With recourse to the broader Ethiopian, evangelical and biographical contexts, identify the missional motivations and strategies of Dick McLellan.
Voyaging across the Indian Ocean, Dick and Vida McLellan wrote: ‘anyone on board that we mention to that we are going to Africa, looks at us as though we are crazy. With all the uncertainty in Africa today, we, too would much rather stay at home where we are free and safe’.Nevertheless, this self-confessedly ‘very ordinary Australian couple’ would serve for twenty years as missionaries with Serving in Mission (SIM) in Ethiopia (1954–1974). There, they would pioneer the evangelisation of unreached tribes and fan flames of revival. Thereafter, despite having returned to Australia with four children, and in the face of the Socialist uprising of 1974, Dick would visit Ethiopia over twenty times to encourage the underground church.
This paper seeks to explain both the motivations and strategies of Dick McLellan as he ministered in this unique context. It is by analysis of early correspondences, later books, and recent interviews that his missional motivations and strategies will be identified. We will argue for five major motivators that inspired McLellan’s missionary endeavours: his conviction that there is only one way to be saved, that much of southern Ethiopia was unreached, that all Christians have a responsibility for mission, that he was personally called to go, and the encouragement received from observing church growth. With respect to strategies, we will show Dick’s thinking with regard to the location and placement of their mission work in Ethiopia, their partnership with the indigenous church in evangelism and edification, and the priority of prayer.