This study presents the religious dynamics of the Wolaitta Kale Heywet Church in southern Ethiopia from 1937 to 1975. On the basis of detailed research from within southern Ethiopia, E. Paul Balisky demonstrates that the indigenous extension of the Wolaitta Christian movement into southern Ethiopia, through the instrumentality of her evangelists, helped Wolaitta regain her own religious center and subsequent identity after centuries of various forms of colonialism and imperialism.
Wolaitta Evangelists broadens one's understanding of how an imported model of Christianity provided religious answers to the ideals of a particular Ethiopian society and continues to motivate her members to evangelize. The evangelists who went to people of similar culture and worldview were successful in effecting social change. To ethnic groups who had moved beyond their former primal religions, and to those of disparate culture, the evangelists were those who scattered the seed and impacted the religious, social, economic, and political life of southern Ethiopia. Wolaitta Evangelists tells the story of how missionary activity played a role in Wolaitta once again becoming a people.
Endorsements & Reviews-
"A work of outstanding importance. In the Christian history of Africa, most Africans have always heard the Christian gospel from other Africans, but the nature of the surviving sources has inevitably led to concentration on the Western missionaries' part of the story. This study has used hitherto untapped oral sources, as well as archival ones, to uncover the crucial work of indigenous evangelists in the movement towards Christianity in southern Ethiopia in the mid-twentieth century. It also describes the indigenous social and religious revolution that prepared the way for Christianity. Dr. Balisky's work gives depth and perspective to the existing published accounts of this period and place and gives hints for what might be done elsewhere." --Andrew F. Walls University of Edinburgh and Liverpool Hope University
"The emergence and rapid growth of 'new churches' in the mid and late twentieth century has added a new chapter to the long and illustrious history of the church in Ethiopia. Paul Balisky has produced a well-researched history of one of the significant catalysts for this growth: the evangelists of the Wolaitta people-group. Balisky's comprehensive research into both local and expatriate sources makes accessible to global readers an often overlooked story of how indigenous evangelists played the primary role in the spread of the gospel. He skillfully blends consideration of the historical and sociological factors behind this amazing church growth with a sensitive appreciation for spiritual dynamics. Balisky's history preserves this rich heritage for the worldwide church while touching on many contemporary missiological issues. I warmly commend Wolaitta Evangelists to all who wish to better understand today's global church and to all who want be amazed by the power of God!" --Steve Strauss Director, SIM USA
E. Paul Balisky
E. Paul Balisky is Professor of Ethiopian Church History at the Ethiopian Graduate School of Theology in Addis Ababa.