In Ethiopia, the Church of God has established Christian schools throughout the country: Sidama in the South; the Arsi Oromo area (961 children are enrolled and have to be accommodated by two shifts—all of whom are from Muslim families!); the city of Shashemene (a Muslim area in the southern Rift Valley); and Lake Awassa in southern Ethiopia.
The Harvest Church of God currently operates over 70 kindergarten (pre-school level) schools, plus several primary schools. All inclusive, they serve over 8,000 children, mostly in the southern regions, but also in other parts of Ethiopia where we have churches.
The church faces a challenge in maintaining the school because of insufficient finances. The government is trying to improve education and raises their teachers’ salaries, but the church cannot match those increases in pay, so often the school loses some of its best teachers to government schools. The school ministry basically survives on a monthly support of 2,000 Euros (about $2,361) from the Church of God in Germany—barely enough to keep the schools open, but not enough to maintain buildings, provide adequate teaching materials, or good quality teachers.
Despite a lack of proper funds, these kindergarten and primary schools are an outstanding, signal ministry with an incredible impact upon the lives of the children and their families, even upon the growth of the respective local congregations.
Hiruy Tsige, overseer, reports there are 180-plus congregations (some with more than 15,000 members; some with only 20 members), but overall membership is estimated at over 67,000. The educational contributions have had a large impact in growing congregations.
The influence continues!