By Chuck Eckerson
Our time at the Houston, Texas, Ethiopian Christians Fellowship Church February 10-12 was one of the most amazing ministry experiences we have ever had. We were invited to lead a HomeBuilders training Friday night and to speak at their annual Valentine’s Day program on Saturday. The church plans to use HomeBuilders groups as one of their main marriage ministries this year, along with large events such as the Valentine’s program.
Every couple at the HomeBuilders training on Friday night was handpicked by the senior pastor and the elders, and these couples will all lead groups. We trained 24 people, mostly couples. This is the first time in our lives when we knew that the couples we were training were really going to do what they were trained to do. The church will have 14 HomeBuilders groups, and every married couple in the church has been assigned to a specific HomeBuilders group. While the pastors and elders acknowledge that not every couple will participate, they want to get as close to 100% participation as possible.
At the training, we had the leader couples pray for several minutes for the couples assigned to be in their HomeBuilders groups. Everyone prayed out loud in Amharic and all at the same time. It was a very special experience just to be in the room as that happened.
We spoke at the church’s annual Valentine’s Day program on Saturday. It was a fancy event in a ballroom at a high-end hotel beautifully adorned with Valentine’s decorations. The couples dressed up and enjoyed a three-course meal, a time of worship, and a marriage testimony. We spoke on romance and sexual intimacy and gave them an application project to complete there and another one to do at home.
At their church service Sunday morning, Pastor Tesfa, who attended our sessions with his wife, Wuhib, spoke very positively about the training Friday and the Valentine’s program Saturday. Pastor Tesfa is an influential, well-respected, and well-connected pastor in the community of Ethiopian churches, not only in the US but also in Ethiopia. The Ethiopian Christians Fellowship Church has a midwest regional conference in August. The pastor and elders in Houston are already talking about getting a time-slot for a breakout session to present FamilyLife.
The ministry at this church illustrates a very interesting opportunity. If we can find ways to introduce and train churches with foreign national identities in our own countries to use FamilyLife, it could have a tremendous ripple effect outside of our borders. In this case, for example, people in this church know the Amharic language. They know the Ethiopian culture. And they have connections in their network of Ethiopian churches across the United States, in Ethiopia, and in other countries all around the world! These couples are equipped with the assets needed to reach their own kinsmen with the gospel of Jesus Christ and the biblical truths for marriage and families. The potential is amazing.