Seven years ago, we shared the tragic loss experienced by a family in Ethiopia and asked you to pray for them. Today, we share how God has been at work through your prayers in the life of Chaltu Waga.
Tulu Mosisa and Chaltu Waga had been married for more than two decades and had five children. Though they were often separated, their relationship and love remained strong.
Tulu and Chaltu both loved the Lord and were active in church ministry. Tulu was actively involved in evangelism and Chaltu worked in a variety of ways in her congregation. Financial needs forced Tulu to live far from his family for much of the year. Tulu worked as a farm laborer about 75 miles south of the capital, far from his family’s village northwest of Addis Ababa. Tulu always hoped the separation would be temporary, encouraging his children to hope in God and work hard on their education.
On March 2, 2008, however, Muslims angered by the local church’s evangelism efforts, stormed the church Tulu attended during a worship service. The attack left two Christians maimed and nearly two dozen other Christians injured. Tulu, the only victim killed, died instantly when one of the attackers struck him with a machete to the neck.
Chaltu’s brother-in-law broke the devastating news to Chaltu. “When I heard the news that Sunday, I cried aloud. I cannot remember much of what happened immediately after that.”
After the funeral, the initial shock faded into the stark reality of their loss. Although her spiritual family rallied to support to her, she wondered how she would provide for her family and fill Tulu’s shoes as spiritual leader of the home. “I cried a lot. Even before Tulu’s death, we were struggling to make a living. How were we to cope now? And I wondered what would happen to our children spiritually. I feared they would leave the Kingdom of God.” She struggled to believer visitors’ reassurances that God would bring help. “I was broken-hearted and weeping day and night,” Chaltu says about those days.
Open Doors visited the victims of the attack within a few days, but they didn’t know how to connect them with Chaltu and the children. A persistent field contact found the family and took an Open Doors worker to visit the remote community. After the 1.5 hour walk from the bus station in the nearest town, they arrived.
“I saw the two people from far away. One of them had a bag with something written in English on it. I did not understand the writing, but I had had a dream about visitors from far away carrying such a bag.” Chaltu greeted them with a loud “Hallelujah!” seeing immediately that this was the help the Lord had promised. “Thank you for coming. Thank you for visiting us,” she kept repeating.
Chaltu and the five children, sons Ketema (24), Bekele (20), Asefa (15) and Birhane (7) and daughter Getu (18) gathered to spend time with the visitors. Everyone sensed that the Lord had enabled this connection at exactly the right time and felt deeply humbled to witness this answer to prayer.
Chaltu was still in turmoil, seemingly broken and almost empty, yet she mustered all her strength to respond in faith. Open Doors (OD) asked supporters like you around the world to join in prayer for this family and these prayers were answered as slowly the healing began.
More comfort was ministered to Chaltu and the children when OD visited a few months later to deliver more letters from supporters around the world. It was tangible proof that many had been praying.
“As soon as I heard the voices of the letters, I became happy and rejoiced. Before the letters were read, in my mind my life was like a mountain. The road was closed. There was no path, no way. But when I heard the voices of the letters, the way was open. There was no mountain and I was not closed in anymore. That’s how I felt. The letters said, ‘We are all around you, like a building.’ I became very happy. The letters were like strong walls around me. I want to thank the brothers and sisters who wrote the letters to me. They were instruments of God. God used them to save me and encourage me. They are the way of God.”
The next answer to prayer came when the government of the West Arisi Zone in Oromia State promised to compensate victims of the Nensebo Chebi church attack in the form of farm land as well as land for constructing a house based on family size and capacity to build. For Chaltu, this compensation was a welcome relief and offered hope of a sustainable income.
Chaltu’s prayers for her children have also been answered. “I pleaded with God in all the challenges I experienced and He has answered me. One of my prayers has been for my children. Today they are ministering in the church and are strong spiritually.”
Chaltu’s second youngest son, Asefa, is a spirited evangelist who travels to spread the Word of God. He has forgiven his father’s killers and wishes to see them reconciled with Christ. “These people are not believers and they don’t know what they are doing. God says that we are the light of the world. So, when we approach them with good character and sit with them, we might bring them to Jesus.”
Asefa doesn’t understand fully why God allowed this suffering into their lives, but believes they would not have seen the depths of his grace without walking this difficult road. “If our father had not died, we wouldn’t have seen where we are now. We have seen what we never imagined. This amazes me.”
God’s work in the life of Chaltu and her children has also been an encouragement to many others. She recently attended an Open Doors seminar for women who have lost their husbands and was a huge blessing as she testified of God’s goodness and encouraged them to keep their eyes on the Lord. During those days she sang this hymn that she and Asefa wrote:
Oh Lord, who knows what we have passed through?
You brought me thus far, passing through all difficulties
My Father, truthful, the One I love
I will not forget what You have done for me
Be with me my Lord, You brought me thus far
You are my hope today and forever
You were with me in the wilderness
You are my Father even in the days of loneliness
I love you more, you are my Father
No holding back to praise you, my Lord!
My Lover in the wilderness, the One who helped me
You are more than anyone and helped me to be patient
You are my inheritance and I will praise Your name
I will never forget what You have done for me
I will be afraid of nothing while You are with me
My tomorrow is in Your hands.
My tears fill my eyes in remembrance of your love
You are my hope in time of suffering and difficulties
I cannot live without You
You foresaw glory and honor for me
I live in Your name to tell of Your glory
Father, we thank You for Tulu’s life and for the testimony of his faithfulness in supporting his family at great cost and in sharing the Good News of Your gospel with great zeal. We thank You that he is now in Your presence to praise You through all eternity. We continue to pray for Chaltu and her family, giving thanks for the many ways You have answered our prayers on their behalf. In the midst of their sorrow and need, You have sustained them and shown them the depth of Your mercy and provision. Continue to encourage and strengthen them, Father, and use them as instruments of Your grace to those around them who suffer loss as they have. In the Name of Jesus, the True Vine in whom we abide, Amen.