Pastor Ergete Mesfin of Shasheme, Ethiopia firmly believed the Bible taught that women should sit quietly in church, never asking questions or expressing their opinions. And women were certainly never allowed to participate in any preaching or teaching ministries in the church.
His beliefs carried over to his marriage. Pastor Ergete said, “I had no proper attention for my wife and that negatively affected my relationship with her. I used to think that husband has authority over the wife.”
His wife, Woinshet Lemma, reflected on their marriage: “I usually felt inferiority complex and consider myself inefficient. I thought that the right to manage all our properties was given only to my husband. I also had dissatisfaction in my marriage. Wives are considered as one of the properties of the husband.”
World Vision’s Channels of Hope-Gender training opened their eyes to the Bible’s true teachings on gender roles.
“I developed the biblical understanding of gender equality and realized the potential God has given to women,” said Pastor Ergete. “As a pastor, I know that God gives diverse gifts to women as he did to men. I came to understand the significant role women can play in the discipleship ministry of the church.”
The training changed his way of thinking about women’s roles, not only in the church, but also in his own marriage. “I really start respecting my wife, avoiding the previous attitude and practice,” he said.
Woinshet affirms the positive changes that Channels of Hope-Gender has brought to their marriage. “Now we started to understand each other, love each other, and lead peaceful marriage in our home.”
Pastor Ergete remains firm in his beliefs about Scripture, but his deeper understanding of the Bible’s teachings about gender equality, his beliefs are leading him to create ministry opportunities for women in his church. He and his wife’s partnership in marriage has become a role model for other couples in their community.