From the desk of Steve Patton
Prayers For Our Brethren in Ethiopia
The University church has been involved in the Lord’s work in Ethiopia for over 20 years. We have had free course in the country, never fearing for our safety. Bob Owen, his son Scott, and I have combined to make annual trips. We spent most of our time bringing preachers and teachers together to instruct them in the Word. The growth of the work has been tremendous, growing from about 41 independent churches with about 2000 members, to 337 churches with about 18,500 Christians. It has been a joy to travel and work with these wonderful people. Our plans had been to continue this work for the foreseeable future.
Now things have changed. Below is an excerpt from a recent letter from our brother Zerihun Kebede, an evangelist in the capital city of Addis Ababa:
“The current peace and security situation of Ethiopia is not good. Political, social and economic instability and unrest are increasing from time to time in all parts of the country except Addis Ababa. Violence and turmoil caused, pertaining to many political, social, economic and other issues, damage to many people and property. Many immoral evil groups who are well armed and financially rich are working behind the curtain, trying to disturb and abort our bright reform and hope which is started since last year by very good prime minister and outstanding leadership.”
Zerihun refers to a significant change in national leadership. The people successfully elected a prime minister who is not a part of the old guard run by extremely corrupt leaders, many who were a part of the old socialist government associated with the former communist bloc. The people saw last year’s election as a turning point for their country. Now the former leaders, backed by foreign money, are creating havoc. The new regime is also facing the challenge of some of the larger tribes wanting their independence. The result has been outbreaks of violence and instability.
This summer has seen such outbreaks in areas where we usually travel and teach. (see page 3)
(continued from page 1) In the southern regional capital of Awassa, protests erupted into violence and some deaths. We usually teach close to 300 men in classes there. Travel is dangerous, not only for us, but for men who would be traveling to attend our classes.
To our knowledge, none of our brothers and sisters have been injured or killed in the violence. But the unrest continues.
Scott Owen planned to leave last week with Mark Nesmith of Thomasville, GA. I was taking the year off. Mark (father of our Carrie Moseley) has traveled to Ethiopia twice. The Thomasville church has been heavily involved in Ethiopia and presently supports around 50 preachers there. They have also supported me in my trips. No one is traveling to Ethiopia for now. The US State Department rates travel safety to other countries on a scale of 0 to 4, with 4 being the worst. Ethiopia is currently rated a 4.
Our Ethiopian family is in need of our fervent prayers. They are living under constant threat of injury and even death. The turmoil is interrupting food supplies and distribution of other necessities. But, at present, we are limited in what we can do. That is why we need to be petitioning our God on their behalf and for all Ethiopians as they go through these tumultuous times. Pray they may be safe, and that the Gospel may continue to have free course. Pray for the three good preachers we support: Markos, Demake, and Eremias. We will keep everyone updated as we learn more.