Following their Faith, VanderWals Find Themselves in Ethiopia
God had other plans for their lives. After a few short mission trips to Costa Rica where a missionary pastor introduced Jim to the importance of publication ministries the Lord placed a calling on Jim's heart to replace a retiring missionary who was doing a large scale publishing ministry in Ethiopia. They quit their jobs, sold their house, kissed and cried over leaving their grown children and grandchildren and moved with their two youngest sons to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Now entering their fifth year with SIM they have experienced incredible affirmation for their decision to be obedient to the Lord's calling and continue to feel blessed to have their skills in health care and printing be used to build the Kingdom of God.
The radio ministry broadcasts in three languages throughout the horn of Africa, including Somalia. Radio programs are an exclusive way to reach the 85% of Ethiopians who live in rural and remote village settings and only have access to short wave radio. With some of recent violence in Ethiopia and Somalia, the short wave broadcasts are a great way to bring the gospel to folks who can listen to it with headphones or in the privacy of their home. Since it is very dangerous to convert or even to be a Christian in these areas, this ability to hear the gospel without retribution is a great service to these people who must hide their faith. And right in Ethiopia, a church worker was killed and his pregnant wife seriously injured in a machete attack by a gang of Muslims.
The literature ministry is currently providing scholarships to Ethiopian Christian authors in an effort to encourage culturally relevant Christian literature. Prior to moving to Ethiopia Mary was teaching in the Nursing Department at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI and working on her PhD. In Ethiopia she has continued work towards her PhD with a nutrition support project for HIV+ children. She also has served as the Health Coordinator for SIM Ethiopia, overseeing health care for 150 missionaries and their families and 400 Ethiopian employees and their families. She also has a ministry to orphan boys in partnership with a local church.
While the intensity of the Ebola outbreak in Africa may change their plans, they are scheduled to travel back to Ethiopia in October. Upon their return, Jim will continue in his "temporary role" as Admin Director and they would ask you to join them in praying as they consider if this is a role the Lord would have them continue. This would mean he would be part time with the Media (Radio) and Literature ministry management team which could be a great opportunity for the managers to grow in their leadership autonomy. They thank God for the good reports they have received on the work in Ethiopia via email and for the Ethiopian and missionary staff who continue the work in their absence!
On their return Mary will work on the next steps of her PhD work as well as coordinate medical ministries, serve on the Thrive committee (which seeks to support missionaries in Ethiopia) and will continue her ministry with the Kolfe boys. As they start their fifth year in Ethiopia as "empty nesters," they hope to more intentionally mentor and encourage new missionaries.
Jim and Mary are currently 20% below their required support level and are looking for people who value their ministry and would like to come alongside them and pray for them and commit to even $25 or $50 or $75 or $100 or more monthly. These funds will go directly toward getting the written and spoken gospel into much needed areas in Africa and provide much needed medical help in Ethiopia. To donate to their ministry, click here.