Tributes have been paid to an Ethiopian Mission pioneer from the area.
Jim McClelland, a tailor by trade, passed away last month and a service of thanksgiving for his life was held in Whitewell Metropolitan Tabernacle, followed by interment in Roselawn Cemetery. He died peacefully at hospital,leaving behind his beloved wife Eleanor .
Just over 11 years ago Jim, of Ashgrove, Dunmurry, felt called by God to go to Ethiopia. Not knowing anyone in the country, Jim, a member of Whitewell Metropolitan Tabernacle Church, phoned round organisations to see if they would accept him to help work amongst children in Ethiopia.
A crumpled up piece of paper sitting on a secretary’s desk with the area code of the Debre Zeit, led him to Ethiopia.
Without a word to his family until the day before, he booked a ticket and out he went. In the midst of thunder and lightning he arrived in the village of Kuriftu where he was led into a mud hut.
Jim’s daughter Karen explained that her father believed God met with him that night and showed him the plan to help the children and people of Ethiopia.
“At the same time a lovely man of God named Bezabih Toloso who lived in the village of Kuriftu had been praying that God would send someone who could help his people. These two men under the anointing of God worked together to bring God’s plan to fruition,” said Karen.
This divine appointment was to explode into the great missionary work that is now established in the area, of a scale that neither of these men could have first imagined.
From 2003 until he died, Jim spent his days working tirelessly on behalf of the children of Ethiopia. He travelled to Ethiopia several times each year while his health permitted to oversee the construction work that was taking place at a rapid pace.
Today there is a 2,000 seat church, also a feeding programme, a clinic, a school and college, teaching children up to 18 years of age. The college also serves the adult community in the local area.
Over his last few years Jim fought the complications associated with diabetes, spending much of his time in hospital. Despite doctors’ advice, Jim would leave the hospital, signing himself out in order to be with the children he loved.
Many tributes were paid during his thanksgiving service and it was very evident by the hundreds of people who attended the service how much Jim was loved and respected wherever he went.
Jim’s family and friends intend to continue his legacy via the Hope for Ethiopia 7 Facebook page.