Why Does Ethiopia Need Expository Preaching? An Interview with a Trainer

todd-kellyI (Todd Kelly) recently joined two colleagues in Ethiopia, Doug Dunton and Sean Martin, to work with the Mentor-Trainers. These men are key leaders of this movement of the Word taking place in Ethiopia and graduates of the Training National Trainers program. (Learn about the movement of God’s Word in Brazil and beyond.)

I had the privilege to speak at length with one mentor trainer named Solomon. Below is a short excerpt with some wording edited for readability.


Todd Kelly of Leadership Resources: Solomon, you said that the people you are training are really eager to receive the training. Why is that?

Training Pastors in Ethiopia

Solomon during our training

Solomon: Because our situation is not good. In our pulpits the preacher and teacher are preaching their own words not God’s Word. So when we say this at our training, they say, “We are in danger, we are in hardship, so we have to come back to the original…to the Word of God.” This is what they say. 

T: That’s very interesting. In some places this could be…kind of a threat… because you are telling somebody that they are not doing it right. But you are not getting that reaction.

S: No, no…because we are facing the challenge in our pulpits. It’s obvious. No one can say that there is not this problem in our pulpits. They can’t say that.

T: So they all recognize it?

S: Yes, they all recognize that this is the problem.

T: Apparently they want help…there’s a hunger for the training?

S: Yes, they have a big hunger…a big hunger to get this training. And when we trained them in the book of Jonah they asked us, “What can we do next?”

T: Yes, you were just telling me how they were frustrated…

S: Yes, especially when they finished the first training. They wanted us to come after two or three months. But we said you have to go back and give this training to a minimum of 2 or 3 people then you come with a report. This is our conviction. This they must do.

T: Solomon, what do you think? They recognize that there is a need. Do they also feel a sense of being empowered? Is their confidence growing as you train them?

S: Yes, especially after we finish the training. We discuss with the leaders and the trainees and they are becoming encouraged and try to work the principles to read the Bible better.

T: Can you think of one or two pastors with a personal story that shows transformation?

S: Yes, especially in Addis and in my area. Before they took this training they were confused to preach the Word of God but now they are able at anytime because they are working hard to understand the Word of God. They work hard.

T: Are you seeing changes in the churches and in the people themselves?

S: Yes, even in my church the evangelists have changed.

T: In what way?

S: When they preach the Word their preaching system is different. Most of the times they preach topical preaching. But now they preach expositional preaching.

T: What do you think is the benefit of that?

S: It’s of benefit for the person who preaches the Word because he understands the Word, he knows the author’s intent and he can get the heart of God to transfer for the hearers so the audience can get the Word of God. It has two kinds of privilege, one for the preacher and the other for the hearer. It is a privilege to know the Word of God!

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T: So, you’ve been involved in this training about 6 years. The first segment of the training ended after 4 years, and now you are one of the Mentor Trainers in the next level of training. What is it that keeps you involved? What benefit are you personally receiving?

S: I remember when we started this training. We didn’t understand what we were doing. After 4 years, we began to understand the main goal of the training. I get from this training how can I study the Word, how can I dig in the Word. It’s opened my eyes to read the Word of God, to be faithful to it and to be a faithful servant of God. I was taught it’s not enough for my heart only, it has to be passed on to the others. I decide that I would do it and God gave me a chance to become a Mentor Trainer. I am very happy because we’re working in the Word of God. This is a very, very good chance for me to challenge other ministers.

T: How do you think about this Mentor Trainer process? How is it different than the first level of training?

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Solomon and some of the other Mentor Trainers

S: In the first level of training we practiced the principles in each book. For example, in the first gathering we used a few principles to understand the book of Jonah. Then in the second gathering some others to understand the book of 2 Timothy. In this next level of training we take all 8 principles at once. They are integrated. This is very helpful to see it this way and when we train we can better help others.

T: How many pastors are you involved in training?

S: We have 4 groups. Each with about 15 pastors…60 total.

T: If we were sitting down with someone thinking about supporting the work in Ethiopia and they asked, “Solomon why do you think it is so important?” What would you say?

S: Do you see the pulpits? Go back and evaluate your pulpits your church, your preachers. And that immediately solves the problem. That is why they see the need immediately.

T: So why is it so important that the pulpits be changed?

S: Our pulpits should be preaching the Word of God, not the history of the preacher or his ideas, but preaching the Word of God.

T: And when they don’t preach the Word of God what are the consequences?

S: You see I served for the last 17 years in the church as a pastor. The life of the people doesn’t grow up. They come to the church every week, but they don’t grow up in the Christian life. This is the problem of the teaching and preaching of the ministers.

T: So they remain as infants?

S: Yes. So we have to change that for today’s church. People must grow spiritually.

T: Are you also seeing an increase in evangelism and church planting as a result of people being fed the Word?

S: Yes. If they change their attitude about the Word of God they can go out and preach it, even for nonbelievers. I saw that for the last 4 years in my church. The people go out and give witness. They are bringing (new) people to church.

T: That is beautiful. In Ethiopia there is a long Christian tradition, but there are also predominantly Muslim areas. Are you seeing any inroads into these areas?

S: Yes, especially in my place. Most people are Muslim because of that they call it Jeddah, named after one of the cities of Saudi Arabia. So we are working there and the ministers are bold enough and strong to share the Gospel. So it’s helpful.

T: The training helps pastors grow stronger and more confident?

S: Yeah, more confident in the Word of God, helping them to deal with other religions and many cults. This is good.

T: Thank you Solomon. This has been so encouraging. I will share this with others and we will pray for you and the team in Ethiopia.


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