It's Monday morning of our third training in Ambo, Ethiopia. Class has just begun (late, as usual). Three of our four classrooms are staffed with teachers who have been here previously. Therefore, we have less need for introductions and more time for what I look forward to very much: student testimonies.
One of the requirements of TLI's curriculum is for each trainee to teach the previous course material to others prior to the next training. In Ambo, the previous course, "Course 2: Knowing the Bible's Story," had left a lasting impression. The testimonies of how God used the leaders in my class to teach that material to others did not disappoint.
I began to jot down the numbers the trainees were throwing at me: 17 church leaders trained, 47 members of one church, every Sunday school class and committee in another church, the choir in another. Their testimonies continued until we came to Tesema.
Tesema pastors a church that's outside the denomination that we partner with in Ambo, the Ethiopian Addis Kidan Baptist Church (EAKBC). But Tesema was invited by the leaders of the EAKBC to join the cohort due to their respect for him and their desire to see his church and denomination receive more biblically based training.
Tesema confessed that it had only been within the year (dating back to the beginning of our trainings in Ambo) that he'd begun to open the Bible and preach to his congregation from Scripture. Without being able to fully articulate the transformation his church was experiencing, he simply shared that they were "different" now. That difference in Tesema's church was not only seen and felt by his congregation but by denominational leaders as well. Between Courses 2 and 3, Tesema's denomination invited him to teach TLI's curriculum to the leaders of each of their 28 churches—140 church leaders in all!
Pray for Tesema. As he acknowledges, "God has opened a door for me." Praise God that the impact of TLI's training in Ambo is reverberating to churches and denominations throughout the region.