[an error occurred while processing this directive] This article is from the EMU News Archive. The approximate date of publication was in December 2006. Current EMU news is available at www.emu.edu/news

Seminary Grad Provides Computer Technology to Ethiopian School

by Laura Lehman Amstutz

Kelly McDonald Kelly McDonald shows off one of the computers he built to use as a server for the other computers in Ethiopia.

HARRISONBURG, Va. — Kelly McDonald, a 2006 Eastern Mennonite Seminary graduate from Hinton, Va, has found a way to combine his technology expertise with his desire to serve and help others get a better education.

In January, 2007, McDonald will fly to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to install 90 older computers that were donated to Meserete Kristos College (MKC), a school that trains leaders of the Ethiopian Mennonite (Meserete Kristos) church, one of the fastest growing Mennonite groups in the world.

Meserete Kristos College began during the period when the church went underground. Now it is working at becoming a full-fledged liberal arts university in Ethiopia.

Ethiopian Church Leaders Trained at EMS

Many leaders of the Meserete Kristos church have been trained at EMS, where McDonald sat in courses with a number of them.

“Having been in close proximity to some of the Ethiopian leaders from Ethiopia, I have seen a tremendous amount of concern for evangelism, the life of the church there, and wanting to keep the church strong,” he said. “I believe that this kind of project will be used to further those goals.”

“Even if you don’t get that enthused about education in general, if you are excited about evangelism, I think this is the perfect dovetail project,” McDonald continued. “The resources that are going to the school will translate into the mission of the church."

“I’ve seen how strong the faith and vision of these church leaders is,” he added. “It’s quite contagious.”

Computer Installation Will Take Time and Money

Kelly McDonald

McDonald will only be in Ethiopia for two weeks, including travel time, so getting the computers networked efficiently is critical. Because “no one really knows what programs are on these computers or what condition they are in.” McDonald has decided to use the older computers as terminals. He hopes to remove those parts that could potentially go bad and then simply network them to two new computers he’s building stateside.

He’ll take these with him to Ethiopia and install them as servers in two locations. One server and set of terminals will be set up in a rented room in Addis Ababa, the capital. Here they will be used to teach computer courses. Church leaders hope to use the funds generated from these computer courses to help the school.

The second server and set of terminals will be set up in a computer lab on the new MKC campus in Debre Zeit. These computers will give students an opportunity to learn necessary computer skills and may eventually be used to connect MKC with other schools such as EMU for distance-learning courses.

McDonald, a computer engineer with VistaShare, has been working with computers for more than 15 years. “A project like this really gets me excited, because it helps to bridge the gap between my seminary education and my skills with computers,” he said.

McDonald Will Be Able to Use Both Seminary and Computer Skills

“I can see how my computer background will help promote education and church growth in Ethiopia. That feels pretty good to me.”

McDonald is trying to raise $4,000 to cover the cost of his travel and the equipment that must be purchased to network the computers. This project is being sponsored by Virginia Mennonite Board of Missions at the request of the leaders of MKC.

More information is available on Kelly McDonald’s blog at http://fammcdonald.net/blog/ethiopia. To donate to Kelly’s project, contact Virginia Mennonite Board of Missions, 540-434-9727.

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