Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Ethiopian Christians send call for help; international body responds

Ethiopia-Voice of the Martyrs' Canada reports that on October 16, a Muslim attack on 25 Christian families in Seka Yoyo--a town just southwest of Ethiopia's capital--demolished a dozen houses.The families were forced to flee to the nearby city of Jimma where several incidents of violence have occurred in recent months, leaving at least six Christians dead. Approximately 98% of the population is Muslim.Voice of the Martyrs' Todd Nettleton says this is one incident among others that led to the passage of the "Ethiopia Democracy and Accountability Act of 2007" in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill, which is now in the Senate for a vote, is aimed at encouraging and facilitating the consolidation of peace and security, respect for human rights, democracy, and economic freedom in Ethiopia."The more you have freedom in a country, that's also going to filter into the area of religious freedom," explains Nettleton. That also extends to "freedom for our Christian brothers and sisters there. So in that sense, it is tied in just as freedoms are tied together, but it doesn't seem to directly play into the idea of religious freedom."However, while the bill is aimed at improving conditions, the former U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia Vickie Huddleston is quoted as suggesting that the bill would aggravate present conditions by "weakening" the Ethiopian government.Opponents feel it focuses only on the country's shortcomings while ignoring the progress the country has made in these areas. Others protest that such legislation should be aimed at countries notably less open to religious diversity and freedoms, like neighboring Eritrea.Meanwhile, there have been increasing reports of the clamping down on religious freedom in Ethiopia. Nettleton says that only serves as a backdrop to growth. "One of the exciting things that is happening is a renewal movement in the Orthodox church, a real return to a Scriptural understanding of Christianity and what it means to be a believer. There is also an effective evangelism going on amongst Muslims in Ethiopia."Thank the Lord that no Christians were killed or seriously harmed in the Seka Yoyo attack. Ask God to continue to protect these believers and others. Pray that they will set Christ apart as Lord and not give in to fear.
As in the days of Noah....

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