On July 12, 1968, Walde Gabriel and Araiah, members of the Orthodox Presbyterian mission in the Senafi-Adi Caieh area of Ethiopia, were ordained as ruling elders. OPC missionary Francis Mahaffy rejoiced in the clear evidence of strong faith for both men despite severe trials. Walde Gabriel, a former Coptic priest, had his life threatened, lost money and property, and had his wife divorce him because of his stand for Christ. Araiah was arrested and imprisoned under false charges, but did not recant the faith. The previous year his wife, Ittai, publicly confessed her faith in Christ after many years of Araiah's witness to her. Together, Araiah and Ittai endeavored to raise their five children in the Lord.
As the mission rejoiced over the ordination of Walde Gabriel and Araiah, there was also the bittersweet emotions accompanying the Mahaffy's return to the United States for pastoral ministry. Francis Mahaffy wrote,
As I left the field and people where God placed us for many years, for the States, Araiah remarked that the believers had been too dependent on me in the past but with my departure they would have to lean more heavily on the Word and the Holy Spirit. Pray that our departure in God's providence may open the door to a more rapid growth in Christ's church which had just been founded.
Picture: From left to right, Araiah, Francis Mahaffy, and Walde Gabriel