The Spoken Worldwide ministry requires the dedication and hard work of many saints, from many walks of life, to build and nurture relationships and create indigenous audio content that will transform lives.
We humbly walk together with Christ, with each team member bringing their unique life experience to pour into our mission.
Today, we’d like you to meet Yohannes Faye, our Director of East Africa Programs.
Yohannes, tell us what you do at Spoken.
Hi, thanks for sharing my story. I currently lead the Pastor Development Program in East and North Africa. I also oversee some programs in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and contribute to other sister programs and initiatives in the Spoken ministry.
Can you tell us more about the Pastor Development Program (PDP)?
Our Pastor Development Program is instrumental to the success of our mission. It was developed specifically for the oral learners of the world to help fulfill the Great Commission as described by Jesus Christ in Matt 28:18-20. At the heart of the Commission is the command to make disciples of Christ by, among other things, “teaching them all that I have commanded you to observe, and equipping these believers to do the work of ministry.” (Eph 4:12) Within the PDP, we partner with churches and ministries which are working in their respective mission fields to design and implement effective programs. This partnership work aims to raise and develop leaders that will eventually reach their oral learner groups with the claims of Jesus Christ.
What brought you to Spoken Worldwide?
Prior to Spoken, I had spent nearly two decades in missions in various places and areas of ministry, predominantly in oral communities. Though I was fully aware of the challenges encountered in communicating the gospel clearly through orality, I was yet to find an organization that applied a well-conceived strategy to overcome this difficulty. It was this focused articulation of both the challenge, and the opportunity to fulfill the Great Commission among the oral cultures of the world, that drew me to Spoken.
Tell us about your experience in coming to Christ.
Well, let me take you back many years to when I was growing up in an Ethiopian orthodox family in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I had the privilege of going to a parochial Catholic School for my elementary and middle school years. It was during this time that I was introduced to some religious instruction. Then, one day when I was in high school, my pharmaceutical salesman father brought home to me a gift he received from a pharmacist. The gift he brought me was a Gideon New Testament and it triggered a pivotal point in my young life.
Keep in mind, at the time, there was severe persecution of evangelicals in Ethiopia, where nearly all evangelical churches were closed, and most Christian activity went underground. Since community resources were not available to me, I read the New Testament on my own, and came to understand the saving power of Jesus Christ. Contrary to what I thought was the right way of earning favor with God, I read in Rom. 4 that Abraham was not saved because of his good deeds, but through God’s grace alone. What a powerful moment for me! This drove me to read the New Testament in full where I was provoked by the claims of Jesus Christ and the saving grace He offers to those who come to Him in repentance and faith.
Where did you go to school?
I earned my first degree in Science from Addis Ababa University (AAU). I then went on to attend the Nairobi International School of Theology and Dallas Theological Seminary where I earned my theological and biblical degrees.
Walk me through what a typical day looks like for you with Spoken?
I am not sure there is a typical day at Spoken because each day is so dynamic! Since our ministry revolves around local partnerships, communication with our partners and the mission fields takes a significant amount of time and focus when I am not in the field. We currently have over 14 projects in five countries that keep me quite engaged. In addition to these direct responsibilities, there is always something going on with other strategies within our ministry that might benefit from my involvement, especially if that strategy involves the East and North African regions.
When you aren’t working, what do you enjoy doing?
Family time is always fun. I also enjoy riding a bike and watching a good deal of documentaries of all sorts. A real treat is catching a Dallas Cowboys or an Arsenal fc game on TV. Oh, and I also enjoy taking care of the lawn!
What is one of the most inspiring times you’ve experienced working at Spoken?
One of the most inspiring times was working on the Borana project in Ethiopia. To explain, let me first provide some context…
Shortly after I began working as a young missionary 25 years ago, I was asked to help with a church plant in Nairobi, Kenya. At that time, I was also working weekdays, helping students at the University of Nairobi. The new work with the church plant was in Kariobangi, with the oral people groups of Borana and Burji. Needless to say, these two experiences were vastly different from each other – working with literate students during the week, and oral learners on the weekend. The experience with Borana and Burji proved to be a challenge, as I believed was ill- equipped to work among an entirely oral population. In contrast, I had the tools and the training to work among the university students.
Fast forward to when I came to Spoken, and one of the first programs we started in Ethiopia was the Borana project. After learning of the project, I could immediately see God’s wisdom and how He was using me to fulfill His work. This second time in Borana was so meaningful and exciting because I was better equipped and had a viable strategy to effectively communicate the Word of God among the Borana. Nearly three years after starting the program, we are rewarded by seeing men and women become fully equipped for the task of ministry, in the manner and language that makes the most sense to them and their communities.
Is there any one thing you’d like readers to take away today about Spoken and the work we do?
It is not uncommon to spend a significant part of our Christian life without learning the plight, the need, the challenges, and the opportunities that orality and oral cultures present to world mission. The most rewarding aspect I have enjoyed at Spoken is the focused dedication our organization has to help fulfill the Great Commission among the oral learners of the world.
Pray for Yohannes
Please ask God to grant Yohannes wisdom as he leads the Pastor Development Programs in East and North Africa.