From Our Leaders

Transformed by the Holy Spirit to be witnesses of Jesus Christ

A worship service at Central Legetaffo Meserete Kristos Church, Ethiopia. Photo: Tesfatsion Dalellew.
Release date: 
Monday, 12 February 2018

Like the chambers of a heart, the four MWC commissions serve the global community of Anabaptist-related churches, in the areas of deacons, faith and life, peace, mission. Commissions prepare materials for consideration by the General Council, give guidance and propose resources to member churches, and facilitate MWC-related networks or fellowships working together on matters of common interest and focus. In the following, one of the commissions shares a message from their ministry focus.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witness in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

In the mid-1960s, there was a movement throughout Ethiopia among the youth in high schools and campuses. Believers who were committed to prayer, based on the Scripture, started witnessing in schools, offices and on the road.

The major prayer request was the thirst for the filling by the Holy Spirit – the promise given by God the Father, as written in the Bible. These young people also had a strong passion for lost souls. Our faithful God answered these prayers and poured his Spirit on many of the believers.

Meserete Christos Church (MKC), one of the largest Mennonite churches, had a membership of a little more than 5,000 when it went underground during the time of persecution in the Marxist military government. And it is during this time of persecution that the church flourished and started experiencing dramatic growth.

Believers transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit were bold enough to witness Jesus Christ, share their faith and live a life of holiness that condemns sin and calls on sinners to repent.

Though the Marxist government put many restrictions on Christians, the gospel of Jesus Christ could not be stopped. Many believers, including MKC church leaders, were imprisoned. The MKC statistics, after 17 years of persecution, showed a tenfold growth.

As in the time of Israelites oppressed by Pharaoh, the more the Christians were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread. Local churches were planted by young believers who were committed and ignited by the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. Many home cells were formed for Bible study and prayer meetings. That growth has continued. Today, by the grace of God, MKC is growing with more than 20,000 believers added to the church by baptism every year.

The disciples of Jesus Christ, in the book of Acts, filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, “turned the world upside down with their teachings.” Being transformed by the Holy Spirit, they spread the gospel boldly and many were converted to Christianity. The Holy Spirit transformed these people and also made them witnesses.

The word witness in Greek is “martyrs”- which where we get the English word. Though it is used today as a designation of those who have suffered death in consequence of confessing Christ, “martyr” originally meant being a witness.

When we think of being transformed by the Holy Spirit, it is a life that is transformed for the cause of the gospel – to be an instrument for the work of God’s kingdom. A martyr lives for the master, not for himself or herself or even for a group interest.

We are transformed by the Holy Spirit to serve God by proclaiming the work of God, the good news of Jesus Christ for his glory.

“But you are a chosen people, royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belong to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9). 

—A Mennonite World Conference release by Tewodros Beyene (Ethiopia), a member of the Faith and Life Commission.