|With all the news reports about the war in Syria, it is easy for unrest in other parts of the world to be overlooked. Many of us may be unaware that there has recently been unrest on a large scale in Ethiopia.
Frew Tamrat, Langham Partnership’s Preaching Coordinator for Ethiopia reported last month:
“Political unrest all over the country, with clashes between political protestors and government forces, is making it difficult and dangerous to hold Preaching training seminars”.
Political protests have been taking place for almost a year, centring on discontent among different ethnic groups in the country. Reasons for the unrest include farmers being displaced, certain communities opposing inclusion in different parts of the country and Muslims being unhappy about government-approved leaders. The BBC recently reported that what is happening is an accumulation of years of frustration from ethnic groups who say they have been marginalised by the government. Two people groups, the Amhara and Oromo, have joined in opposition to the ruling authorities, adopting the same protest symbol: arms raised and wrists crossed as if in chains. An Ethiopian Olympian famously made the gesture when he crossed the line in the Games in Rio 2016, an image that sent shockwaves across the world.
55 people were killed at a religious festival in the Oromia region on 2 October. Opposition activists said that the deaths were caused by police creating panic, while the Government is blaming ‘anti-peace’ groups protesting in the crowd. Human rights groups report that at least 500 people have died during the protests overall.
A state of emergency to last for six months has now been declared. Some of the things restricted under the state of emergency include social media, broadcast media, protests, political gestures, freedom of movement and guns.
Former BBC Ethiopia correspondent Elizabeth Blunt says that political protests in Ethiopia are a major challenge to the country’s ‘secretive government’. Concerns have been raised about the arrests of journalists in the country, as freedom of speech appears to be under threat.
So how can we respond? Pray!
Frew Tamrat, Langham Preaching’s Coordinator for Ethiopia says: “Pray for the peace and stability of Ethiopia so that the gospel can be preached peacefully and church leaders equipped for the work of God’s Kingdom.” We are commanded to pray for leaders in 1 Timothy 2: “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.”
Please stand with the Christians in Ethiopia at this time of uncertainty, in the knowledge that only the Gospel of peace can bring real hope. Please pray for vital preaching training to continue, bringing light in a dark situation.
Langham Scholar Anwar Mehammed Berhe, who is studying at Melbourne School of Theology, will be travelling with his family back to Ethiopia (his home country) in late January, to do research for his PhD studies. Pray for safety and that all will go smoothly for him and his family. Please also pray that he will experience a complete healing from a chronic health condition.
[This article is taken largely from one written by Victoria Hawkins, Digital Content Producer for Langham Partnership UK & Ireland.]