Gerald Gotzen

Remembering a True Hero

By Nic Lesmeister - MJBI President and CEO
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Posted in Featured Articles, Latest News, Newsletter, on December 13, 2018

Dear Friends,

On Sunday, December 9, I received the very sad news from MJBI Chairman Rabbi Jonathan Bernis that one of our personal heroes went to be with the Lord in a car accident in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Gerald Gotzen was born in Great Britain during the throes of World War II, in 1941. He and his wife of 55 years, Ely, were invited to move to Lalibela, Ethiopia by the granddaughter of the great Haile Selassie in the 1960s. Gerald spent nearly 50 years working in Ethiopia and the Middle East.

His heart for Israel, the Jewish people, and the Messianic Jewish community was unparalleled. Many in the ancient Ethiopian Jewish communities call him the “white father” of Ethiopian Jewry. Jonathan Bernis met Gerald on his second trip to Ethiopia, in 2004. It was Gerald who introduced Jonathan, Jewish Voice, and eventually MJBI to the Beta Abraham community in Addis, and then later to the Beta Israel in Gondar and the Gafat Beta Israel in Woliso.

I first met Gerald when Dr. Wayne Wilks and I landed in a small prop plane in northern Ethiopia to teach at our MJBI school there. Gerald was standing in the open door of a different prop plane, awaiting a flight to a small Ethiopian city. As we crossed the tarmac, Gerald recognized Wayne and yelled out to him in his ever-joyous British accent.

Over the next seven years, I was with Gerald numerous times in Ethiopia. He knew everyone and was a true Kingdom ambassador in the Horn of Africa. I often received emails from him when he was in some remote village, standing with the leader of a Muslim community who just professed faith in Yeshua, or with leaders of hidden Jewish communities who trusted him.

At a hotel in Addis, Gerald once introduced me to a very high-ranking Ethiopian Orthodox priest, who told me that he had seen the Ark of the Covenant personally (rumored to be hidden in the northern Ethiopian city of Axum, home of the Queen of Sheba). This same priest had been confiding in Gerald that he was Jewish and that, if anyone ever found out, he would likely lose his position with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. As we spoke with the priest, Gerald turned and grinned at me with his infectious smile. This was a common occurrence for him.

There have been very few people in the world like Gerald Gotzen. Much of the ministry fruit of Jewish Voice International and MJBI in Ethiopia can be directly traced to Gerald’s years of sowing in Ethiopian fields and opening incredible doors for us to minister the love of Yeshua to the Jewish communities there.

We are beyond honored to have Gerald’s work in the form of our SMT course, The Rising Star of David in Africa, where he shares his incredible knowledge of the Ethiopian Jews. To honor Gerald’s amazing legacy, we will be offering this course for free to all of you through January 15, 2019. I strongly encourage you to sign up and take it in your free time.

Take This FREE Course >

In Judaism, when someone dies, the community says, “May their memory be a blessing.” Gerald Gotzen blessed and inspired me in ways that few people ever will. He was a true hero. I pray that his memory would bless you as well.

We rejoice that Gerald is with Yeshua now, receiving the certain, great rewards for his faithfulness to the King of Kings. But we will dearly miss his uninhibited innocence, inspiring faith, and noble wisdom.


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Nic Lesmeister