This week, please join us in prayer for Tekletsadik Belachew in Ethiopia.
The largest country in the Horn of Africa, by both population and area, Ethiopia wields tremendous influence in East Africa. Around 67% of Ethiopia’s 116 million people identify as Christians and 31% as Muslims. This month, conflict between the federal government and Fano, an Amhara militia, has intensified in Ethiopia’s Amhara region. After the Oromo, who comprise 35% of the national population, the Amhara are the second largest ethnic group, representing 27% of Ethiopians. Suspicious of the Oromo-led government they had recently aided in the Tigrayan War, which ended in a 2022 peace treaty signed without Amhara representation, many Amhara fighters have joined Fano in defiance of federal plans to disband special forces across the country’s 11 ethnic-based regions. After a series of Fano-led raids and advances earlier this month, the government responded with heavy deployments into Amhara and a suspected air strike. Pray for peace in northern Ethiopia and for peacemakers to stand together across ethnic lines.
Tekle is pursuing a PhD in Historical Theology through Concordia Seminary (St. Louis, Missouri). Through his research on Patristics (the study of early Christian theologians) and the History of Exegesis (biblical interpretation), Tekle seeks to strengthen continuity between Ethiopian Evangelicalism and the Early Church, encourage Christian unity, and enrich ecumenical dialogue and cooperation. See Tekle’s monograph and book contributions here.
Prior to his studies, Tekle taught Theology and Church History at Mekane Yesus Seminary in Addis Ababa, and worked for several Christian organizations, including Food for the Hungry, Tearfund, and World Vision. In addition to supporting Tekle’s doctoral research through Leader Studies, Scholar Leaders also collaborates with Mekane Yesus Seminary through the Vital Sustainability Initiative. Tekle lives in Addis Ababa with his wife Nunu, their daughter Beza (12), and their son Leul (9).
Tekle shares the following message:
Dear Christian Friends:
Greetings from Ethiopia!
We appreciate your prayers for Ethiopia.
Pray for Peace and Stability
Currently, the situation in Ethiopia is dire. Traveling outside the capital is no longer safe. According to local and international news outlets, millions are undergoing continual agony and suffering. Ethnic-based conflicts, imprisonments, and killings occur daily in different regions, resulting in death, destruction, and displacement. Conflict is even escalating in the Amhara, Oromia, Afar, and Gambella regions.
Ethiopia’s war has been named the “deadliest” as the world sees record-high battle-related deaths in 2022, revealed by the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO). Even after the war ended between the government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front in Pretoria, tension and conflict lingered without clarity, leaving the county’s future uncertain.
The ongoing war, ethnic cleansing through internal displacement, and the demolition of historic and ordinary citizens’ houses – all sponsored or reluctantly supported by the despot in power – have deprived many of livelihood. Daily ethnic-based imprisonments and killings have increased. Human rights violations – including the imprisonment of journalists, political activists, and other professionals, as well as the targeting of suspected opponents of the ruling Prosperity Party – have increased at an alarming pace.
Unceasing breaking news has been negatively affecting the people’s psychological wellbeing. For almost four months, a law-and-order disarming operation inflicted lots of damage on civilians in the Amhara region, resulting in a state of emergency starting on August 4. Following the state of emergency declaration in Amhara, mass imprisonment has been carried out in the capital, Addis Ababa, and in other regions based on ethnic identity. A couple members of the House of Representatives have also been imprisoned.
Please pray for freedom, justice, peace, dignity, and tranquility.
Pray for Religious Freedom
The unity and sanctity of religious institutions have also been endangered by politicians who insert tribal politics and political interests to control power. Due to government interference, there have been divisions and threats of splits or disunity among the Orthodox, Muslims, and Evangelicals.
Government forces have also demolished religious buildings (both churches and mosques), defiled sacred spaces, and, above all, cost the precious lives of clergy and laity. A recent example is the massacre of over 500 monks and civilians in the monastery of Debre Elias, an ancient Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (EOTC) in Gojjam, Amhara.
Major religious groups have experienced political interferences and impositions. Not long ago, the illegal appointment of separatist EOTC Bishops in the Oromia region disturbed both the Church and the society at large. This separatist act was anathematized not only by the Holy Synod of the EOTC, but also by other Oriental and Eastern Orthodox churches, as well as by the World Council of Churches.
Please pray for religious freedom against political interference.
Pray for Economic Well-Being
Ironically, under the rulership of the Prosperity Party, the population has been languishing in abject poverty and experiencing stress due to the economic crisis. The war, corruption, embezzlement, and mismanagement of public resources and funds toward making luxury palaces and resorts contribute to the current predicament. The displacements, demolitions of historic and ordinary houses and villages (700 thousand around Addis in the newly invented Sheger City), and corruption are all connected with the political ideology of an administration that glories in impoverishing countless families. While undermining people’s lives and dignity, politicians unashamedly claim they are “making the poor legal,” as one political leader said mockingly on TV.
Please pray for human flourishing and the revitalization of our economic life.
Pray for the Lausanne 4Regional Meeting
The Lausanne regions of Africa and the Middle East are hosting a regional gathering, called the L4AM conference, as part of the Lausanne 4 journey. This will be happening in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 14-17 November 2023. Last year, I attended the preparation meeting. Now, I am invited to be one of the panel presenters at the L4AM gathering.
Pray for the gathering as we seek to listen to God’s voice and to one another.
Pray for Wisdom for My International Editorial Board Role
I am honored to be invited to join the International Editorial Board of the Dictionary of African Christian Biography and the Journal of African Christian Biography.
The current issue (vol. 8, no. 3, July 2023) of theJournal of African Christian Biography highlights my book, Stories from the Fireplace: Theological Meditations on Haile Gerima’s Cinema, with a review and excerpt.
Please pray for wisdom in my role as a member of the editorial board.
Pray for My Studies
After the approval of my dissertation prospectus last spring, I have been working on my dissertation. Please pray for wisdom, focus, productivity, and speed in the process.