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Touching Hearts and Transforming Lives in the Horn of Africa

Published on June 17, 2024

Beryl Achieng
FCA Ethiopia Leader Zinabu Kedir knows the power of sports. He’s experienced it firsthand and has seen God move in life-changing ways.

Zinabu Ethiopia Image“When you have a ball, everyone is drawn to you, regardless of their religious affiliation,” he said.

Zinabu accepted the call into sports ministry because he has always had a desire to share the Gospel with others and assist them in becoming followers of Jesus Christ. He wanted to make disciples particularly in the more difficult-to-reach parts of Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa, and discovered through some friends that the most effective method of reaching out to young people is through sports and games.

Finding His Calling in Life

After completing his high school education, Zinabu attended university to pursue a degree in law. It was during his time in the university that he had the opportunity to consider just how much he wanted to share the Gospel in his Ethiopian community.

“I had that moment of realization shortly before graduation and I immediately started praying about it,” said Zinabu. “The more I prayed about it, the more I felt the peace of God settle over me and I knew for sure that this [ministry] was my calling and purpose in life.”

After graduation, he began his career as a Human Resource Manager and Training Consultant at SIM Ethiopia Ministries. Though his main role was Human Resources and administration jobs, during camp season, he was the camp programs director. His biggest desire was to do camps all year round, but camp season was only during the summer months of July and August, so he threw himself into the work in those months.

lake-langano - Guide to Ethiopia.comWhile serving in this capacity, he saw sports friends lead camping ministry at Lake Langano and hundreds of kids come to know Christ through this ministry. He realized sports truly was a powerful tool for sharing the Gospel. It was there he began training coaches in sports ministry.

When Langano Camp closed in June 2018, Zinabu felt directionless, as this was his home and happy place for years. But he wanted to continue training and serving coaches and prayed for an opportunity.

Giving God the Reins

After a period of intense prayer, he gave his desires to God and trusted that He would direct him to what was best. That's when he founded REACH (Reaching Every Athlete and Coach for Him) Ministry and FCA. He first heard about FCA in 2015 when he received a Coaches’ Bible from missionaries, an invaluable resource that helped him grow spiritually and improve his skills as a coach. In 2018, he met then-FCA South Global VP Vincent Asamoah in Addis Ababa and started talking about potentially partnering for sports ministry.

Zinabu KedirIn 2019, after serving as a volunteer with fellow FCA Ethiopia Leader Sheleme during an FCA conference in Addis Ababa, Zinabu met more FCA teammates from the U.S. and Africa and had more in-depth discussions about serving together. After a period of volunteer service and extensive discussions, REACH became a partner ministry to FCA in 2021. Thanks to the partnership between REACH and FCA, sports ministry has gained widespread recognition and is having a significant impact not only in Ethiopia but also in the Horn of Africa. Zinabu feels privileged and grateful every day to see God working out His purpose through this calling.

Said Zinabu:

“God has brought 12 dedicated volunteers who have generously given their time, energy, and even their finances towards this ministry and are interested in serving alongside me for many years to come.”

Soccer Ball Success

In Arsi, one of Zinabu’s focus areas in Ethiopia, the local church was facing a huge challenge from the village youth, who would throw large rocks on the roof to scare believers during worship.

One day after conducting a training session, a coach asked Zinabu if he could help get soccer balls for the kids. They received five soccer balls from FCA teammates in Tennessee and gave them to Abdisa Wako, the local coach, who started leading Discovery Bible Study with the youth after soccer while they played twice a week. Coach Wako began to see a transformation in the village since soccer and Bible study became a regular occurrence. Currently, seven young athletes have been baptized and another thirteen have come to Christ.

Accomplishing FCA’s Mission in the Horn of Africa

Zinabu’s story is an inspiring example of just how powerful sports can be in touching hearts and changing lives. It’s also a real-life illustration of how when we let God work out His purpose through us, in His way and time, nothing can stand in His way, even in the hardest-to-reach areas of the world.

Please pray for God to continue to move in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa through leaders like Zinabu and coaches like Coach Wako. Pray for more volunteers and leaders to join what God is doing through sports ministry in Africa.

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Photos by Zinabu and guidetoethiopia.com