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Small Church, Global Reach

In this age of overflowing mega churches and high-profile Christian ministries, can a tiny congregation hidden in the middle of America make a difference?

Consider West Covington Baptist Church. Kalkidan Tessema, a 4-year-old Ethiopian girl, is alive and well today thanks to this northern Kentucky church with a Sunday attendance of about 25 people.

Last year, when member Grace Wilson received e-mails from Southern Baptist missionaries in Africa about Kalkidan's plight, she felt compelled to act even further by bringing the need to the attention of her church. As a result, West Covington Baptist arranged for a life-saving operation that has impacted an entire African community and transformed the life of Grace's church.

"It has shown us that we can make a difference," says Grace. "One person can make a difference, not just in our local community but in our global community."

"It has definitely changed our outlook on how God can work when we're willing," adds West Covington's pastor, Chuck Overton.

From birth, Kalkidan suffered from a rare colon disease that forced her father to regularly flush it with water. After several operations, doctors told her family there was nothing else they could do and to prepare for the toddler's death…. With Grace's encouragement, her congregation agreed to sponsor a U.S. visit by Kalkidan and her father, Gashoway, an Ethiopian evangelist whose salary is the equivalent of $50 a month.

Media coverage of the operation helped bring in additional gifts, which totaled more than $18,500 by the time Kalkidan and her dad returned home last September….With funds left over, West Covington Baptist is sending the Tessema family a $125-a-month stipend until the fall of 2008. The money supplements Gashoway's modest pay and ensures they can purchase the nutritious food needed to maintain Kalkidan's health….

Though the heavy media coverage of the event didn't inspire many new visitors to West Covington Baptist, Pastor Overton knows Kalkidan's story is having a widespread effect. He has heard of other area ministers urging their congregations to perform similar good works.

"We don't know what God's going to do in other churches because of this," he says. "We don't know what God's going to do in this little girl's life in Ethiopia."

If nothing else, this miraculous journey has shown Overton and his flock that a small church can, indeed, change the world.

Condensed from our sister publication Today's Christian, © 2007 Christianity Today International. For more articles like this, visit Todays-Christian.com

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