This series of Living Legends is about Vida McLellan, a missionary nurse who served in Ethiopia from 1955 – 1974. Let’s continue…
The pagan people of her village expected to see Baloti and Omocho weep and wail and cut themselves with sharp knives and sticks. But they didn’t. The people were surprised at the peace and calm they saw. They were even more amazed when Baloti exclaimed, “Is God not wonderful? My little girl is with the Lord. To think that God chose my little girl when there are so many lovely girls! Yet the Lord chose mine. Is that not wonderful?” Though her heart was sad she was able to rejoice in the Lord. What a difference Jesus had made in their lives. It was not long after that, that a boy was born to this faithful couple. They named him Desta, which means Joy.
Then Omocho and Baloti felt the call of God to take the Gospel to the unreached and difficult Mallo tribe. Mallo was at least five days walk away. Omocho left first to find a place for them to live, then he returned to take Baloti and Desta to this remote land. They packed up their meagre possessions and said goodbye to their friends and set off. Omocho carried their few goods on his head while Baloti carried Desta on her back. They had no shoes for their feet. They went up and down stony mountains, through thorn bushes and across hot valleys, through tall grass where wild animals lurked. Their feet were cut up, but God was with them and they were happy.
Omocho had built a small one roomed grass house in Mallo and together he and Baloti planted a garden. Soon Omocho was travelling around the mountains preaching and teaching. Baloti taught the women. Often she was lonely and she tried hard to make friends with the local women. It was not easy for strangers. Omocho was out working with the men and talking to them of Jesus, but they just couldn’t get through to the people. It was such a strange story they had to tell about a man who loved them enough to die for them.
One day Omocho was called back to Woliatta to help find a boy who had been lost. He found the boy and with a group of traders began to take him back home. They were crossing the lands of the feared Sidamo tribe. It was unsafe to travel alone. At a river Omocho stopped for a drink, but he was cut off, ambushed and killed. His body was mutilated. When the news reached Baloti she was deeply shocked and sad, but she refused to weep and wail as the heathen people did. When friends came to take her back to Wolaitta for the period of mourning the Mallo people said, “Now she will leave us. Now we will see just how much she cares about us. She will take her baby son and go.” They were so worried that they would never see her again. So, Baloti did a very courageous thing. She left her son Desta with the Mallo people as a pledge against her return while she went to Wolaitta to bury her husband. When she returned to Mayo after three months Baloti stayed there in her husband’s place. She saw hundreds turn to Christ and churches were established. She was only thirty-five years old. God had chosen a slave girl to share in His riches. It was a great challenge. There were so many hardships. There was dangerous opposition.
Praise the Lord there are over 180 churches in the Mallo area today. Why? Because a slave girl and her slave husband were willing to lay their all on the altar for the Lord Jesus Christ. He can use anyone of us if we make ourselves available to Him. He chooses the weak, the foolish things of the world to reach others. Baloti died recently, she was in her nineties. She served the Lord in Wolaitta to the very last years of her life and she was recognised as an elder of the Ethiopian Christian people. Her faith cost her everything. What has our faith cost us?
The day of the Convention arrived. What if no one came? We were so anxious. All of a sudden we heard the sound of joyful singing coming around the side of the mountain. What a wonderful sight it was to see all these women, almost five hundred, with their babies and bundles of clothes on their backs, with food for three days. They all settled into the Bible school to sleep on the ground. They did their own cooking. At the Women’s Convention, there were no men. Selma, who had a great love for the women, gave such challenging messages about their walk with the Lord, their care of their homes, children and husbands. Baloti challenged the women about trusting the Lord and giving to support the evangelists and churches. She was an excellent speaker and interpreter. She had come to Bulki to work with me among the women in the area. At the meetings there were many confessions of sin and many came to know the Lord for the first time.
At the end of the meetings an offering was taken up. Baloti challenged them to give and they kept on giving and making pledges. Then they even started giving their clothes, so much so, that I was getting concerned that they would have nothing left to keep warm. It was very cold and damp up on the Bulki Mountain at eight thousand five hundred feet, but it didn’t seem to bother them. They were just so happy and rejoicing in the Lord. They were so grateful for all that God had done for them. It was a very moving sight for us all. It was very humbling and one thing about that convention that I will never forget.