Hope To Live Again
Wasihun’s family, living in a remote part of Ethiopia, used to be the only Christian family in their entire village. They constantly faced insults and threats for refusing to return to their traditional religion. His father Motuma, always tried to lovingly explain to the other villagers that his family could not participate in their rituals, but they never understood. Eventually they killed him. (For more background, please visit this previously released story.)
Since 2013 when Motuma was killed, Open Doors have been walking closely with and supporting the family. We recently caught up with them again during a return visit to their village. A few days later, Wasihun and his sister Bachu, attended an Open Doors sponsored youth event where they met with other children and young people who have experienced the pain of persecution; to have fun, to laugh, study the Bible and to journey together the path towards healing.
After we finished our freshly roasted coffee (prepared right in front of our eyes over a small fire!) we listened to the stories the family wanted to share with us. First we chatted with Buze, Wasihun’s mother.
“Your ministry came to my home and visited me. They asked me what my problem was, how they could support me and they saw everything – my kids, my house, my problems. They told me to hold on and be strong for my children and that they would be here for us. They told me not to give up. They said I am no longer alone. That gave me hope to live again! [Open Doors] told the local church what had happened to me so that they could help me. With the money […] I bought sheep and cattle to make a living for my family.”
What is your favorite thing to do when you are not in school?
“I usually tend to the cattle. We take turns with our mother, she takes care of the cattle when we go to school and we do that when we are [at home].”
Don’t you like to play?
“I do play, I love playing soccer!”
Tell me about your father?
“My father used to sell firewood to take care of us, his family. I used to go with him into the bush to collect firewood, to help him carry as much as we could. I used to peel the bark and tie it together. He did whatever he could to support us and I feel bad, now that he is gone.”
“Now, we do our chores and also take care of the cattle. We reap and collect grass for the cattle. We bring the cattle from the fields and after that we will go to the river to fetch water, and then go back to spend the day by the river.”
What do you hope for the future?
“We are concentrating on God and we are working for his kingdom.”
Video interview with Wasihun:
Why was your father killed?
“They killed my father because he was a believer. They wanted him to follow traditional rituals like them, drink like them and behave like them but he refused. He was a very good person. He loved the Gospel. He loved God a lot! After his death, I gave up on life.”
What do you want for your future?
“After my father passed away we have been getting help. The Lord remembered us and he has been providing. Our lives have changed massively after the support [from Open Doors]. I want to serve this God, who has helped me through the desert, through my trials. I would serve him at any cost. I would leave everything for a chance to preach his love. I would like to go to school and train to be a preacher. I would like to testify about everything he has done in my life, how amazing his love and care was. It will be all I preach about!”
Two days after our visit to their home, Wasihun and Bachu attended an encouragement event, organised by Open Doors, for children and youth impacted by persecution in Ethiopia.
International visitors were part of the program, helping to connect the global body of Christ. An Open Doors youth worker involved in the program, anonymous for security reasons explained,
“Children and youth experiencing persecution can be greatly encouraged to remain faithful when they know they are not the only ones experiencing difficulties. For some of them this program was also simply an opportunity to leave their daily stressful circumstances for a short time of rest and fun. Through fellowship with others, playing games and learning from the Bible, they had the opportunity to be instruments of the Lord’s healing and encouragement to one another.”
Angelica, a participant from Australia said, “After this trip my first response is to say I will pray for these young people and ask others to pray for them—specifically that they would be strengthened, know that they are not alone, that God is with them, and that they will have a church praying for them. Prayer is the most important thing we can do for them. I have learnt that here. And to see the way that they pray when they have nothing and when they have gone through so much, when prayer is their only way to move forward!”
Open Doors has helped purchase food and pay the children’s school fees. We have supported Buze with income-generating activities and provided access to trauma relief through our widow-care program. Open Doors staff have visited the family and we ran a letter writing campaign to encourage them.