Starting in 1985, a younger generation of Orthodox
Christian leaders has been addressing the growth of Protestants in new ways.
The Mahibere Kidusan reform movement, for example, grew from resistance to the atheist Derg junta, which ruled Ethiopia from 1975 to 1987. Leaders adopted many of the methods of the Pentays [non-Orthodox churches]. They encouraged Orthodox authorities to establish Sunday schools, using the same hands-on approach to Bible study as many Protestant groups. In 1991, the church hierarchy officially blessed this reform group.
Aba Yesus Moa, a priest at the 1,000-year-old St. Mariam's Orthodox Church in Hosaena, said he has embraced these changes. "When I was young," he said, "there were no Protestant churches around here." Moa, who was wearing a black skull cap and shawl, added, "Now they are everywhere."
Moa said there is much to be admired about how the Protestants have grown their denominations in Ethiopia. "They are sharing strong feelings, and they have strong teachers," he said. "Some people have left the Orthodox Church, and they have told us, 'We would have stayed if you would have given those things to us.'"
That's when Moa decided to change his approach....
Dear Jetavan, I just read the title of this thread and obviously got curious as to know what exactly could the Ethiopian Orthodox Church have learnt from the expansion of evangelicals, as I was reading I found it mixing facts with insinuated misinformation once more , however knowing the source I was not much surprised, although it got few things correct, the overall getting credit was incredulous to me. forgive me if I do not agree that the church used protestant methods to 'reform' itself. I will explain what I mean by this.
first of all the Sunday schools that Mahibere Kidusan was said to have encouraged the leaders into establishing , that is a wrong information to put it mildly, Mahibere Kidusan itself is established under existing Sunday School Department of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, this association was initially comprised of students of higher education they were trained to become double edged sword as we like to call it, to be trained in their secular education and at the same time to be trained in the theology of the Orthodox Church, to preserve and defend The Faith. so we can keep what the Fathers have already given us into the new generation plagued with atheism and other heresies. in Ethiopia at that time, where all theological schools were closed, and sunday schools being monitored it was not an easy fit to achieve. so outside the city limits with few select students the then Archbishop of Showa the late Abune Gorgoryos of Eternal Memory, used the traditional school of the church to train these soldiers of the Faith out of sight of those that would have stopped it if they knew. of course the few became tens of thousands quickly by the grace of the Holy Spirit, through the prayer of the saints. the first requirement of being part of this association was and still is for the students to be members of their own parish sunday schools, since they all had come from different parishes,under the patronage of different saints, when they regime demanded that the University students to be drafted into the civil war they all went and formed a one association under the patronage of all the saints they got the name ' mahebere kidusan' which means ' association in the name of Saints'. this association uses the format of Sunday School Ministry , in such it has all the departments of teaching using various forms, humanitarian work,restoration of Church's and monasteries via financial and technical help etc.. all these departments are originally the format of all sunday schools which have existed before them. what they have successfully done is to organise them all into one association that works synergistic manner to fulfil the need of the church and her faithful.
secondly, the so called hands on approach to Bible study as many protestant groups , ehm forgive me but it was hilarious to me, because there is nothing remotely protestant like to the bible study of these associations, well unless protestants have started to use the commentaries of the Church Fathers , the strict adherence to Tradition in interpretation of Scripture and manner of studying the Bible, where there is no as you see fit interpretation that is seen in the hands on bible studies of the protestant groups, these Sunday Schools teach the Scriptures with strict adherence to Tradition and as they are schools there is a hands on interaction between the teachers and the students that has been practiced since the faith has been practiced in the country that's for 2000 years now. so the method was still there although the truth is the number of students in sunday schools and those who even read the bible on their own were woefully few because of the strong persecution of the church by the communist regime who had planned the subtle annihilation of the church , and quite effectively was depriving her of any learned faithful who could preserve the faith , by killing those it can directly or indirectly drafting the church youth and sunday school servants to the war front, a system the regime could have claimed to have learnt from king David, when you want the wife send the husband to his death and look innocent! The Church survived by the grace of God. Those few that remained continued to battle against all odds, ironically the first full canonical Orthodox Bible was printed during this regime for the benefit of the faithful to reach them with this means to encourage them to read the Word of God. these were the political and social situations that hindered the Orthodox Church from doing her apostolic work to a full extent.
now the protestant Church's do have a way of capitalising on emotions and their preachers are good at what they do. in a sense one has to respect their skill, even while one totally abhors their method. the first victims of such an emotional performance from the pulpit are usually the young. they are told they get saved by faith alone, and the orthodox church is a demonic spirit that would stop them from being saved. they get charged emotionally and led astray with arrogance and hate. the charismatics they follow teach them to foam on the mouth and convulse when they receive' the spirit' and once that is accomplished they are their own Bishops and the crusade begins against the orthodox church. away with fasting, away with all the prostrations, away with confession, away with Holy Eucharist, and even those that say they have communion its only a symbol, some go to be baptised in the name of Jesus. some stop drinking wine and accuse all others who do as sinners and drunkards, while they go about the neighborhood in their holier than thou attitude,humility seems to be of major shortage around there. they advocate that anything that has to do with Doctrine is bad news, we do not need to know about doctrinal issues, all we need to do is say Jesus is lord, and bam! you get saved. then the rest of the bible education circulates around how evil the orthodox world is and how to combat it to win more people for Jesus from that Church. Do I sound harsh? biased ? unfair? It might be the case but I can only say that I say what I know first hand about the protestants in Ethiopia.
after seeing the heresy that comes with the much learning of the bible the protestants claim to have, the general public elected to use the system of abstinence from reading the bible by themselves, as away of protecting themselves from falling into heresy by the wrong understanding of the letter of the word. this was a sad side effect of the lack of the freedom to teach the public by the church, and the public desperate attempt to hold on to their Faith and Holy Tradition. it got bad to the point that people started to be suspicious of those who use the name of Jesus too often in what they perceive to be an irreverent manner to be infected with the new heresy of the pentes, who say that Jesus is their best friend. and if one starts to read the bible too often, one is warned to be careful of what one is doing, this of course was a desperate time.and they were spiritually speaking on survival mode.' hold on to your Faith and Tradition until such time we get the freedom to learn from our trusted orthodox teachers.' I often correlate it, with the termoil that the angels went through at a time where God seemed hidden away from them, our tradition tells of a time when Lucifer claimed to be God and the Arch Angel Gabriel saying let us abide in faith, until our Creator revels Himself to us, and st Michael like his name saying 'Menu keme Egziabher'/' Who is Like God?!' it was a time of great need by the angels and Lucifer capitalised on it and managed to get one third of the angels along with him in heresy. in the case of Ethiopia, the evangelicals of the west have found that Ethiopian Orthodox Church in great persecution within the country and they perceived that time to be a time to move for the kill. to once and for all to get rid of the Church, thus the whole focus of the so called ' evangelisation' is directed toward training people who seemed to be brainwashed into waging a fulfilled attack against the church , the new main weapon of their choice is ' infiltration and destruction from within the church' that is become clergy, monastic, sunday school teacher, parish council etc, and oppose everything the church holds to be true.
What you are seeing in Ethiopia now is the result of the relatively conducive environment for the work of the church, the closed Theological seminaries being opened , new ones being established, the dedication and expansion of educated faithful associations such as Mahebere Kidusan across the country and abroad, the ability to publish theological books , DVDs, music, etc freely to make the knowledge of the Faith and Tradition accessable to all the faithful that has dramatically altered the momentum of the youth that was being preyed upon by the charismatics by the 'Only Jesus', etc in general as they are known in Ethiopia the 'Pentes'. Now many are coming back to the church thanks be to God, and some who have been persecuting the church are now her defenders. Certainly Christ can work even in those congregations to guide those who seek Him earnestly and sincerely. providing solace and healing to those who otherwise would not have anyone to provide it to them. to those who have never heard the Gospel many have heard it through these evangelical missionaries and having heard it some have eventually found their way into the Orthodox Faith. for this reason I have deep respect for those who are true seekers of the Christian Truth, and those who walk in faith and humility with basic respect for others among them, it is truly a one of a kind experience when you meet such people among the protestants.I am a strong believer in freedom of speech , and freedom of religion, anyone can utilise their God given freedom to chose their faith, it is the abusing others faith on their respective turf that I do oppose as strongly certain boundaries must be respected and certain courtesies must be given. I believe in dialogue to solve differences and problems however, it is not an enjoyable experience when you sit to discuss the truth and one party has ear plugs on and wants the sol controle of the microphone.
As far as the accusation that priests carrying machetes and killing a pastor, I found that very hard to believe as the orthodox priests do not even kill animals for eating purposes which is a traditional custom in Ethiopia, to slaughter the lambs, chickens etc,. and a priest is not allowed to spill any blood.A priest who kills humans in the name of the faith is totally ridiculous accusation. such tragedies such as the one mentioned occur not by the initiation of the priests as the reporters would have us believe but by the initiation of some misguided youth zeal and political agitators who have their own agenda to achieve.
Now I ask forgiveness from my protestant friends who might get to read this post and judge it to be too harsh among other things, it was necessary to point out certain facts as they apply to my Faith and my Church as an Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo faithful , as it is my duty and my privilege to do so. please feel free to correct me on any matter that might need correction as you see it.
those who are interested to know about Mahibere Kidusan you can read about them on their website http://eotc-mkidusan.org/English/MahibereKidusan/index.htm
thus I conclude sharing my politically incorrect view of this matter
May the Peace of the Lord be with us all. Amen.