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Pray for churches in Ethiopia

March 18, 2011 No Comment

by James Morgan 

Lutheran Church–Canada’s mission executive Rev. Dr. Leonardo Neitzel sent a letter of support to members of the Evangelical Ethiopian Mekane Yesus Church (EEMYC) in the aftermath of attacks and church burnings by Muslim extremists.

EEMYC President Rev. Dr. Wakseyoum Idosa

An earlier report from EEMYC President Rev. Dr. Wakseyoum Idosa said at least 41 churches and several evangelical mission stations and homes to mission congregations were burned down and that thousands of people were left homeless, beaten, or killed. Since that time, the number has risen to 57, twelve of which are EEMYC churches.

President Idosa recently travelled around the country, meeting church members and visiting places where violence and destruction had occurred. “In this place all members of different evangelical churches are gathered. We were told that there were over 3000, most of them are children and women. We saw church buildings destroyed, trees and a coffee plantation devastated,” President Idosa says about a visit to the small town of Akoo. The attacks against Christians are believed to stem from the alleged use of the Muslim Koran as toilet paper at a facility operated by another evangelical denomination.

“It is heartbreaking to know about the physical and material losses experienced by the church in your country as she faces persecution from the enemies of the Gospel and the cross of Jesus Christ,” states Dr. Neitzel’s letter. “We want to assure you of our prayers on your behalf as we spiritually join you in your suffering for the Gospel,” he continues, referring to examples in Christian history where the faith has been vigorously defended. These include Christ’s own suffering on the journey to Calvary, the torture of the Apostle Paul for confessing Jesus Christ, the exile and imprisonment of the Apostle John, and Martin Luther, defending his message of salvation even under the threat of death. The letter concludes with Ephesians 6:10-18, which Dr. Neitzel calls the Apostle Paul’s “inspiring spiritual battle anthem.”

Lutheran Church–Canada posted a prayer for Canadian congregations to use for the challenges the EEMYC is facing. “As our brothers and sisters suffer losses of life, freedom, and possession for the sake of Your Gospel, strengthen them in the confession of Your Son Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord,” the prayer states.

President Idosa notes that relief efforts are underway to help Christians whose homes have also been burned. Forty-five houses in total have been razed, four of which belonged to EEMYC members. The government has arrested and jailed many of the suspects, while the church has sent food and shelter supplies to displaced people.

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