Ethiopian Christians vs. a Religion of Piece

The Chapel of the Tablet at the Church of Our ...
The Chapel of the Tablet, Axum, Ethiopia

From Energy Publisher, of all places:

According to a news release from International Christian Concern (ICC) , Christians in the Ethiopian city of Besheno are being harassed and physically abused after Muslims posted notices on the doors of Christian homes warning them to convert, leave the city or face death.

Three Christian leaders were forced to flee while two Christians have been forced to convert to Islam, said the ICC report. In the Muslim majority city, the entire evangelical Christian community consists of about 30 believers.

The ICC says that Evangelist Kassa Awano remains in critical condition after Muslims attacked him on November 29, 2010. A few days after the attack, nearly 100 Muslims surrounded a vehicle carrying Christian leaders on their way to negotiate for peace with Muslim leaders. Two men, Tesema Hirego and Niggusie Denano, were seriously wounded, and the other leaders suffered minor injuries. On January 2, Muslims assaulted Temesgen Peteros with a knife after he testified about the attacks on these Christians in court.

Christians in Besheno have been targeted by Muslims for many years. On May 21, 2004, Muslims murdered the 7 year-old daughter of Evangelist Tesfaye Hobe. Muslims continuously attack Christians for listening to Christian songs and watching Christian videos.

“We ask for our constitutional right [to freedom of religion] to be respected. We want this inhumane act to stop. We are unable to live in our own city due to the inhumane acts,” one of the Christian leaders who fled the city told ICC.

Here’s the scary thing:  Ethiopia has a Christian majority, with only about a third of its population being Muslim.  And yet Christians are under this kind of serious persecution in heavily Muslim areas.

Ethiopia is also important prophetically.  Isaiah 18 speaks of the day that Ethiopia will deliver a royal gift to the God of Israel.  There are those, this author included, who think it very likely that this gift may well be the Ark of the Covenant itself.  The Smithsonian ran an article detailing this belief a few years ago, which included this interesting tidbit:

“We’ve had 1,000 years of Judaism, followed by 2,000 years of Christianity, and that’s why our religion is rooted in the Old Testament,” [Abuna Paulos, patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church] told me. “We follow the same dietary laws as Judaism, as set out in Leviticus,” meaning that his followers keep kosher, even though they are Christians. “Parents circumcise their baby boys as a religious duty, we often give Old Testament names to our boys and many villagers in the countryside still hold Saturday sacred as the Sabbath.”

Is this tradition linked to the church’s claim to hold the ark, which Ethiopians call Tabota Seyen, or the Ark of Zion? “It’s no claim, it’s the truth,” Paulos answered.

Ethiopia still has a small population of Jews, called the Beta Israel, but most made Aliyah in the 80s and 90s in what became known as Operation Moses and Operation Solomon.  While the Beta Israel did face persecutions and forced conversions, they nevertheless flourished in Ethiopia as a semi-autonomous people for much of its history and were never wholly driven out as the Jews in Europe were repeatedly throughout the Christian era.

One of the nations that will join Gog in the Ezekiel 38-39 war is Cush, which can mean Ethiopia, but could also refer to Sudan or even in a very general sense to all of sub-Saharan Africa.  This would imply that either Ethiopia will become caught up in Gog/Antichrist’s empire, either through a Muslim takeover or a Christian apostasy–or perhaps that it will become an island of Christendom in a sea of darkness.

Either way, the Christians of Ethiopia are already under siege, and as with all of our Sunday-brethren who face persecution around the world, deserve our prayer and support.

Shalom.

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