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Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Death in Ethiopia.

Yesterday's reference to the famine in Ethiopia, in the mid-80s, in which many people died, leads me to share about a death that occurred, in that country, much more recently.  When I returned from our latest trip to France, the mail that awaited me included a regular update from Open Doors - one of the organisations that we support in its work amongst those disciples of Jesus who suffer great persecution because of their faith in Him.  This is just one such situation:

Lalisa Lergesa had only been married for six months when her husband was killed. A 30-year-old teacher, church planter, and pastor, Debela Mergesa was hacked to death by three Muslim extremists.

The church he had planted had grown into a strong, independent congregation.  Many villagers in the region had come to Christ. However, Debela's 'success' soon attracted opposition, and numerous death threats.

On 1 October 2012, Debela was going to the village.  Before he left his wife he told her, "We need to remain faithful in the face of threats against our faith."  A few hours later, he was dead - a martyr to his faith.

The suspects have been arrested but, for Lalisa, the pain and the grief are still obvious, and her psychological wounds are still raw.  "She is mourning, day and night." said her father-in-law. "I lost my son, but I am scared that I am also going to lose my daughter-in-law as a result of this grief.  Please pray for her."

Lalisa and her late husband were from a small town in Oromia, a region in western Ethiopia.  There was a time when this region had the second largest Christian population in the country, but a former regional state president resettled the area with thousands of Islamic families from eastern Ethiopia, resulting in the region becoming a Muslim-majority area.  It was the arrival of majority Islam that started the opposition that is experienced by Christian churches - especially those that are involved in outreach and evangelism.

These are the realities for so many disciples of Jesus in the world today.  If you would like to know more, and find out how you may best offer support, please use the links to some of the relevant organisations, that may be accessed by scrolling down this page, and clicking on one of the names in the right-hand-side column. 

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