Frumentius, Missionary (27 Oct 380)
(From the Lutheran Calendar)
Onesimos, was born in about 1855, in western Ethiopia. He was captured by slave traders and brought to the coast. There Swedish missionaries bought him, freed him, educated him, and converted him. He belonged to the Oromo people, the largest linguistic group in Ethiopia, and he proceeded to translate the Bible into Oromo, and returned to his homeland to minister to the Oromo people. He died there on 21 June 1931.
[NOTE: In earlier drafts of this BIO, I wrote "Galla" rather than "Oromo." However, I have been informed by a correspondent from the Oromo Liberation Front that the word "Galla" means "uncultured" in the Amhara language (that of the dominant minority in the country), and is rejected by the people in question. I have not the expertise to evaluate the political situation in Ethiopia, but report that both terms are used, so that a reader who encounters a reference somewhere to the Galla, and another to the Oromo, will understand that the references are to the same people and language.]
It should be noted that the country of Ethiopia was already officially Christian. In the fourth century, the great theologian and bishop Athanasius of Alexandria in Egypt consecrated the Syrian Frumentius (dates approximately 300-380) as Bishop of Ethiopia, and he established the Christian Church in that land. (His commemoration is 1 August in Ethiopia, and 27 October in the West.) By this century, however, because of changes of language, there was no longer any translation of the Scriptures in a language understood by the people, and the religious education of the people (not through any conspiracy) was very sketchy. If my memory is correct, a modern translation was produced around 1950 by order of the Emperor Haile Selassie, which had to be printed from photocopies of an original written by the Emperor in his own hand, since otherwise the people refused to accept it.
Prayer (traditional language)
Almighty and everlasting God, we thank thee for thy servant
Frumentius, by whom thy Church was first planted in Ethiopia,
and for thy servant Onesimos Nesib, whom thou didst call to
minister to the Oromo people of Ethiopia, and to furnish them
with the Scriptures in their own tongue. Raise up, we beseech
thee, in this and every land evangelists and heralds of thy
kingdom, that thy Church may proclaim the unsearchable riches
of our Savior Jesus Christ; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who
with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, for
ever and ever.
Almighty and everlasting God, we thank you for your servant Frumentius, by whom your Church was first planted in Ethiopia, and for your servant Onesimos Nesib, whom you called to minister to the Oromo people of Ethiopia. Raise up in this and every land evangelists and heralds of your kingdom, that your Church may proclaim the unsearchable riches of our Savior Jesus Christ; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.