The courage to do the right things even when they are hard.” The EOTC remained determined to stand by its faith despite the political turmoil. The church guided its members to practice spiritual and peaceful activities over violence, demonstrating exceptional spiritual leadership.
The fourth leadership lesson is the EOTC's clear and transparent communication. The priests communicated regularly with grace and favor to their members and the nation, unifying the members within the country and the diaspora and mobilizing support for their cause globally. Additionally, Abune Petros, the Secretary-General of the Holy Synod, redirected political issues outside the church and kept the church's business focused on spiritual matters. This approach aligns with Jesus's response to those who sought to twist his teachings and asked him, "Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar?" (Matthew 22:17). The EOTC's clear communication and separation of spiritual and political matters demonstrates how leaders can maintain their focus on their core mission and values, even in challenging circumstances.
In conclusion, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (EOTC) has demonstrated remarkable leadership in the face of a crisis that has impacted millions in Ethiopia.
1. Prayer and fasting
2. Upholding integrity
3. Exhibiting boldness
4. Clear communication, the EOTC has shown valuable leadership lessons that can be learned from their response to the crisis. By following the EOTC's leadership example, individuals and organizations can navigate leadership crises with wisdom, integrity, courage, and effective communication.
I pray this movement in EOTC brings a continued spiritual revival in the nation and leadership transformation in the country.
A call for prayer and #NoMore movement
I want to attempt to share my opinion and observations about the current situation in Ethiopia. Because, for many reasons, I believe you are not getting the complete picture from the mainstream media outlets. But first, why do I care? Why should we all care about the current situation in Ethiopia? I care to write this to you because I am a responsible citizen, and I care about my country. Ethiopia is home to 110 million proud people. And it’s the home of the African Union.
I care for the youth and children whose future is taken away from them by political and corrupted leaders. There are more than 20 million students in Ethiopia, and they deserve a country free from ethnic-based conflict.
Furthermore, the population in Ethiopia is youthful, with more than 60% of the people are under the age of 30. This young generation is such a great asset for a bright future. Consequently, the youth in Ethiopia deserve freedom from corrupted TPLF leaders who have already led the country with an iron fist for 27 years.
You will find the full story on my Medium platform here
Finding Comfort (Video)
In some cultures, names are given with a purpose and meaning as it was in the Biblical times. This is true in countries like Ethiopia and Ghana. For example, my Amahric name Miheret means mercy. My mom has a full explanation for why she called me Miheret.
A few days ago, I helped produce a digital missions story about Comfort and her journey of discovering Jesus on her mobile phone. I met Comfort at a digital conference in 2018. Watch this incredible 7-minute story, "I am Comfort” and find out what God has done and now is doing in the life of Comfort!
Imagine thousands of people who are finding Jesus like Comfort. This is what we do to help seekers find Jesus online, grow in their faith, and train them to share the gospel with others. Comfort's story shows a full circle of digital ministry impact. Comfort now serves with our local ministry in Ghana.
We feel so honored to have you on this journey with us! God has done great things these last few years and we are so blessed to call you friends and partners.
The last couple of months, I have been immersed in navigating our analytics migration process from one platform to a new one. Wikipedia defines Analytics as the systematic computational analysis of data or statistics. It is used for the discovery, interpretation, and communication of meaningful patterns in data. It also entails applying data patterns towards effective decision-making.
I want to share with you about one of the leading evangelistic websites Cru offers in 42 languages, EveryStudent.com. The following graphs show the trends of indicated decisions to accept Jesus over the last 10 years.
And the following numbers show the number of visitors and indicated decisions for the last 10 years on EveryStudent.com.
You might be asking different questions seeing those numbers. Let me share with you one exciting example with how God is at work.Meet Kelly, a student at Mamitete Technical College, in Malawi. In 2020, due to the COVID-19 crisis, he was browsing several websites looking for truth and hope and then came across our evangelistic website, everystudent.com, where he eventually indicated a decision for Christ.
Soon after. Kelly was followed up by Douglas, one of our staff members, and was embraced in the leadership groups, which was meeting online. Douglas began discipling Kelly one-on-one online with an invitation to join a WhatsApp Bible Study group.
Shortly after, Kelly, now empowered to share the gospel, reached out to 21 collegemates online with a gospel presentation, with 5 of them giving their lives to Christ! Since the month of May 2020, Kelly has been ministering to 15 students on his campus virtually.
As a result, a spiritual movement launched on the Namitete campus for the first time. This college is one of the six campuses opened digitally during our ministry Hope2020 campaign.
When the restriction of the lockdown is eased and students are back on campus, Kelly and his team are able to meet face to face and continue to share the good news of Jesus among students.
This is such a great opportunity in our generation to share the gospel to every corner of the earth online. And we know behind every mobile device, there is a person. Every person has a story. Every story matters to God.
The New Normal
What will you do when everything you have worked on to achieve your goal vanishes?
We tend to set ambitious goals and strategic plans a year or more in advance. Things were “normal” until the end of 2019. In December I got married surrounded by many I loved, with no thought of social distancing. Then everything changed drastically and rapidly.
Faced with uncertainty, it can be tempting to continue to lead with the goals you set pre-COVID. Rather than waiting for things to go back to normal, however, you can take risks to pursue your dreams diligently with new innovative ideas.
I believe God has blessed us with digital strategies to continue striving for our goals despite an unpredictable 2020. The primary skill required here is not being technical, but being agile. Are you willing to pivot and run ministry as a continuous experiment to reach your audience?
We recently launched the Digital Academy 2.0 to equip you and your teams with basic digital strategy principles, tools and models. In a recent webinar, we discussed the need for innovation and digital transformation in Cru and gave a sneak peek of The Basics series as practical next steps for participants.
Take for example, Yomi Adeyinka, our digital champion in Nigeria. Yomi is going through The Basics with his 27 co-workers, including the Great Commission Movement Nigeria’s national team leader. After watching each training video individually, they come together on WhatsApp to reflect on the content. Yomi and his team are taking on new projects as they go through The Basics. His one-sentence description for The Basics is as follows: “It’s short, clear and straight to the point with a sample and worksheet.”
Why wait? Experience it for yourself like Yomi.
You can take risks to pursue your dreams diligently with new innovative ideas. - Miheret Tilahun
Join us in digital missions
Join us in digital missions as we launch a global hackathon starting today. Watch my friend Simon Seow shares the heart behind digital missions.
There Is Hope campaign transforms lives
This post was first shared on Indigitous.org.
The coronavirus disrupted everything. Our ministry made a number of pivots. It required taking risks — big and small. We took a risk to see if we could link people’s need for prayer with an experience of being prayed for plus a Gospel presentation. We called the experiment There Is Hope.
We are doing three things with this experiment:
“I hope I can be prayed for on this platform…Please pray for me and beg God on my behalf to forgive me and grant me one last chance.” This desperate request was sent to us by a young man named Justin*. Justin is a fetish priest. He wrote to us after an online prayer experience organized to give hope to Nigerians during the pandemic. The event had attracted more than 16,000 people on Facebook over the last five weeks. It is easy for many people to say yes to receiving prayer!
Samuel, a missionary in Nigeria, received one of the contacts generated by a “There Is Hope” prayer event. As he connected with this person, Yusuf, he found out that Yusuf was contemplating suicide. As a result of Samuel’s conversation and prayers, Yusuf decided not to attempt suicide. But it didn’t end there. Yusuf later met a lady, Aisha, who told him that she was thinking about suicide. Yusuf then shared his experience with her about the encouragement he received in Jesus when he, too, had been contemplating suicide. Aisha was so encouraged that she decided not to continue with her plans.
In a live event hosted in the Philippines, we saw 72 people indicate their decision to receive Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. The thousands of prayer requests we have received from all these countries have similar trends. People are experiencing loneliness, fear and anxiety, relationship struggles, health challenges and financial struggles. People need hope that only God can provide. The There Is Hope campaign aims to help them experience that hope.
* Editor’s note: For security reasons, all names have been changed.
This blogpost was first shared on equipping4eministry.com
I’m sure by now most of you are aware of The Blessing by Kari Jobe and Cody Carnes. This beautiful song went viral in a short period of time. It was such a prophetic and anointed one right before the global pandemic. Singers from all over the world adopted this song into their languages, cultures, and music arrangements. I have seen city mayors, influencers, and people at every level engaging with this music as their own. It would be neat to see the impact through detailed analytics.
I have been reflecting on this song and what I learn from it. The number of views is huge . . . not just in English but in all the languages shared on YouTube.
The original video has 18,665 comments. All these engagements are organic (I’m not sure if there was any paid advertising by the music owners). I even saw some comments from people sharing how they received Jesus Christ.
I continued scrolling the comment sections and couldn’t believe what I was reading. People are choosing joy over their suffering. Others are still asking for justice, healing, and even favor from God in a humble spirit. People are sharing their stories with the World.
There are 368K thumbs up… and 7.3K thumbs down. I ask myself, “Why did they give thumbs down for this music?” I’m sure some viewers have more questions for God and for us.
So what, Miheret?
Watching the video encouraged me, but left me with more questions. I was frustrated. This video could be a great opportunity for deeper spiritual conversations and for building online communities. How can we seize these opportunities? The people commenting on YouTube matter to God. Many may need a community where they could grow in their walk with Jesus Christ.
How Do We Seize Viral Opportunities for Christ?
Several social media links are under the video description, but no invitations. Did any of the 23+ million viewers need and find answers or community?
Of course, this global engagement is bigger than one church could handle. How do we help the body of Christ to win, build, and send Christ-centered multiplying disciples? Do we have tools and strategies for this kind of opportunity or do we need new ones?
I imagined more but will stop here. I pray every person touched by this music finds a community where they can impact their world for Jesus. May this even be true for those who are still angry with God.
May we be the ones who help. Let’s face the new world today to be relevant for tomorrow.
Let's Go Digital - Here's How!
“...Has anything like this ever happened in your days?...” Prophet Joel asked this question to elders and everyone who listened. Joel 1:2
Just like in Joel’s time, we are asking ourselves, "What explanation can be given for what is happening around the world right now? Who thought a flu-like virus could shut down all regular activities almost everywhere in the world?" In our generation, this is one of the biggest global phenomena we are witnessing.
A few days after the Cru Digital Strategy core team meetings, we immediately started shaping our communication to help fellow staff members fully shift into digital ministry opportunities. This is the time where our global digital strategy team is stretching to serve all Cru ministries to pivot into digital space.
Together with your ministry partnership, in the last 7 days, we are seeing 197 countries reached with COVID-related articles to help spiritual needs (fear, anxiety, and suffering) in our global digital ecosystem. 92 decisions for Christ via COVID-19 pages across Everystudent.com sites
Starting tomorrow, on March 25-27, the Indigitous community will be hosting five regional webinars curated in five continents (Asia, Africa, Europe, North America, and South America) on practical digital ideas and tools that will help leaders engage in this challenging season. So far we have 1,500 people registered for all of these webinars already!
If you are interested, signup for one of the webinars to learn more about new ways of doing ministry during COVID-19 and answering these questions:
- How do we reach people online?
- How do we disciple people online?
- How do we do church online?
The relationship bridge of technology is more important than ever! You can care for the people of your congregation or network, and invite those who are far from Jesus to experience love, forgiveness, and community found in Him, using digital strategies. You can have a growing, effective ministry over distance and we want to help!
Please forward this to friends and church leaders you know by sharing the links on the left.
Miheret T. Eshete