Raised under Communist rule in Ethiopia, Seblewengel Daniel had the blessing of growing up in a Christian family and accepted Christ at an early age. Evangelical churches were scarce, and it proved difficult for Christians to find a church with a pastor who had a Bible and preached from it. The churches that fit this description were packed. Seble recalls arriving at church by 7:30 am every Sunday and waiting outside the church doors with her family, so that when the doors opened at 10 am, the family could find seats together.
Seble served in child and youth Sunday school programs and led the choir. She says she “longed and prayed to serve the Lord on a full-time basis.” The church leadership observed her teaching skills, and knowing the great need for biblically-educated ministry leaders, they asked her to consider an education in biblical studies to serve the church.
Seble and her church leaders explored training opportunities, though there were few private schools due to Communist laws. The public schools were extremely competitive because there were so many students and no private universities to help bear the burden of educating Ethiopian youth. Throughout this time of research and exploration, the Evangelical Theological College (ETC) sent brochures to Seble’s church, and the following year in 1993, she started her course work.
Seble earned her Bachelor’s degree in Theology and then returned to serve in her church. She utilized her skills and ministry gifts with another church as well as Serving In Mission (SIM) which helped establish the denomination in which her church is associated. She also taught at an Amharic Bible school that offered two-year certificates. In 2002, she earned her Master’s degree in Systematic Theology from the Ethiopian Graduate School of Theology (EGST).
While working on her Master’s thesis on the view of women and women’s ministry, she returned to ETC to serve as Registrar and faculty member. She also taught in her church’s higher-level Bible school. The ETC leadership continued to see her natural skillset for mentoring students and training staff, so they sent Seble to Ghana to complete her PhD in Theology.
In January 2012, Dr. Seble returned to teach Systematic Theology courses at ETC full-time, including the Doctrine of Christ and Salvation, the Church and the End Times, Ethics, Theological Matters in Africa and the Doctrine of the Holy Spirit. This semester, she teaches 83 students in three of these courses. The students are focusing on theological truths and applying them to their region and context.
One of her students recently presented on “The Church and Divorce in Ethiopia.” The student shared, “45% of Ethiopian marriages end in divorce. Some contextual challenges to marriage specific to various people groups in Ethiopia include, for example, women who are married against their will or who are kidnapped and forced into marriage.” Discussing these Ethiopian contextual challenges to marriage, the student approached the topic and its challenges using the biblical approaches and Christian moral ethics Dr. Seble taught.
Dr. Seble plans to serve at ETC for at least another six years, training hundreds of Ethiopian ministry leaders to approach Ethiopian challenges theologically as they study the Bible and apply it to their contexts. Her students love her classes and the challenging conversations she encourages.
She also teaches part-time at her other Ethiopian alma mater, EGST. Dr. Desta Heliso, EGST Director, identifies a critical aspect of Dr. Seble’s multiplication. “She has made significant strides in the area of campaigning against female genital mutilation in our country. She was the major voice behind the development of a declaration against it for the Evangelical Fellowship of Ethiopia, which has since disseminated the declaration and even took time to read it aloud at their General Assembly. This is important work. It is making a difference.”