A Mennonite World Conference release by Karla Braun
Renewal 2027 testimony: Anabaptists today
Renewal 2027 is a 10-year series of events to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the beginnings of the Anabaptist movement. This series highlights leaders in the movement, past and present.
“With the grace of God, I escaped many deaths throughout my journey in Christ,” says Tigist Alamirew. Born to an Orthodox family in Finote Selam, she serves as distance education director at Meserete Kristos College in Debre Zeit, Ethiopia.
“While I was a teenager, one of my friends witnessed to me about the love of Jesus. My heart was opened, and I received Christ as my personal Savior,” she says.
Displeased with her “new religion,” her parents chased Alamirew from their home. Her aunt led a community effort to scare the “demon” from her. They beat her with rubber hoses and burned her face, arms and legs in a fire.
“During that time, I saw a vision of Jesus Christ’s suffering, and did not feel the beating. When I saw Jesus rise up from his burial, I jumped up, rejoicing, and said, ‘Hallelujah, Jesus Christ is risen!’”
Meserete Kristos Church brought Alamirew to Addis Ababa, where they helped pay for her medical treatment. She got a job at the church office. Generous donors helped her go to the United States for plastic surgery to remove the scars on her face.
“I never thought of revenge for my perpetrators. I have fasted and prayed for them, hoping they would come to know the love of Jesus Christ,” she says.
As a new Christian, Alamirew dedicated herself to God’s service. Daily, she prayed and read Scripture. “God kept saying to me: ‘My child, I need you. It’s time to get ready for ministry.’ Looking at my busy schedule of ministry, I replied, ‘Lord, don’t you know that I am serving you?’”
Alamirew transferred to work for MK College as secretary, cashier and librarian. As she got to know the students and teachers, “The voice of the Lord came to me again: ‘Time to get ready,’ and something burned within me,” she says.
She took evening classes in theology. With financial aid from Jacob and Grace Leichty from Ohio, she was able to take a year of absence to finish her degree.
Theology was only the beginning. “Ministry should be holistic: Since we serve the whole being, we have to address the wholeness of humankind,” she says.
Alamirew earned a second degree in community development.
People warned Alamirew that studying theology would lead to “a spiritual cemetery,” but for her, “Every class session was devotional and inspirational.
“My studies do not make me dry; instead they give clarity to discern truth from untruth.”
Education has been a gift “not only for my church ministry but for my spiritual life and work,” says Alamirew. She is also vice chairperson and secretary of the elders’ board at her local church.
“I encourage those who want to serve Christ to study with expectation and commitment. Instructors should equip students to be passionately committed, Christ-like servants through their own exemplary life.”
The gospel for the family
Although a member of the Meserete Kristos family, Alamirew did not forget to pray for and witness to her family of origin.
“My goal is to reach unreached relatives and build a church,” she says. “Sixteen years ago, I started a fellowship with just three family members who received Christ as their Savior. Now this fellowship has more than 20 members.”
“I express my gratitude to God and those who invested in me. All glory to Almighty God.”
At the graduation ceremony in May, MK College dedicated the nearly completed new dormitory building for up to 258 female students. The modern facility includes lounges, kitchenettes and a large meeting room. “The completion of women’s dorm gives me great joy, because more women leaders and ministers will get a chance to study,” says Alamirew.