[ Dr. Kebede responded to the following questions about the potential for using technology for reaching out with the Gospel in East Africa – Ethiopia, of course, but perhaps also in Sudan, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti, and Uganda. ]
1. How available to the general public are these technologies: radio, television, internet, cell phone – and any others that could be useful?
All of these technologies are available in Ethiopia and in in the neighboring countries. However, these days, the most available technologies in Ethiopia are cell phones. The internet accessed on cell phones brings radio and television broadcasts to the public.
2. How many people have cell phones? Do they use the Apple system or the Android system? Are they “smart phones”? If not yet, how quickly are smart phones arriving?
In Ethiopia, more than 40,000,000 (forty million) cellphones are used by the citizens and foreigners. Most local users of smart phones use the Android system while most visitors and some foreigners who live and work in Ethiopia use the Apple system. Both expensive and cheap smart phones of various brands such as Samsung, Nokia, Tecno, Smadle, Huawae and LG are available in almost all shops. It is up to what a person can afford to buy one of the smart phones.
3. Are good Christian materials, such as Luther’s Catechism, available in the languages of the region? Are they available in print? Are they available in digital form, so they can be distributed on phones or on the internet?
Good Christian materials such as Luther’s Catechism, are available in two major languages (Amharic and Oromifa), but not much in the languages of the many regions in Ethiopia. Efforts have been made and are still being made to meet this need. Yes, the existing printed and digital materials can be distributed on phones and on the internet.
4. What language(s) do you use in your church and school, and are you in a position to produce Christian materials in the languages of the region? Have you already done so?
Here in Ethiopia, we use the different languages of the regional states of Ethiopia. Here in Bishoftu which is in the Oromia regional state of Ethiopia, we use the English language for instruction in our theological seminary and in the government’s higher education institutions. In most primary and junior schools they use Amharic (a Semitic language like Hebrew, Aramaic and Arabic) and Ormifa (the language of the region).
The Lutheran Heritage Foundation (LHF) in Ethiopia has been translating confessional Lutheran writings such as The Book of Concord, Church and Ministry by C.F.W. Walther, Dying to Live, The Hammer of God, and Theology of Martin by Paul Althaus into many languages of the neighboring countries and into the above-mentioned two major languages of Ethiopia, and they plan to translate into more languages.
The Lutheran Church of Ethiopia and Maor Theological Seminary has already translated the 95 Theses for the 21st Century (which was adopted by the CELC in Grimma, Germany) into Amharic and Oromifa. The three-language 95 Theses document can be viewed here.
The book Reformation 500 – The Enduring Relevance of the Lutheran Reformation, printed by Northwestern Publishing House, is being translated into Amharic and Oromifa so that other willing citizens can consider translating these documents in to their mother tongues. Here is a possible area for collaboration with our CELC member churches.
5. Are there any barriers, from the governments or from adherents of other religions, that would make distributing Christian material difficult or dangerous?
There are no serious barriers from the governments or from adherents of other religions because these days there is religious freedom, so long as the material is not contrary to the constitution of the nation and does not interfere in the affairs of the government.
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