“Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, ‘Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.’ This is a desert place. And he rose and went. And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure.” Acts 8: 26-27
January 2011 – The Ethiopian official was an expert in managing earthly treasure, but he needed Philip’s guidance to discover the eternal treasure of the Gospel.
Like the eunuch, the people of Ethiopia today struggle to understand the Word of God. Though they have the Bible in their own language, few other Christian books are available that explain what Scripture means.
Now, through the faithful giving of LHF supporters, God has delivered another “great treasure for Ethiopian Lutheran pastors, teachers, evangelists and lay leaders” — the Book of Concordin the Amharic language.
Rev. Dr. Tilahun Mekonnen, an Ethiopian Lutheran who is now president of Concordia University—Selma, says that this treasure is vital for the stability and future growth of the church body.
“For about 7,000 congregations, there are only 2,500 ordained pastors,” he explained. “Some of these pastors cover 3-4 congregations to preach the Word and administer the Sacraments.”
With so few theologically educated leaders, Mekonnen believes there is a real danger of false teachings creeping into Ethiopian churches.
“If we do not step up and support the mission call of the Mekane Yesus Church in Ethiopia, this missionary church will be vulnerable to every wind of doctrine,” he said. “Having the Word of God adequately and properly explained in our Confessions will help believers to understand what they believe, confess and teach.”
Rev. Abraham Mengeshe, president of a Bible school in Ethiopia, agrees that it’s important for Lutheran pastors to understand why they are Lutheran.
“For me, this book has come at just the right time to help preserve our identity [as Lutherans],” he said. “Today it is so very, very vital for our ministry. We should know our background, should know the struggles. It isn’t even just for Lutherans, but for all Protestants interested in the Reformation.”
“We are so grateful for the support and prayers of LHF donors,” said Mekonnen. “This Book of Concord gives pride in our identity and removes all kinds of syncretism (the attempt to unite different, opposing religious principles or practices) and religious compromise by providing the very teaching of the Scriptures: Law and Gospel.”
For more than 425 years Lutherans have been guided in their beliefs, their teaching, and their preaching by this collection of assorted writings known as the Book of Concord.