ROGERS, Ark. (BP) -- Arkansas corporate executive Haileyesus Abate cries, he says, for the people of his native Ethiopia, a majority Christian nation where numerous primitive tribes still worship nature as deities and have never heard the Gospel. Typical is the nomadic, animistic Mursi Tribe in southwestern Ethiopia, whose men don't wear clothing. Instead, they use clay and natural pigments to paint intricate, colorful patterns on their bodies to attract a bride, who likely will have had a hole punched just below her lip before puberty; the hole is stretched by the insertion of progressively larger, round, flat, decorated wooden plates. The larger her plate, the larger dowry the groom's family pays in negotiating a union, according to custom.
SBC President Ronnie Floyd, at right, and Cross Church global missions minister Doug Sarver, left, prayed for Abadulla Gemeda, Ethiopian speaker of the House, during a recent trip to the country.
Mursi and other tribes are vulnerable to Muslims working to build mosques in their villages and who convert them to Islam, Haileyesus noted, sharing with Baptist Press a vision and urgency to see 50,000 evangelistic Christian churches planted among the tribes.
"I actually weep about that," he told BP. "We are not from the same tribe, but just God put a burden on me to make a difference for them."
That is why he arranged for his pastor, Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) President Ronnie Floyd, to visit Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and meet with top political and Christian leaders.
"I was able to lift up the Word of God," Floyd said. "The Lord gave us an open door. Our ultimate purpose was to get the Gospel there."
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