Thornleigh Seventh-day Adventist Church (Sydney, Australia)

Home > Online Magazine > Online Magazine: Edition 55 - Autumn (March-May) 2014 > An Incident in Hosanna (by Norman Tew)

An Incident in Hosanna

by Norman Tew

Isaiah 65:24 -- And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer;

Note: Norman Tew and his family lived and worked in Ethiopia for some 15 - 16 years. 

Life in Ethiopia was different.   We lived at three different periods totalling ten years on a school compound, but were also involved in helping the Seventh-day Adventist church members over a big area which included at least four different language groups.

The school was situated on a main road about 10 km south of a small town - Negele - (with a police station and a very few shops) and about 20 Km north of a much larger town - Shashemene.  At one time a detainee of the police in Negele decided to commit suicide by cutting his throat.  Since he did not know much about anatomy all he managed to do was damage his wind pipe. Fortunately for him, he did not hit the major blood vessels in his neck.  My wife, a nurse, was asked by the police to come up and render medical services to him. 

Technically we were in the police area of the larger town, so we had dealings with the police there also.

On one particular occasion three overseas workers from the school took a trip in the school Mercedes 4.5 ton truck to visit church members in an area where we had only recently had church members, the township known as Hosanna.  In fact we had not sent any workers into the area but workers for another mission had been given lectures warning against the Seventh-day Adventist beliefs but had liked what they heard.  They came and asked for Bible studies and went home and told what they had learned. So we were invited to go and visit.

After travelling a long distance over back roads (there was one road from the north into Hosanna but most people went in and out by air - this was typical of many places in Ethiopia in the 1960s) we drove into town.  We were immediately stopped by the police at their station (once they realised we were not a police vehicle for our vehicle was the same type as theirs) and our papers were checked.  At that time foreigners had to carry three documents an identity booklet, a movement pass (which allowed travel outside of Addis Ababa) and a driver's licence booklet.  Since we did not often travel away from the school we did not often need these documents and it was discovered that two of the documents (among the three of us) were technically out of date, but the police did not bother but advised us to visit the government offices for the province before going elsewhere.

When we arrived at the office of the governor he did not appear too favourable to our visit.  However he had in his office with him two police officers, who had previously served one in each of the towns north and south of the school, and who knew us by name and greeted us.  Our documents were again produced and recorded.  The clerk was very unhappy recording documents that were not valid due to their being expired but he was quickly told to write just what the details of the documents were.

The governor was still a little uneasy about giving us permission to travel around the district but one of the police officers reminded him of a recent communication from the central government that it was necessary to facilitate the travels of foreigners in the country.  This amazed us for at that time tourism was not yet developed and we had never heard of such an edict.

However it appeared that at the time we needed it, God had arranged for a document to arrive in the town that would ease our work.  It was also providential that in the movement of police officers around the country two men would be in Hosanna who both knew us and again made our pastoral work easier.  Not only was God with us, but he had prepared for our visit in advance (hence the text at the start).

The upshot was that we were assigned a police escort (one policeman with a rifle) and were given permission to freely visit our members in the outlying villages.

Home > Online Magazine > Online Magazine: Edition 55 - Autumn (March-May) 2014 > An Incident in Hosanna (by Norman Tew)