Ethiopia, Africa

ETH02c - Support of Key Leaders

Partnership Ref.:



Worku Tafete



Funding Status:

Completed - Self-sustaining

Partnership Type:

Evangelism / Church Planting

Funding Size:

$0 - $2,999

Annual Budget:

US$ 0

Connected To:

ETH02a , ETH02b , ETH02d , ETH02k , ETH02l , ETH02m , ETH03


Population: 85.0 million

Life Expectancy: 54.7 years

GDP: US$333 per capita

Unemployed: 50.0%

77.6% earn less than US$2/day

Partnership Overview

At the heart of the Ethiopia partnership is the desire to grow the church in Northern Ethiopia. This growth is two-fold, to see existing leaders develop more skills and to empower them, and to facilitate the establishment of churches in new areas by sending out and equipping people to plant new churches. 

The two focus areas are the rural villages of the Amhara region and the towns and villages of the Gumuz people.

History of Partnership
In 2003 BHW personnel met a church leader in Auckland, New Zealand. He came to live in Auckland as a refugee from Ethiopia. While a refugee he came to believe in Jesus Christ. Now he was training to be a pastor and was very interested in returning to Northern Ethiopia to become involved in church planting.

Church planters trainingIn 2005 BHW and Worku Tafete went to Ethiopia. For Worku it was the first time back there for 21 years. It became very obvious that there were tremendous needs and opportunities in Northern Ethiopia. Worku introduced us to leaders of the evangelical churches in the North. They had developed strategies to reach their people but lacked resources. They had structures and vision but no funds.

Following this visit a partnership was commenced. An essential part of this was to train people from the few evangelical churches in the north of the country and to send them out to establish and develop new churches. In 2008 a number of new church planters were trained and sent out into the rural towns and villages of Northern Ethiopia. Their purpose was to help local people understand about the message of the Good News and to introduce them to Jesus Christ and His kingdom.

Over time many of these people have successfully planted new churches. Some have stayed on in those churches, others have moved to other locations and some have left this as a full time position. As the new churches have grown, these churches have taken up the responsibility of supporting their workers and in some cases have sent out other missionaries for training and for church planting.

Because of this, the number of people being financially supported has dropped significantly. In the Gumuz area there is an ongoing need to support and subsidise those who are full time developing new churches. The people in this area are very poor and have been resettled into villages from a nomadic lifestyle so the key people here continue to be supported. 

Over time the support of all this work will have to come from within Ethiopia so it was clear that it would be dangerous to continue growing the number of those supported to unsustainable levels. Along with this, those going out to do this work are encouraged to be bi-vocational and not dependant on others to support them.

Meal time at training


There are currently about 25 church planters being supported, mainly in the Gumuz area.

What We Like About The Partnership
There are many great aspects of this partnership opportunity:
- The people being reached in the Gumuz area are very responsive, this has become a Church Planting Movement
- There are a good number of churches coming in behind this initiative to support the work and the workers
- Real transformation is happening in the villages. God is very much at work and the testimonies are amazing.


Key People

Leadership Profile

The key person is Worku Tafete. He oversees the work here and has developed a number of key people to help him.

Worku spends most of the year in Ethiopia even though he is now a New Zealand citizen. 

Other People Involved 

Amazing guyPastor Damtew Tefera oversees the development in the Gumuz area where most of the new work is now concentrated. 

Pastor Damtew didn’t complete secondary school. While in Grade 9 he was caught up in the revolution. The Durg imprisoned him for seven years during which time he did not have one visit from anyone. His family had no idea where he was. He was tortured severely, at one time for a period of three months he was constantly beaten. He has no scars from that time, even emotionally he is OK and he has forgiven them. He says that Jesus completely healed him, physically and emotionally. Around 1988 he was released and soon after his friend told him about Jesus and he became a Christian. His family then rejected him and he left the area as it was so difficult to live. He came from a very staunch area of Ethiopia, the Temple of Life was in his village. 

He seems like a very gentle, pastoral person. He came to Gilgel Beles 16 years ago with 40 Birr in his pocket. He was not sent by his church, he felt a call to come to this place and had a passion for the Gumuz people. He is the key person in this town and area and Worku works through him here. He sees what is happening amongst the Gumuz as an answer to prayer and he is rapt. He has no formal training as a pastor, just a very strong call and obviously some degree of gift.

He is now in his 50's and has no children. There have been many changes in the communities of the Gumuz in recent years.  There was greater darkness in the past but now the lights are going on. Back then they walked around naked, now they are clothed. The changes are at every level, physically, educationally, mentally and spiritually. 

He loves being involved with Worku and training and encouraging the church planters. They have seen many miracles in recent times, healings, conversions and a boy who was raised from death. 

At the church in Gilgel Beles there are now about 120 adults meeting regularly. There is a mix of four different tribal people groups: Amhara, Gumuz, Shinasha and Agew.


TrainingVision and Annual Strategy

The vision is to continuously plant new churches in Northern Ethiopia to the point where it becomes a spontaneous church planting movement, not requiring much external imput. 

The strategy is to select and train local people who are willing to go out and become church planters. 


Personal Testimony

Real "Life Change" Stories

M (Church Planter)

M was 29 years old when he did the 3 months missionary training time in 2008. During that time he was very sick with appendicitis and underwent surgical treatment.  When he first went to the area that he now ministers in, he was very much challenged to get a rented house. After a time he found a house but the people who knew he was a preacher of the gospel opposed the owner of the house giving him the house to rent. However he was praying persistently about the people who opposed him and the people who lived around him.

A big conflict happened in the midst of the people because of him. After a while M prayed and testified about the beautiful love of God to the owner of the house which he had rented.  This man and his family received Jesus as their Saviour and Lord and now this man worships God with M. Another day he told a girl who prepares food for him about Jesus and after a month of praying and discussion she received Jesus. People are now coming to him to ask him about Jesus and asking him to pray for their problems. The number of Christians is now increasing every day. Praise God!

AT (Church Planter)

A's ministry area is A which is located near to the town of D. He is 31 years old and before he became a believer he was the Orthodox priest in that place. Some years before he received Jesus as his personal Saviour and Lord. A year before he came for training he started ministry as a missionary in that place. From that time until now he has passed through different persecutions from the area people but God protected him.

Recently 30 new people have been added to the kingdom of God by his ministry. God is using him in a very special way to rescue that area. As his leader said “we never expected this kind of ministry and fruit in his life, but God is just doing things in an unexpected way. He is just a blessing for our church and our people.” There are a lot of people who have decided to come to the kingdom of God.

GE (Convert)

G grew up, learned and finished high school and is now living in Dangela. He is 25 years old and soon after he finished high school, he joined a college and graduated as a school teacher but he could not get any work.

Because of this and other life pressures, he felt discouraged and hated life on earth so he started drinking a lot, chewing chat (a local drug) and smoking cigarettes. He says, “One day I was chewing chat and smoking cigarettes in a small house with some of my friends, just in the midst of that M entered the house where I was sitting. A while after M approached me in a very polite and touchable way and he started to tell me about God’s love of the world and for me too. As minutes passed, I was impressed very much by what he was telling me. Then I start crying and was very much touched. On that day I made a decision to receive Jesus Christ as my Saviour and Lord. Praise God starting from that day I am experiencing a kind of peace that I never had before.”

This happened 3 months ago and now he is free from any kind of alcohol and smoking and other drug addictions. M is teaching and praying for him regularly. Things have changed. “I have started to live a life that Christ intends for me. I am very happy and delighted; I want to thank God for what the Lord has done for me. Things are becoming bright for me now. I am finding a job now to work in my profession. I am very eager and hot to tell people about the life, the peace and the joy that I got. Praise God. “

TS (Convert)

TS lives in P M. He has lived with his family but some time ago he developed bad habits, he drank and smoked and fought with different people. He disturbed his family very much so he started to live and sleep in the street just outside the house. A told him about Jesus a lot of times and prayed for him. Out of the blue and surprising everyone, T turned up at church. Willingly he received Jesus as his personal saviour. Now he has gone back to his family and his life is completely changed. He has started worshipping God with Christians in P.