Prison Break: Christianity Escapes

Photo by Guy Gerrard

When Pastor Adane Ashamo was taught discipleship material that explained basic, crucial truths of Christianity, he decided he wanted to take it to the prison nearby.

He taught two prisoners the material, each of whom taught three men.

However, Pastor Adane realized that 90 to 95 percent of the prisoners were illiterate and couldn't learn about Jesus in that form. So he trained eight prisoners in how to communicate the curriculum orally. He drew diagrams in the dirt (with no paper or Bibles), and created hand gestures.

The discipleship material Pastor Adane used was brought to Ethiopia in 2000 by Byron and Lin Smith, American Campus Crusade for Christ staff members.

Byron and Lin flew there to train four pastors and church leaders to reproduce themselves spiritually. They taught the curriculum only to individuals who were committed enough to have already lined up others to train in these same basic, crucial Christian truths.

Because of this stipulation, the materials and the followers of Jesus exponentially multiplied. For each set of materials the Smiths brought to Ethiopia, they estimate 20 to 100 handwritten copies have been made.

"The thing that amazes me about Adane is he's so creative," says Lin, who met him on a return trip to Ethiopia. "He taught them to remember these truths with hand signs."

In the jail that Pastor Adane visits, 200 prisoners have learned and are teaching the material. Some are being transferred to another prison soon, and anticipate the opportunities with new men.

"This is a very important process," says Pastor Adane. "God opened a miraculous door in our country as well as throughout the world."