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YMI Launches the First Youth Ministry Masters Degree in Ethiopia
By Dr. Randy Smith, President – YMI

On Monday morning, at 8:30 AM, I was privileged to launch a historic event in the beautiful country of Ethiopia in East Africa…. the very first Evangelical Master’s Degree in Ethiopia’s history! 32 students signed in, sat down, prayed, and began listening to the first master’-degree lecture of the course “Principles of Youth Ministry.”  Course YM 501, was the first of a series of 12 courses to be offered through a partnership with the Evangelical Theological College (ETC) in Addis Ababa and Youth Ministry International over the next 3 years.  The launch was the result of 2 years of prayer, meetings, and negotiation with the leadership of ETC and the leadership of the school’s parent organization, the Kale Heywet Church evangelical denomination.  “Kale Heywet” means “Word of Life.” In 2003, the denomination celebrated its 75-year anniversary, and today has about 8000 churches and almost 7 million Christ-following attendees. Started by the Sudan Interior Mission in the 1920’s, today the church is completely independent and autonomous with its totally own national leadership and hundreds of theological training institutions, of which ETC is one. Founded in 1983, ETC became the first fully accredited college of the denomination in 1994, offering undergraduate and graduate degrees to train ministry leaders. Though ETC has offered an undergraduate concentration (18 credit hours) in youth ministry, the new YMI-led MA is the first full youth ministry degree program in the country with 45 credit hours of youth ministry coursework.  There are about 20 students taking the full MA program, along with several other MA students taking some of the courses as electives.  The graduates of this new MA program will become professorial candidates to begin teaching a full Bachelor degree youth major in a couple years, along with a continuation of the MA program and the start of a Doctorate in Youth Ministry.

But what is the “Holocaust to Hope” title mean? Ethiopia is a unique African nation. It is the only African country that was not colonized by a western colonial power. Italy invaded Ethiopia in the 1930’s but was never able to colonize the country and was repelled in a 5-year long war. An emperor ruled the country until 1974, when the darkest 17-year history in Ethiopia began with a military coup, which led to a Marxist-Leninist communist regime that brought about a literal holocaust. Between 1974 and 1991, it is estimated that more between 1 and 5 million people (mostly youth) were imprisoned, tortured and executed by this brutal Godless regime!  I personally toured the now-famous “Red Terror Martyr’s Memorial Museum” in Addis. I saw the remnants of the brutality and heard the stories as told by the museum’s volunteer guide whom himself was arrested, and tortured as a high school student, and imprisoned for 8 years.  He (pictured with me below) was brutally tortured and witnessed the brutal random assignation of his family and many friends.  It was indeed a “hopeless” time in the history of Ethiopia. Evangelical missionaries were driven out of the country while thousands of Christians were killed and brutalized. It reminded me of the killing fields and the holocaust and genocide of Cambodia’s communist Khmer Rouge/ Pol Pot regime of the mid-1970’s, the evidence of which I saw on one of my ministry training trips in 2005… horrible!

BUT NOW, there is a new hope in the air, and the dream of having a high-level, fully accredited youth ministry theological education is now available to reach into the more than 100 million population (70% of which are under the age of 29) through a new generation of highly trained youth leaders! YMI is honored to be apart of what we believe can be an evangelical youth movement to bring the youth of Ethiopia to Christ, and then see them disciple and leading a new generation with the true Gospel of HOPE. May it be so! See the pictures below of this historic event. Please pray for this new venture!

Randy with a holocaust survivor, and now volunteer tour guide, at the Red Skulls Holocaust Museum in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

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