Ochalla is from a part of Ethiopia where there are frequent tribal clashes and outbreaks of ethnic violence. Some of his relatives were killed in the conflict. However, since turning to Christ seven years ago, Ochalla’s greatest concern is that the rival tribe has no-one to tell them about Jesus. Ochalla is keen to work as a missionary to these people, putting his safety on the line to do so. He is currently studying at St Frumentius Anglican Theological College.
Before you went to college, you were working at a mission centre in Dimma. What’s been happening there while you’ve been away?
One of our neighbouring tribes, the Suri, have been raiding our cattle, attacking people on the road. But this year some of our church elders went to them and shared the Bible. After this there was a big meeting and some from both tribes prayed together. This is so exciting. They wanted to stay together and carry on praying, so the elders and the lay pastor went to their village and now they are building a church together. Many are becoming Christians. I am a pastor to some of them now and I can help them study the Bible too. But many in my own community challenge me when they hear me on the phone to my friends from other tribes. It is hard to maintain these friendships. There are still many difficulties.
If you return to Dimma, do you think you will be working closely with these people?
They are our neighbours but we are still enemies. They have killed some of our tribe, even some of my relatives. But they have no missionary to reach them so when I finish my studies I want to go and talk to them more, to tell them about Christ. God willing, I have to go to them.
What other challenges do you face?’
Studying here is a great opportunity for me but living in Gambela is not easy. Gambela is a town and very different from my rural home. It can be dangerous and it’s expensive too. My wife and son are here with me and it’s hard for them. While I’m studying my wife looks after my son alone, goes to the market and collects the water. It can be difficult to find enough food to eat. We all miss my parents. I worry that I’m not there to support them because it’s hard for them, too. I often think about my mum, my younger sister and my brother. They are a long way away. Sometimes I do not sleep well.
How can we be praying for your church and for the Dimma mission centre?
Please pray that we can reach out to the people who do not know God. There are still many ethnic and historic divisions to overcome and we all need God’s strength to carry on. Pray for all four Anglican churches in the Dimma region: that God would bless their efforts to evangelise the ethnic groups in the surrounding region, enable them to raise up young leaders and work for peace between different groups and denominations.
Ochalla is in need of sponsors to cover the cost of his studies for the next year. Can you help?
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