Ethiopia is a country located in the Horn of Africa. We’re unique in some ways but the same with the rest of African countries in some other ways. We’re a very poor country with a population of around 110 million.
Living in a country where problems are like the air you breathe – it’s not easy; especially when you have access to go out of the country and declare your freedom. But staying and living among my people – it’s a bittersweet reality, but that’s who I am. That’s where I can find purpose in my life.
Drama of trouble
This last year, 2022* it was a very joyful, and the same time, a very sad time personally and as a nation.
Our country is passing through a lot. We were happy at some point last year that the conflict in the north was over, but unfortunately, another one started in the western part of the country.
Let’s talk about our economy. It started to deteriorate – as you also faced – during COVID-19, but it continues to go down due to the non-stop conflict in the country.
Unfortunately, the conflict also is followed by tribalism, which has become a chronic problem. It has become a challenge for us to live together; this intolerance of difference has started to dismantle our very fabric of society.
This also leads the country into another wave of economic and political disaster. It’s going from bad to worse. Food inflation is skyrocketing and makes so many people struggle.
Droughts also hit the southeastern part of our country where now, it gets really worse such that people start to die due to hunger.
The religious conflict between the Orthodox and the evangelicals, or the Protestants along with the Muslims, is another character in the cast of this drama of trouble.
So, the life we’re living in our country is very difficult to live.
Such a situation is really challenging our churches, our societies, our congregations, our friends and our society in large, but we’re living.
We don’t know how, but we’re able to live everyday as a nation. We’re supposed to have collapsed, but we’re going. Of course, not in the standards of the West, but we’re moving.
If I have to give you an explanation, I just don’t have it.
All the political social economic explanation and analysis would indicate that we should collapse. We should be ‘the new Syria.’
For some, living everyday is just a miracle. Waking up in the morning, for some, is really a miracle.
But we’re living. How?
An answer in God
As a Christian, I have an explanation. I believe that God is our strength. God is the creator of us, our Saviour who never gets tired or weary with our poverty or our conflicts.
I know so many people get tired. Even for me, I get tired asking of people to pray for our country month after month, year after year, about this or that: pray for the conflict in Ethiopia; pray about the poverty levels. It gets tiring for so many people across the globe to hear that we keep on “begging.”
But I believe in the Creator of us, our Saviour, who never gets tired, who never gets weary of our problems.
God gave power to the weak, provides for the needy, and gives us strength to move and the ability to see tomorrow. We don’t know how, but God does it. Jesus is our hope.
I found one definition of “hope” on the internet. It says: “Hold On; Pain Ends.”
So God is our hope. Hope that makes us to hold until the pain goes away or that enables us to endure it.
I’m able to pass it through. I’m able to pass it through and through and through, with all this personal and nation crisis, in fellowship with my fellow brothers and sisters.
We pray together every day. Starting early in the morning from 5:00 to 6:30 am. We might sound really pious, but we simply pray and ask God for strength, for power, for more grace to live every day.
We gather together to share our personal burdens and also our country’s cry. We encourage each other with the hope that we receive from Christ who himself is our hope.
So, brothers and sisters, as we celebrate our history and foundation as an Anabaptist movement, we turn to the same source as our persecuted forefathers and foremothers: that’s Jesus Christ. He is the only hope to hope for – with or without pain.
—Tigist Tesfaye is a youth mentor and coach, a member of Debub Meserete Kristos Church in Ethiopia, and author of Mewetacha (The ladder – a dream connector). She is secretary of the Deacons Commission.
Tigist Tesfaye spoke at Renewal 2023 – Jesus Christ, our hope – in Abbotsford, B.C., Canada, 25 March 2023 (presented via video). This article has been adapted from her presentation.
* This refers to the Gregorian calendar system. In Ethiopia, we use the official calendar of the Orthodox Tewahido Church which has 13 months and has a different starting point that puts it seven or eight years behind the Gregorian calendar.