Growing into Leadership
A faith-filled leader helps insure that God’s work continues among the Daasanech people in Ethiopia.
Dick and Donna Swart rejoice that God has raised up a committed Christian leader from among the people they serve as RCA missionaries. The Swarts serve alongside evangelist Berhanu of Ethiopia’s Kale Hiwot National Church, reaching out to and discipling Daasanech believers. Here, in excerpts from two recent letters to supporters, they share their hope for the future of the fledgling group of Daasanech believers.
March 2013: We thank God for Nanuk. Our evangelist Berhanu has been discipling and mentoring Nanuk for years now. Nanuk is an example of one who, as Hezekiah, does right in God’s eyes, who keeps his commands and does not cease to follow him.
Nanuk is bold in sharing his faith, praying with the sick, and leading the young church under Berhanu’s guidance. Recently he was appointed as an official evangelist with the national church, KHC, we work alongside. This connection with the larger body of Christ will help to insure continuation of the work here long after we are gone. We praise God for Nanuk and what he means for the spreading of the gospel here. This is a major step toward our team’s goal of firmly planting a self-propagating and sustainable indigenous church among the Daasanech.
April 2014: Shepherds are at the top of the totem pole [in the Daasanech culture], and having lots of cattle, sheep, and goats is everyone's goal. It is their money in the bank, their currency for getting wives and other goods. Those without cattle are fisherman and it is not a prestigious thing to be—just what you do to survive if you have no cattle.Even with committed leaders such as Nanuk, the work is slow and at times discouraging. The Daasanech area is in the midst of a lot of change now and influence from the outside. Ethiopia has realized the great resource of the Omo River, and a lot of private business has moved in to use the water for large industrial agriculture schemes. Also, there are other changes that will greatly affect life as they have known it for decades. These changes could bring in good things for the people—like employment, accessibility of goods, better infrastructure—but it seems the negative things that often come with progress and outside influence are having a far greater influence, giving them new “high places” to turn to. We cannot stop the changes happening, but know the gospel alone can protect them from the negative effects the change will have on their lives and culture.
We have told you about Nanuk. He came from a poor family with no wealth in cattle. He would be more on a fisherman level. Evangelist Berhanu saw potential in this young man and met with him regularly for teaching. Nanuk made the decision to follow Christ, and on the day he was baptized, so was another young woman whom he had come to know. We all witnessed their baptism at the Omo River, and directly after went to his village to witness their marriage, the first Daasanech Christian wedding.
Because of their faith, Nanuk and Marta have a better quality of life in every way. God has blessed them with two children and their place in the culture has changed. He is seen as a man of integrity and faith and he is sought out by others for prayer and help in times of need.
Nanuk is now the main leader in the church, officially commissioned as the first Daasanech evangelist by Kale Hiwot Church.
Pray for Nanuk’s efforts to spread the gospel among the Daasanech people.
Support mission work along the Omo River with a financial gift: www.rca.org/dswart.
Thank God for believers who are growing into leadership roles in the church.