By Mike Tenbusch | July 24, 2020
Ethiopia has been in a battle of biblical proportions over the last few weeks. I’m writing you about it to ask that you keep our team, scholarship students and families close in your prayers.
Hachalu Hundessa, a much loved singer and civil rights activist, was assassinated on June 29. His music inspired and united the people of the Oromo region in Ethiopia, where he was from, and his death ignited clashes among different ethnic groups across Ethiopia.
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, also hails from the Oromos, but his wife is from a different ethnic group. He won the Nobel Peace Prize last year in part because he has refused to continue the long-standing destructive tradition of promoting his ethnic group while punishing all others. And now a militant faction within his group wants him gone, and the assassination of Hundessa provoked them to send thousands of armed men into different cities across the country and different communities across the capital, including where our students live, to create havoc. Close to 300 people were killed, and hundreds of cars and buildings were burned as local citizens rose up to rebuff the invaders.
While this was going on in the streets, the risk of a war with Egypt escalated over control of water leading into the Nile River. Ethiopia has been building a dam for nine years to divert some of the water from the Blue Nile to its people in much need of water of their own. How that will impact the people of Egypt along the Nile is unclear and a source of great concern to Egypt.
Due to the unrest, the Ethiopian government turned off access to the Internet and cellular communications for most of the last three weeks, leaving its citizens and the world out of touch. When the Internet was finally turned back on yesterday, Selam Terefe, the leader of our mission in Ethiopia, called to share the joyful news that peace has been restored in the streets, that water in the dam’s reservoir is rising for the first time ever as the rainy season starts, and the local municipality just approved International Samaritan’s permit to dig a 250 meter well to bring fresh water to the community in which we work!
I can’t tell you how relieved I was to get this news. But challenges continue for Abiy, for the nation, and for our hopes and work to build a well. These challenges have biblical proportions to me because both Ethiopia and Egypt appear in the very beginning of the Bible (Genesis 2:13 and 12:10, respectively) and also because the life source of water for millions is at stake. From a spiritual perspective, I believe that Abiy’s commitment to reconciliation and life is being challenged by forces inside of Ethiopia who would prefer retaliation and destruction. This is where we can help through prayer, and I hope that you will join me in praying for healing and peace in Ethiopia and for water to flow freely and abundantly throughout all of Africa.
Selam Terefe, kneeling third from left, with some of the parents at our community center in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia during a service immersion trip in March 2020.
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