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“Call to Me and I will answer you”

   
 
   

April 16, 2010
- Dianne Legesse

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Leaving home to attend university exposed Frew Zinna to new attitudes and lifestyles that pulled him away from his family’s legacy of faith, but the words of Jeremiah 33:3 called him back to Christ and into ministry.

Most Ethiopians are Orthodox Christians or Muslims, but Frew grew up in a family that had been rooted in Evangelical Christian faith for three generations. His father taught in a Mennonite school started by the missionaries.

“Having the privilege of being involved with the Mennonite Missionary work contributed to the whole family’s life because it gave access to good health care and education as well as being taught spiritually. Holistically, the missionaries had an impact on our lives,” Frew says.
 
Frew graduated from high school at the Nazareth Bible Academy with “great distinction” and received a scholarship to study at a government-run university. It gave him a chance to make his dream of becoming a medical doctor a reality.

But living away from home to attend university exposed Frew to other temptations and two years later, he was forced to leave school because of poor grades, low attendance and his use of “chat,” a locally grown leaf that is chewed for an amphetamine-like stimulus. He returned home disgraced and broken, bringing shame to his family.

At the age of 20, with his mother on her knees beside him, Frew sought God’s guidance.

He found a position as an English translator for a nurse at a Baptist Mission clinic and lived and worked in the clinic community of foreign and national Christians. Witnessing their personal faith and practicing daily devotions with them stirred the embers of Frew’s abandoned beliefs.

Frew says he heard God speak to him on three different occasions through the words of Jeremiah 33:3.  “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” His faith re-emerged when he realized that God had a personal interest in him and in his future. 

When the mission clinic closed, Frew worked as a translator for a non-governmental organization (NGO) in Nazareth, less than 100 km southeast of the capital city Addis Ababa. He attended church regularly and “became a church man.” Frew could be found at the church almost daily – singing with the choir, learning guitar, teaching the Bible and preaching for small gatherings.  He was also one of the youngest men elected as an elder in the Nazareth area at that time.

One day Frew’s pastor, Kedir Delchume asked him, “What is your plan for your life?”

Frew replied that he had been praying for four specific priorities; helping his family, attending college, entering into marriage, and ministering for God. Pastor Delchume suggested that instead of setting his own priorities, Frew should seek God’s will. When Frew changed his approach, he says that God rearranged his priorities, moving marriage and ministering for God to the top of the list. 

Frew married and continued working with the NGO. The pastor encouraged him to mature further before giving up his full-time job for full-time ministry. 

During the next seven years many people encouraged Frew to study at Meserete Kristos College (MKC) including Demena Degu, a former graduate of the college and now the Director of Nazareth Extension Classes. Pastor Demena told Frew and his wife that education was necessary for Frew’s future ministry, but Frew did not think it was the right time.

A dream changed Frew’s plans.  In his dream, he saw an open envelope with a letter from MKC extending an invitation to study and a scholarship. Frew woke up and wept tears of joy, knowing that his dream to study would finally come true! 

Now a 3rd year degree student at MKC, Frew says he is “very, very, very happy.”  Sitting in the college library surrounded by books, he jokes that he feels like Jesus must have felt as a small boy visiting the temple. “Surely this is where I belong!”

Frew says of his hopes for his future ministry, “I want to be fully engaged in the area of teaching. Change will come in the life of the church through teaching the body of Christ. My heart craves to teach God’s word.”

When not attending classes, Frew lives in Nazareth with his wife of 15 years and two children.  He teaches at the MKC’s extension class in Nazareth. 

This article was adapted from the March 2010 issue of Meserete Kristos Newsletter. Dianne and Fanosie Legesse with their two children, Zachariah and Lydia, have served as Mennonite Church Canada Witness volunteers in Ethiopia since 2007. Fanosie teaches at Meserete Kristos College, while Dianne engages in a hospitality ministry. They will return to Canada in the summer of 2010. They are members at Bethel Mennonite Church in Elora, Ontario.