Dr. Thomas Lambie
Dr. Thomas Lambie

At SCH, we are standing on the shoulders of Christian pioneer missionaries and missionary doctors who went before us.  As we approach our ten-year anniversary in a few months, we thought we’d take a look at where we began, and how far God has brought us.

Dr. Thomas Lambie was a medical missionary with the American Presbyterian Mission working among the Sudanese Nuer people.  In 1918, he became the first American missionary in Ethiopia when he sailed up the Baro River and began working among the people of the Wellega region.  He labored there for the next 10 years, founding a hospital, a school, and a vibrant church.  At this point, he combined forces with two other missionaries – Albert Rhoad and George Buxton – and founded Abyssinian Frontiers Mission.

Now at that time, Christianity had not made its way into the southern part of Ethiopia.  At least fifty different people groups occupied the south, and most were engaged in animistic worship and witchcraft.  Some accounts say they were devoted to the occult and the “worship of Satan”.  Dr. Lambie and his colleagues were deeply burdened by this and desired to penetrate this area with the Gospel.  Abyssinian Frontiers Mission merged with the Sudan Interior Mission (SIM), and was given permission to set up a mission station in the South.  The most logical place at that time was Soddo.

The governor of Soddo was a man named Dejazmatch Yigezu who providentially had been a patient of Dr. Lambie’s in Wellega.  He remembered the doctor, and welcomed the missionaries.  (In addition, the missionaries had the support of Emperor Haile Selassie since the magistrates of Wellega had spoken highly of them).  The mission station in Soddo was established by 1929, and evangelistic efforts were spreading out from there to Sidamo (Yirga Alem), and Gamo Gofa (Arba Minch).

It should be noted that Soddo was chosen as the main hub because of its easy access to Addis Ababa.  At that time, it took two weeks with a mule caravan to reach Soddo from Addis.  But this was considered a good distance for fetching supplies, and yet still to be a good launching point to reach the South!

In the next post, we’ll tell you how the Church in Soddo began under the mission work of the Lambies and others…

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St. Luke’s Health Care Foundation
(630) 510-2222
St. Luke's Health Care Foundation PO Box 4465
Wheaton, IL 60189-4465