More than 400 displaced Christians fleeing from their burned-out homes and churches in rural towns of Ethiopia’s Muslim-dominated Jimma Zone region in Ethiopia have been welcomed with open arms and tears by fellow believers as they arrived in Jimma Town.
Exhausted and traumatized, many of the mothers with children in their arms had walked more than five hours. “Thank God we are here,” one of the mothers holding her baby said. “They burnt all our churches. I don’t know what happened with my house,” she admitted. “I just locked it and left behind everything.” An Open Doors co-worker at the scene said that Christians in Jimma Town waiting to welcome the arriving believers broke into tears. “It was so heart-touching to see the love and family spirit among believers, crossing all denominational lines to help each other,” the co-worker said. “The youth helped carry bags from the hands of exhausted believers along the roads, while others arranged a place to rest.”
But many more refugees are in need of assistance; by March 9, Protestant church leaders had confirmed that more than 3,000 Christians have been displaced by the attacks. One church coordinator said at least 2,500 believers were huddled in a place called Ako without any food, shelter or medications. “It is a sad day. None of them have blankets, mattresses, shelter, and there is no food,” the church leader told an Open Doors co-worker. “Everybody needs food and shelter. We are doing what we can, but the believers in Jimma are stretched to the limit.”
The initial attacks began when a rumor was spread in Asendabo town on March 2 that Christians had desecrated the Quran by tearing out pages and using them for toilet paper. At around 2:00pm a mob formed and set ablaze three churches in the center of town. Church leaders estimated the mob to be more than 15,000. Then Christian homes were attacked, with at least six houses demolished that day. The next day Muslims continued to attack more churches in town; but it was just the beginning of a full-scale attack on churches in the surrounding district. By March 7, a total of 49 churches and 28 homes had been destroyed. “The overall situation is so dire and churches are in need of all possible support. Churches have stretched all their resources. The immensity of the need is beyond their reach,” the Open Doors co-worker said.
Fortunately there are no reports of new attacks, and reportedly the government has deployed Federal police and military to calm the situation down. At the time of print Open Doors co-workers are in the area to provide much needed relief to Christians in the area.
Father, last week we prayed for a ceasing of the attacks against Christian in Jimma Zone, as well as protection over their homes and churches… Thank you for calming the situation and providing comfort and relief for many of Your flock. There however are many more who are displaced and are in need of food, shelter and water; Father we ask that you abundantly provide for them as well ,both physically and spiritually, teaching them from Your word to “forgive whatever grievance you may have against one another” (Col 3:13). Strengthen also the church leaders so they model Your wisdom to those in need of comfort and peace. And today we also join in prayer for their Muslim neighbors, that through this tragedy their eyes will be opened to the truth and grace found only in our Lord and saviour Jesus. Amen
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Additional Prayer Alerts
As the nightmare of one of the worst disasters in Japanese history continues to grow in scope by the hour, Open Doors USA President/CEO Dr. Carl Moeller is calling on Christians in the West to reach out in prayer for the physical and spiritual welfare of the Japanese.
Dawit wants to thank prayer supporters for the input in their lives. “We are not alone; I was always aware of the spiritual encouragement our extended family in Christ.” Shita adds, “God has intervened and has provided Christians friends. We now experience abundant peace and joy and praise God for our spiritual family.”