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Grace, Freely
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Tuesday, May 31, 2016
Wendy Wippel

Grace, freely. The notion of God’s grace supplying salvation through faith is accused by some of being unfair. What about the primitive tribes in Africa and South America? What about the people who haven’t heard? Well… what about the promises of God?  Like Jeremiah 29:13, for example; "you will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart".

The Gedeo people of the south-eastern hill country of  Ethiopia, several million strong, live today in the eastern part of the rift valley, growing coffee beans and living much like their people have for generations. One thing generations ago was different, however.

The Gedeo, several generations ago lived in fear of the wrath of the God they sacrificed to, an evil God who had to be continually appeased. His name was Shei’tan. Elders of the tribe, however, reminded the people of a promise given long ago by another God named Magano, a God that was the creator of all that was. And they reminded the Gedeo people of a legend passed down from ages far in the dim past,that promised that someday, Magano would send more knowledge of himself to the Gedeo from foreigners they did not know.

On member of the Gedeo tribe, a member of the royal family, tired of waiting.  His name was Warassa Wange . Warassa Wange  began to pray that Magano would reveal himself to the Gedeo people. And lo and behold, not too long after, this man, Warassa Wange  had a strange vision.

In his vision, two men with very white skin came into the village (named Dilla) and built  themselves a shat seemed to be to Warassa Wange a flimsy shelter of cloth under a large sycamore tree that stood in the village. They then built other shelters with shiny metal roofs. Finally, Warasse Wange saw himself carry the center pole of his own house out to the sycamore tree and plant it next to the house of the white-skinned man (a clear metaphor in Gedeo culture for a time coming at which he would with identify the white-skinned strangers).

Eight years went by, eight years in which the dangers of setting up missionary activities among the Gedeo became less and less feasible. Canadian missionaries Albert Brant and Glen Cain had felt a call to work with the Gedeo, but Ethiopians friendly to the idea warned them that the Gedeo were in a politically volatile area and starting a mission there was probably not a good idea. Crain and Brant persisted. Their advisors finally threw them a bone, “just go to the edge of Gedeo territory. You’ll still be a long way from the tribal centers, and no one can possibly think you could influence the whole tribe from there.” Crain and Brant were directed to the perfect place to start, a the village known as Dilla.     

Brandt and Cain both your basic pale-face. reached the village of Dilla in the fall of 1946 and pointed the nose of their car up a small hill towards a sycamore tree.  They pitched their tent under the same tree.  Warassa Wange, in the village, heard a strange noise, and came to see.  The rest is history.  The God who created all things, Magano, kept his promise to reveal himself to the Gideo, and He answered Warassa Wange’s  prayer. Warassa Wange, in fact, was the first Gedeo to hear and respond to the good news of the gospel, figuratively bringing the center pole of his house,to the center pole of theirs, just as the vision predicted.  The center pole of Brandt and Crain being the death and resurrection of the son of God, a center pole that wiped away their sins.

The Gedeo people were once asked why, if they knew there was a greater God than Shei’tan, didn't they continue to sacrifice to the evil entity. Their answer? We didn’t sacrifice to Sheit’an because we loved him, but because we did not enjoy close enough ties with Magano to allow us to be done with him. 

That changed.twenty -five years later there were 200 Gedeo churches, each with more than 200 new children of the King. And Today, 85% of the Gedeo are Christian.

All because of Warasse Wange and his prayer.  II Samuel 14.14 tells us that “For we will surely die and are like water spilled on the ground which cannot be gathered up again. Yet God does not take away life, but plans [a]ways so that the banished one will not be cast out from him.”

God devises ways to bring the lost back into the fold. They are done with Sheit’an now, and he can’t do anything about it.

About Wendy Wippel

Last article: Gadding About Town

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