The Final Words of a Persecuted Believer to His Children: “Be Strong”

June 9, 2017 by Sarah Cunningham in ,

Open Doors often has the chance to get to know families in corners of the world that are only rarely traveled to. One of these places is western Ethiopia, where the mountains rise over the countryside as animals graze in clearings untouched by machines.

As beautiful as the landscape may be, however, many of the stories that unfold here are painful in contrast. And they too are often rarely heard.

Take the story of Buze and her children, for example. Their story is perhaps best told through the eyes of her son, Wasihun.

The Only Believers

Wasihun’s family was the only Christian family in their entire village. As a result, they faced constant threats and insults for not adopting the more commonly held beliefs in Animism. Wasihun’s father was so devoted to Christ that he abstained from local religious rituals aimed at pleasing other gods.

Community members grew so angry with Wasihun’s father’s faith in Christ that they sought to punish him.

Wasihun remembers the day their life was hijacked by tragedy as if it were yesterday. “On the day before the night my Dad was killed, it was raining. We worked the whole day and got home late. That night people came…and stabbed him.”

Wasihun was only 7 years-old when it happened.

The family had fallen asleep to the sound of seasonal rain falling on the roof, but they were woken abruptly when a mob broke in. “Stab him! Stab him!” The family remembers one of the attackers yelled amidst the chaos.

The attackers beat Wasihun’s father as Wasihun clung to his father’s legs trying to pull him away from them. Wasihun’s mother raced to find help, while Wasihun and his 15-year-old sister tried to cover a badly bleeding wound on their father’s neck.

A Father’s Final Words

Just before he died, Wasihun’s father told him, “Be strong. Look after your sisters and brothers.”

Sadly, there has been no legal justice for the murder of Wasihun’s father. However, God allowed Open Doors to cross paths with Wasihun’s family and help provide food and financial support.

Rather than give up on God after such a loss, Wasihun has since grown in his faith. “When [my father] died, we all gave up. We thought we had no hope.” He explains, “But the Lord added all we needed. He helped us survive through the storm and even made us lead a more financially stable life. We never had the clothes and shoes we have now. God provided for us. God is more than a Father to us.”

“We feel there will always be people who provoke us.” Wasihun’s sister adds, “But when our opponents bully us, we kneel down and pray to God to give us patience.”

Unfortunately, the story of Wasihun’s family is not a singular tragedy. Across Sub-Saharan Africa, violent persecution often results in murder. All too many Christian homes are robbed of their fathers, leaving their grieving families vulnerable.

Providing Help and Hope

Open Doors continues to support Wasihun and others like him by providing income-generating activities and trauma care through local partners.

In addition to these things, we invite supporters to pray for persecuted believers in Ethiopia and elsewhere. We ask readers to offer thanks to God for the provisions He makes for those caught in such trying circumstances. We also ask for prayers for protection, peace of mind, and continued comfort as surviving family members live in the midst of hostility.

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