A Place To Belong (Ethiopia in the Alliance – Part 1)
The C&MA excels at taking the gospel to the nations, but what about when the nations come to us? Do we welcome them as brothers and sisters? What if their worship style and culture are distinctly different? Do we simply assume that ethnic churches prefer to “stay among their own”?
Pastor Teame Desta of Addis Kidan Evangelical Church in Aurora, Colorado, would encourage us to “Remember, America is also a mission field. Don’t be afraid to talk to ethnic groups and encourage ethnic churches. The Alliance is supporting us to grow and reach our people. Don’t be afraid of reaching the ethnic church.”
Currently, more than 20 Ethiopian and Eritrean* churches are found in more than a dozen districts of the Alliance. Estimates show that the Ethiopian and Eritrean population in Denver exceeds 30,000. Other American cities have large concentrations of immigrants from these African countries, many who came to escape religious persecution. They arrive looking for familiarity and a place to belong. Addis Kidan is the story of a church longing to belong.
Pastor Teame was born and raised in Ethiopia. He came to faith while his homeland was under communist rule. “It was a tough time,” he explains, “to believe [in Jesus] was almost deciding to die for Him.” Yet he felt called to serve Christ all over the country, leading a lay ministry movement while working as an economist for the government, but God wanted more from him. When a door opened at a seminary in Denver, he went through it. He planned to return to Ethiopia after graduation, but when a group asked him to stay and lead them in reaching the growing Ethiopian population, he willingly accepted.
Addis Kidan (“New Covenant”) began in 1999 as a home Bible study. It eventually faced a good but difficult challenge – it needed a home. Each time they arranged to meet in another church’s facility, a complication arose. “It became a nightmare,” Pastor Teame explained. He considered dissolving the now 300-member fellowship because they simply couldn’t find a place to meet.
God provided. Pastor Jonas Wharton and the Aurora Alliance Church invited Addis Kidan to share their space indefinitely. For more than three years, the congregations ministered side-by-side, until God provided a place of their own. Sooner than expected, another Ethiopian church in the area wanted to sell to Addis Kidan — immediately.
“We were not ready when they approached us. Everything came suddenly,” explained Pastor Teame. “ADF understood our situation and helped us. They wanted us to have this beautiful church building. Another church was competing with us, and ADF was able to expedite the situation.”
After 15 years, with the help of an Alliance church and ADF, Addis Kidan finally found a place to call home.