Read letters from Stephen and Brenda Stelle
The 2015 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 142
Rev. Stephen Stelle and Brenda Stelle
Mission co-workers in Ethiopia since 2013
Serving at the invitation of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus at Bethel Evangelical Secondary School and Gidada Bible School
Brenda and Stephen will next be in the US and available to visit congregations June - September 2015. Email them to extend an invitation to speak at your congregation or organization.
About Stephen and Brenda Stelle's ministries
Brenda Stelle teaches English at the Bethel Evangelical Secondary School (BESS) in Dembi Dollo. The Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY) is a longtime partner of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). BESS was started by the EECMY with the help of Presbyterians in the United States in the 1960s. It is located in the Didessa Valley, which is considered the “bread basket” of Ethiopia, with fertile soil and consistent rains. Local infrastructure, however, is not good—roads are often impassable during the rainy season, and phone and electric systems are unreliable. BESS is a boarding school that provides a high-quality education for the youth of the remote region it serves. The premier education that BESS provides has been the key factor enabling many of its graduates to become leaders in the Ethiopian Church and society.
Stephen serves as an instructor at Gidada Bible School, working with the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus as a mentor/trainer of pastors. Because of the rapid growth of the EECMY, the church has a tremendous need for well-trained clergy. Gidada Bible School is in the process of moving to a diploma institution and is eager for the PC(USA)’s accompaniment in that venture.
Ethiopia is the second most populous country in Africa. It has been an independent country since ancient times, and unlike other African countries, it maintained its freedom from colonial rule except for a brief period of Italian occupation from 1936 to 1941. Its monarchy was overthrown in 1974 and the country is now a democratic republic. More than half of the population is Christian and a third is Muslim. While Ethiopia has struggled with severe poverty and hunger issues, it currently boasts one of the fastest-growing economies on the African continent.
About Stephen and Brenda Stelle
Brenda and Stephen say they spent their life together seeking to be faithful servants in God’s mission to the world. “Together as partners we have served in the local church for 30 years,” Stephen says. Stephen has been a pastor and Brenda, an English teacher by profession, has faithfully filled various roles in the parishes Stephen served.
“However, ever since I was a small child I felt the Lord calling me to serve in international mission,” Brenda says. It’s a calling she first felt after hearing a missionary from Japan speak to her Sunday school class.
In the months before they applied for mission service, Stephen also felt “God nudging me to broaden my horizons” in service to the world church. Therefore the time seemed right for them to continue their ministry partnership in a new place and culture. “It’s always been our one desire to answer God’s call, and now we are called to serve in Ethiopia,” Stephen says.
“It is our hope that Christ will be lifted up and glorified by the work we share with our partner church,” Brenda says. She wants her students to obtain greater fluency in English so that they can find viable careers and “follow the paths God has chosen for them.” Stephen trusts that his 30 years of experience will help him offer theological and biblical training that his students can apply practically in their church settings.
As the Stelles consider God’s love for the world, they are inspired by Genesis 12:3: “I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
“Here in God’s covenant with Abraham we see God’s plan to save people of all nations through the death and resurrection of Jesus, who was both God’s Son and a descendant of Abraham,” Stephen says. “This reminds us that the gospel of Jesus is for all the people of the world.”
Prior to entering mission service Brenda taught regularly as a substitute high school English teacher in the Sharpsville and Hermitage school districts in Pennsylvania. She also has served as a freshman writing instructor at Indiana University/Purdue University in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and as an instructor at the University of Northwestern Ohio in Lima.
Brenda earned her bachelor’s degree in English from Alliance College in Cambridge Springs, Pennsylvania, did graduate study at Indiana University in Fort Wayne, and completed her teacher certification coursework at Westminster College in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania.
Stephen received his undergraduate degree from Grove City College in Grove City, Pennsylvania, and his master’s degree from Princeton Theological Seminary. A member of Shenango Presbytery, he was pastor of Faith Presbyterian Church in Hermitage, Pennsylvania, for 15 years prior to his mission appointment. He served as pastor of two rural Ohio churches simultaneously. From 1983 to 1998 he was pastor of First United Presbyterian Church in Delphos and First Presbyterian Church in Middlepoint.
Stephen- August 26
Brenda- August 13