It is with great sadness tempered with grace and hope that we share with you this report. At about 5pm Sunday, December 9, Ethiopian time, our beloved brother, Gerald Gotzen went home to be with the Lord. He was in Ethiopia returning to Addis Ababa from a meeting in Hosanna when the car he was riding in collided with a truck. It is our understanding he died on route to the hospital. His body was then transported to Addis Ababa.
Just 10 weeks ago, on September 22, his beloved wife, Elly, passed away suddenly in a fire. They were married for 55 years.
Gerald deeply loved Ethiopia and devoted more than 50 years of his life to this unique land and people. He told Jonathan Bernis, CEO of Jewish Voice, many times that he wanted to be in Ethiopia when he went to be with the Lord. Sadly, his passing was far sooner than any of us would have imagined. Gerald, born in Redhill, England, was 77 years old.
“I met Gerald in Addis Ababa back in 2004,” Jonathan recalls, “and we immediately became friends. His love for Ethiopia was contagious and, through him, I grew to love Ethiopia as well.” Gerald soon became a member of our Jewish Voice UK board and served faithfully in that role for more than a decade.
Gerald Gotzen was a world-renowned leading authority on Ethiopian Jews. He discovered the Kechene community of Beta Abraham Jewish people of Addis Ababa, the Gefat of Woliso, and the Yibir of Somaliland. For each discovery, he credits the help of a different man with whom he partnered. In 2014, together with JVMI’s Africa Director at the time, he also discovered the hidden Beta Israel remnant in Tach Gayint, Ethiopia.
Gerald made four to five trips to Ethiopia each year, spending three weeks or more on each visit. He and Elly distributed large consignments of Bibles and literature and ministered practically to the Ethiopian people. Gerald Gotzen opened many doors for JVMI in that nation, serving as an Ambassador of the Kingdom of God. He was received by presidents, prime ministers, ambassadors, patriarchs and kings and spoke into their lives.
Most importantly, Gerald was a man of faith who deeply loved the Lord with all his heart, soul and strength. Although we will all miss him greatly, he is now rejoicing in the presence of the Lord and reunited with his beloved bride and the many he helped lead to righteousness.
“Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever” (Daniel 12:3).