Over the next several weeks, the ScholarLeaders Prayer Community will be interceding for Christian leaders from Anglophone Africa. Geographically, culturally, and religiously diverse, the 23 nations that list English as an official language span the continent, from Kenya and Tanzania in the east to Sierra Leone and Liberia in the west to South Africa and Botswana in the south. To learn more about Anglophone Africa, visit our Prayer Community page. This week, please pray with us for Teklesadik Belachew in Ethiopia.
The largest country in the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia wields tremendous influence in East Africa. Christianity has a long history in Ethiopia, possibly since the first-century conversion of the unnamed courtier in Acts 8. Today, 68% of Ethiopia’s 118 million people are Christians and 31% are Muslims. Political allegiances fall sharply along ethnic lines. Following contested elections in 2020, civil war broke out in northern Ethiopia between regional Tigray leaders and the federal government. Hundreds of thousands have died, tens of thousands have suffered rape, up to a million face starvation, and five million remain displaced. Recently, in a separate attack in western Ethiopia, the rebel Oromo Liberation Army reportedly killed hundreds of civilians from the Amhara ethnic group. Please pray for God’s peace, protection, and provision in Ethiopia. Pray for our Ethiopian brothers and sisters to stand together against ethnic and religious violence.
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 a sense of continuity with the Early Church among Ethiopian Evangelicals, encourage Christian unity, and enrich ecumenical dialogue and cooperation. Check out Tekle’s monograph and book contributions here.
Prior to his studies, Tekle taught Theology and Church History at the Mekane Yesus Seminary in Addis Ababa, and worked for several Christian organizations, including Food for the Hungry, Tearfund, and World Vision. Tekle and his wife Nunu have a daughter, Beza (11), and a son, Leul (8).
Tekle shares the following message:
Many thanks for your prayers. I really appreciate it.
Last weekend, more than 650 innocent civilian farmers were brutally killed in Wollega, Oromia in western Ethiopia. It was an ethnic cleansing like what we have been witnessing for the last four years, following 30+ years of violence targeting the Amhara and Orthodox Christians. The most recent violence targeted Amhara Muslims in Wollega. We are still grieving and in shock over the ongoing massacre and brutality.
To my fellow Ethiopian Evangelical/Protestant leaders and believers: How on earth has the most “evangelized” Wollega area of Oromia turned out to be the bloody site of genocide of ethnic and religious others?
This is an existential question that must be reckoned with by each and every Evangelical believer, including those who hail from Wollega or elsewhere in and beyond Ethiopia, whether one is pastor, theologian, teacher, or not. Four years of deafening silence and indifference in the face of a brutal ongoing massacre is not the way out.
How can we claim credibly that God is both loving and just, confessing our faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and obeying His commandments to love God and neighbor? How can we respond to the Lord, who cares for the little ones made in His image and likeness, while ignoring those brutally massacred for nothing but their ethnic otherness, as if we are not related?
In the end, what will be our response when He says: I suffered massacre and ethnic cleansing, but you saw Me not. Were you a prophetic voice? Were you a vessel of love? Were you an instrument of violence and hate? Or, were you a shield of protection to the vulnerable and innocent?
There should be an honest soul-searching of our human and Christian consciousness, of what is preached and practiced in our sermons and sacraments, in our church life and mission – whether it mirrors exclusion or embrace. In short, do Ethiopian Protestants/Evangelicals contribute to human dignity and human flourishing or to violence, hate, and human rights abuses?
I share my poem of lamentation, Unhappy Exchange of a Sister for Pots of Flower, originally published in Eco-Instigator.
1. Please pray for Ethiopia as a nation that has been going through unceasing war for almost two years. Since some changes in government’s ruling party in the last four years, we have witnessed internal displacement, genocide, and ethnic and religious conflict and “cleansing” mainly sponsored by politicians.
The number of those who were killed in just one day last week is reported to be more than 650. The violence has been there for the last 30+ years, but what we have been witnessing in the last four years is on another level. The government is not willing to stop the killing. There is even some kind of cooperation and facilitation. No genocide occurs without the permission or collaboration of the government.
2. Pray for the spiritual and moral transformation of the nation. Due to war, only a few are thriving while the majority are languishing in abject poverty and uncertainty amid the economic crisis.
3. Pray for my studies as I am taking comprehensive exams on June 29 via Zoom and planning to defend my proposal in the fall.
4. Pray for my family, for wisdom toward spiritual nurture and growth. Pray for good schools for the kids and a job for my wife in her capacity as a professional counselor.
We are also praying for you.