karen salmon pic

How long in Ethiopia?

I was accepted as a BCMS Crosslinks mission partner in November 1991 while studying at Allnations, spending a two month placement in Ethiopia from Allnations in 1992. I went to Ethiopia long term in 1993, and returned to Ireland on the 4th of June this year, so have had the privilege of serving 23 years in Ethiopia.


Where did you serve and in what capacities?

I began my mission experience by studying Amharic in Addis Ababa for three months. I then went to Gondar in the north west where I taught nursing, and led Bible studies and prayer groups for students and staff, and an outreach to orphans and abandoned children. God used the student outreach, established by Colin and Hazel Maunsell, and later facilitated by me, to bring hundreds of young people into a relationship with Himself.

The war with Eritrea made living in Gondar a challenge! God facilitated a move to Jimma in the south where I again taught nursing. Together with an Ethiopian evangelist, Tsehay, God opened doors for us to visit individuals living with HIV/AIDS and invite them to study the Bible in my home. God wonderfully made this fruitful in bringing Muslims and nominal Orthodox to faith in Christ.

After six years in Jimma I was invited to lead an HIV prevention programme at Mekelle Youth Centre in the north east. With the help of many volunteers I ran preventative education, and peer education programmes, anti AIDS clubs, and training of trainers courses. Our anti AIDS club members ran community coffee programmes for women, including bar girls, and fun days for blind children, where we had opportunities to share from Scripture. As well as preventative work at the youth centre, Rufael and I ran courses in local and rural schools, at Operation Rescue orphan project, in two prisons, and the Orthodox Theological College. God opened doors for weekly Bible studies with youth centre children and youth, ORE orphans, the blind, prisoners living with HIV, and women who had recovered from fistula surgery and were being trained as safe motherhood ambassadors. He also enabled me to teach in the local Orthodox Theological College – an awesome opportunity for an evangelical woman. God also opened the door for a School of Biblical Training for 57 pastors and evangelists only 3 of whom had any biblical training. That SBT led to a review of Crosslinks’ Ethiopia strategy, and a joint decision that I should seek a placement in Gambella in the south west. It was painful to leave Mekelle after 12 fruitful years.

I’ve served in Gambella for one year with the huge privilege of helping Bishop Grant LeMarquand open the first theological college in what is the poorest region of Ethiopia. Under the leadership of the Dean Rev. Dr. Johann Vanderbijl, God enabled me to teach Introduction to the Bible and Biblical Interpretation, Old Testament Introduction and Introduction to the New Testament, and to lead the College’s Servant Leadership programme. Chris and Suzy Wilson will now cover these courses and this leadership programme in Gambella. They move to Ethiopia in August.


What has the Lord taught you?

I have learned that following Jesus is never boring; being a Christian really does mean life in all its fullness. Another key lesson is that God is completely trustworthy and dependable.


What are your hopes for SBTs in Ethiopia? 

Any excess in my personal Crosslink’s fund will go to support SBTs. I hope there will be yearly or at least alternative year SBTs. I dream of these expanding to include training trainers who could in turn train Adwa and Adigrat Christian leaders and others further north!


What next?

I have known for a while that although God’s work in Ethiopia is not finished my part in it is. So I have prayed and wrestled with God concerning his plans for me.  I was not sure what the next step would be. Amazingly, God has been drawing me towards ordained ministry, and although initially reluctant, I am now confident this is the right thing to do. In the autumn I will begin training in the Church of Ireland Theological Institute in Dublin. I remain hugely grateful for your support over so many years.

In Christ’s love,