ONE @ 50: Ethiopia’s Sleeping Giant

In honor of ONE magazine’s 50th-anniversary year, the CNEWA blog series, ONE @ 50: From the Vault, aims to revive and explore the wealth of articles published in ONE magazine throughout its history. In this article, originally published in Winter 2016, read about lay leaders’ efforts to help Ethiopian Catholic and Orthodox young adults connect with their faith as many find themselves turning to evangelical Christianity.

Read an excerpt from “Ethiopia’s Sleeping Giant” below, then read the full story.

“Urggh!” exclaims 20-year-old Bethlehem, pulling her two fists apart from against her chest, struggling not to erupt into laughter.

“That’s it, good job; open your heart to the truth,” says Nancy Greenhaw, inviting some 200 other university students to join in playfully miming the act.

These young Ethiopian university students have come to the city of Bahir Dar — located about 250 miles northwest of the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, and famed for Lake Tana and its island monasteries — for a weekend catechetical program, albeit one with evangelical fervor.

The Catholic Eparchy of Bahir Dar-Dessie organized the program as part of an effort to address the growing phenomenon of young Ethiopians leaving the traditional sacramental Christianity of the Ethiopian Catholic and Orthodox churches for the evangelical Christianity preached by itinerant preachers scattered throughout Ethiopia.

“The Catholic Church belongs to you — it’s your church, you make it what you want it to be,” announces Mrs. Greenhaw’s husband, Lloyd, in a rich baritone. He points to the gathered students. “You can do away with the division and scandal in the church.”

Read more.

James Jeffrey is a business journalist based in Addis Ababa. His work has appeared in African Business magazine and the Austin Business Journal.

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