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God transfers ‘miserable guy’ from garbage dump to kingdom

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (BP)–As a child, Elias Ersedo woke up in the mornings, not to the sound of an alarm clock, but to the howl of hyenas. And instead of curing his morning hunger pains with a bowl of cereal and a glass of orange juice, Elias would hope somebody threw away enough table scrapings that he could piece together a meal.
For many years, the garbage dump in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, was Elias’ home away from home. His parents couldn’t afford all eight of their children, so 8-year-old Elias tried to become as self-sufficient as he could. Both of his parents had leprosy — a disease that infects 400 million people worldwide, 90 percent of them in underdeveloped countries such as Ethiopia.
Ersedo was among the poorest of the poor in a country where the average wage is estimated to be $150 a year. Ersedo lived way below that total. “I ate what people threw away — leftovers from the hotel, airlines or hospitals mainly,” he said.
But when everything else in his life seemed hopeless, Ersedo met Jesus.
Christ’s calling on his life began several years ago when he dreamed Satan was choking him. In his dream, he remembered something he had seen in a church service when he was a boy, and he told Satan to leave in Jesus’ name.
Ersedo remembers Satan asking him, “Where do you know this name?” Finally Ersedo admitted he didn’t know this name and Satan relented.
But Ersedo’s life got worse instead of getting better.
“When I didn’t have any money, I would beat people and take it from them,” he said.
Last spring Ersedo met Ngosh Gemeda, an Ethiopian believer. Gemeda, who works with Southern Baptist personnel in Ethiopia, built a relationship with Ersedo and shared the gospel with him.
“There was something disturbing me from the inside but I wondered why God would want me. I’m such a miserable guy,” Ersedo said.
That’s when Ersedo accepted God’s free gift of salvation.
“God has given me peace; things don’t bother me like they did before,” he said.
Ersedo then moved back in with his parents and helps support them. “I’m a child of God and a child of my parents too,” he said. “I felt like I should help them.”
By reaching Ethiopians like Ersedo in Addis Ababa, Southern Baptists and other Great Commission Christians take the gospel into northern Ethiopia and surrounding countries — places where the gospel is not often proclaimed. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, is one of 100 cities that the AD 2000 organization has designated as a “Gateway City.” Every ethnic people group in Ethiopia is represented in Addis Ababa, and the city is a strategic link to neighboring Muslim countries such as Sudan.
Recognizing God’s desire for the good news of salvation to be spread across the region, Southern Baptist representatives opened the Leadership Training Center in Ethiopia. There they train national Christians to preach in Addis Ababa, in a hope that by bringing revival there the gospel’s effects might reach far beyond the city’s boundaries.

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  • Tobin Perry