by Joy Casey in Ethiopia
In an area of Ethiopia where Mission 1:27 is working, the recent uprising by the Oromo tribe germinated. This is a M*sl*m-dominated area and the M*sl*ms used the unrest and accompanying vandalism to target Christian churches and Christian-owned businesses. In one town, three churches were burned to the ground along with the police station. Then the mob turned to the stick and mud church that Mission 1:27 planted under the capable leadership of a former M*sli* named “K”.
For several months prior to the Oromo uprising, K and a handful of faithful men and women spent every Saturday together praying and fasting. God warned the group that a big storm was coming but that their church would not be hurt. When K heard about the destruction of the other churches, he grabbed his spear and stood at the gate of the church. The angry group approached him with spears and machetes but K knew what God had promised and courageously stood his ground. Then his nephew, who is a leader in the mosque, pushed through the crowd and planted his spear next to K. One by one K’s tribe (all M*sl*ms) joined him until the church was entirely surrounded with his relatives. The threatening mob dissipated with a vow to return and kill K and burn the church down. His relatives stayed in the church compound for many days giving the necessary protection. K was grateful for their solidarity with him but had no money to provide them with food.
Pastor Zerihun, the overseer of our evangelistic outreach, and Abebe, our country coordinator, heard about the situation and gave K money to feed his extended family who stood at his side in an extremely tense situation. As K relayed this story to me today, his whole face lit up with the joy of the Lord. He said many Christians advised him to leave the compound to save his life, but he had the word of God telling him to stand and he would not leave.
There are 50 dedicated family units associated with this new church plant. K disciples 15 leaders who are growing in their faith and are in turn teaching others. K and his disciples evangelize one-on-one as well as to family groups. They also spend time in the café area sharing Jesus with everyone. I am amazed at K’s boldness in this area that is known for its radical fundamentalism. Before we helped him establish a formal church, he was ordered to leave and never return by the town leaders, and the people who came to the Lord under his ministry were threatened. K refused to leave and instead made a way to secure property for a church, which was no easy task in this area.
The mosque leaders are telling their members to burn down K’s church and K has asked that we in America pray, pray, pray for ongoing protection. He is too busy to spend a lot of time worrying and implicitly trusts that God who began the good work, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns (Philippians 1:6).