The Ethiopian Orthodox Church Abroad
The Ethiopian Orthodox Church abroad is a blessing to its faithful believers and is the fulfillment of the promise of the Almighty Father to gather together His people under their own vine and fig tree. One can be deeply inspired by the great act taking place among the scattered sons and daughters of Africa.
We are in a period of national and cultural revival and have reached the right age for all people of African decent to investigate the past and look forward to rediscovering their cultural heritage. It is the proper time for every National group to search for identity. The Jew needs to practice the rites of Judaism; The Western nations need to belong to the life of the great Western civilization; the African descendants, too, want to identify themselves with the spirit of Africa.
Africa has made her contributions to nations. This contribution is for the most part a spiritual one. The Ethiopian Orthodox church has stretched her hands unto the east and west and has established branch churches in Jerusalem, Sudan, West Germany, Djibouti, England, North and South America, and the Caribbean countries. Thus another contribution of spiritual power has been added to the already Christian nations of the world. The establishment of the branches of the Ethiopian Orthodox church abroad was made possible through the invitation of zealous followers of the Ancient Ethiopian faith and is the fulfillment of their dreams. It has been a long time since African people were separated from each other against their will. Ethiopia, together with the church, has kept the cultures and heritages of Africa to this day. She has put forward and maintained the greatest effort in keeping alive this cultural history of the black people. The Ethiopian church has always considered it her privilege and duty to reach out to non-Christian peoples at home and abroad.
However a Christian church, being the Kingdom of God, should not and cannot limit itself to one nation. It must go out and preach the Gospel throughout the world regardless of race, colour, or distance following the commandment of our Lord: “Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the ages.” The church of Ethiopia has been an ancient lighthouse for freedom before and after Christ. She will not force anyone to break contact with what he or she is attached to, and she is continuously praying for the entire world that God should hasten His purpose and put in the mind of all the desire for that which is good and expedient. The Churches missionary activities outside Ethiopia did not begin until 1952. However, monasteries were established in Jerusalem since the beginning of Christianity and unofficial missionary work began in Sudan in 1940.
The late start of the Church’s missionary work is a result of Ethiopia being preoccupied for centuries with self-defense and the maintenance of the Christian faith against internal and external foes, including the Moslems, who occupied the Red Sea coasts. Furthermore, the church was busy defending itself against proselytism and imperialism and had no time to propagate the Gospel outside of Ethiopia.