Morkate Mito was a faithful evangelist in the Kale Heywet Church in southern Ethiopia.
Morkate was born in 1930 in the southern Ethiopian town of Gedeo. His father, Mito Dewlo, and his mother had four other children. His parents were hard working and diligent peasant farmers and, as a result, they were among the few able to support their families with the harvest every year. The father had a good heart and brought up his children with good morals.
Morkate was taken to the Andida School by his father who tried his best to support his son’s education by selling some of his harvest. In this way Morkate completed eighth grade at this school. Getting to school and back was a two hours’ walk every day.
Morkate then began to teach children in his village on his own. When he was twenty, he married Mulu in 1950. They had only one son who died young, and they grieved that they could not have a child of their own after that.
Morkate was an idol worshipper and had no peace in his heart. He tried to keep his heart quiet by all the means he knew such as taxing his body and witchcraft, but nothing worked. He hated evangelical Christians and was a persecutor. This tormented his soul even more, though he considered hating evangelicals a sign of becoming holy.
One day he revealed all his feelings to church elders and they told him to have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved with his family. He considered their advice useful when he found the verse they quoted to him from Acts 16:31. He then became a believer in 1953 and began to lead a peaceful life.
He continued to pursue spiritual knowledge from Ethiopians and from foreigners because he had enough skill in English. He grew mature in Bible knowledge and began to serve God, teaching and preaching. His gift was such that he touched the hearts of his hearers in his service. He knew how to explain God’s wonderful work of salvation through the revelation of the Holy Spirit and he vividly and convincingly described the work of the Holy Spirit in his life.
People of all ages came to his home from far and near. He served for many years with happiness. He was an elder in his church but because other elders knew his strength in preaching, they sent him to Ginir as an evangelist where he served for four years and won many souls for Christ. He was also on the board of the Ethiopian Kale Heywet Church for four years.
Many people recognized his ability as a committed servant of God. He was assigned to serve the government for eight years as an area district officer, where he began as a coordinator when the government first established the district office.
He then moved to Cheffie and worked as a coordinator during the establishment of the new SIM Office after the old one was confiscated. He worked for four years as administrator and chairman. He is also remembered as the caretaker of the cedar trees that still stand in the KHC compound in Cheffie.
He was persecuted because of his teaching and was imprisoned as a bandit in Kewado and Wonago prisons for five months. Mr. Brant had to intervene to get him released from prison.
An area of temptation was the fact that he had no children. His relatives tried to persuade him to marry another wife and have children. His response was that all Christians who came to faith through him were his children. But this did not release the pressure. So, he took his brother’s son as his own and brought him up and educated him until the young man married and lived a settled life. He also took another son from his sister-in-law and a daughter from his brother-in-law and brought them up in good care and in fear of the Lord.
He was known as a man of prayer and always held a devotional time in his home before food or coffee was served every day. He also helped the destitute by sacrificing his personal interests at the expense of his comfort and health. Most of his life was spent outside of his home helping others.
At one time, he came home to be with his family and was reading his Bible sitting in a chair outside the door of his home. He saw two creatures (accusers) standing in front of him and asked them, “Who are you and what do you want?” They responded: “We are demons and we are here to get revenge by accusing you in front of God because you have tormented us with your frequent prayers.” He resisted them in the name of Jesus and they were lost. After that time he prayed, “Lord, I feel that I am being tested by Satan like Job was tested, with your permission. Please don’t allow Satan to test me beyond what I can bear as that might lead me to grumble and backslide. I want you to take me home to heaven before this happens.”
A few days after this incident in 1953, he went back to his duties in Cheffie. He soon became very ill and was taken to Yirgalem Hospital. He stayed there for fifteen days and was diagnosed with cancer. He died two weeks later, survived by his wife and the children he had raised.
Translated from “Biography of Morkate Mito,” (unpub., Amharic, 1990) by Eyob Berhe, Dilla Kale Heywet Ministry Training Center.
This article, received in 2004, was researched and written by Dr. Dirshaye Menberu, retired professor from Addis Ababa University and graduate of the Ethiopian Graduate School of Theology (EGST), a DACB Participating Institution. EGST liaison coordinators are Dr. Paul and Mrs. Lila Balisky, DACB Advisory Council members.