Intersection: Stories Impacting women in Ethiopia

By Samuel Chiang

Genet Elias is a Bible storyteller in the Esther Project Ethiopia. Following a proven method, she learns stories, practices telling them and encourages other women to do the same. The confidence she gained from Bible storytelling helped Genet share God’s Word with a neighbor named Shanochi Sego.

Their story begins with a shared Scripture.

A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding, and she could find no cure. Coming up behind Jesus, she touched the fringe of his robe. Immediately, the bleeding stopped.

“Who touched me?” Jesus asked.

Everyone denied it, and Peter said, “Master, this whole crowd is pressing up against you.”

But Jesus said, “Someone deliberately touched me, for I felt healing power go out from me.” When the woman realized that she could not stay hidden, she began to tremble and fell to her knees in front of him. The whole crowd heard her explain why she had touched him and that she had been immediately healed. “Daughter,” he said to her, “your faith has made you well. Go in peace.” – Luke 8:43-48 (NLT)

Genet’s Story

After coming to the Esther Project, I learned how to read the Bible and identify the main idea of a passage. I have learned many Bible stories in my heart. So now, I have the boldness to tell them to others. Because of the stories I have learned, I also have confidence to pray for the sick by myself and also with others.

As soon as I went back home from the first training, I asked church leaders of my area to give me faithful women who can go and tell what I tell them, one from each local church. There are 14 local churches in my area; I received 12 trainees. Because of the time constraint, I chose five stories and told them in the same way I learned at the Esther Project workshop. And I encouraged them to go and tell it to others.

I also tell stories to my children. I have nine children. My oldest one is 28. Except him, the others live with me. I tell them stories whenever they are around me. I am happy to hear them tell the stories to their friends. My youngest especially enjoys telling stories to his friends.

After I learned Bible stories, I learned that I should tell God’s Word to other people. Up until this training, my eyes and heart were not open to people’s need.

Shanochi lives close to my local church. Her left leg swells, fluid comes out of her wound and she is always in pain. She has tried different traditional medicines, but they did not work.

Though I have always been an active member of my church, I had never shared the Gospel or invited Shanochi to church. But one Friday, God helped me think of her. So I went to her house and told her the story of the woman who was bleeding for 12 years. I chose this story because I knew that Shanochi had been sick for a long time. Through the story, I told her that Jesus is a healer, and I invited her to our church.

Shanochi’s Story

My husband used to serve in the military. A few years back, he came back with only one hand. Because of his injury, he now only stays at home. The burden of feeding the whole family is on me.

I used to prepare arekai (a local alcoholic drink) for a living. It is a very difficult thing to do. I used to spend most of my time indoors near a fire, boiling the arekai, and the heat worsened my wound.

People who are involved in the arekai business are very busy. We don’t have time for social life because it takes hard work to produce a small amount of arekai.

I know some go to the Orthodox Church and others to Protestant churches — there are different religious gatherings — but no one had told me about Jesus or invited me to join them. When Genet came to my home to tell me what Jesus did for the lady who was bleeding for 12 years, I was surprised and happy to learn that God cares for those who suffer and are lonely.

I told the story to my husband and told him that I want to go to church with my children. I have four children. The oldest one is 18. They all live with me. My husband is happy with my decision. He used to go to church before we were married. He had another wife. He quit going to church and took me as a second wife. He was afraid that if he repented and went back to church, then he would be required to leave me and go back to his first wife.

I have always thought that Protestants do not have a place for me, as a second wife, and that they do not give recognition to our vow. But that is not true. They have accepted me.

Now I do not prepare arekai for a living. I know it is wrong to do that. I prepare cheese and butter at home to sell.

And my leg is getting better because I do not spend much time near the fire. It has not totally recovered, so people at church pray for me.


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