Will you pray with me for Ethiopia?
Credit: Steve Bennetsen
In November 2020, fighting started in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region. The fallout has been death and a sea of people displaced from their homes. People wake up in the morning, regain their bearings and realise they’re not in their own beds. They’ve left family portraits hanging on the wall at home in the sitting room; they’ve left their backyard garden unwatered and their clothes on the washing line unattended.
An old man, who ought to be sitting in his favourite morning chair, is searching for a place to rest his head. He and his family are now in Mekelle town, looking for refuge and basic commodities. They camp out here and there, under the stars and in open spaces - 1,400 families cram themselves in the school grounds, struggling to explain to their confused children what’s going on and how they will get their next meal.
Thanks to generous donors, SIM has been able to distribute food and other essentials to 250 families in Mekelle, but this small scale felt mismatched with the need. The magnitude is completely different when staring down at some 78,000 displaced people in the city and a reported two million internally displaced people in the region. What would 30 kilograms of pasta, 5 litres of oil and a couple of mattresses per household do? But logistics and security in the region don’t allow much more. It’s frustrating that we can’t do more.
Then there’s the emotional toll: the sense of loss, of being overwhelmed, of feeling hopeless. What do you tell a teen living in Mekelle who says, “How will I protect my family?” What do you do when all these emotions start coming out in resentment, anger and desire for retaliation? How do you stop a growing sense of desperation pressing down and slowly percolating into rage? We’ve seen these kinds of things before. Grief between neighbouring communities begets anger, which in turn creates grief, and the cycle repeats, it seems. The road this kind of anger is on only leads to death and the grave. Rebuilding trust will take an act of God.
You’re not alone if you don’t know what to say. This isn’t a story of all the things we’ve done or any heroics as an organisation. It’s expressing how helpless we feel when faced with a tide of pain.
But, on a foundational level, our mission is not built on how much we can do, but on prayer. It's built on the immutable fact that there are things that are simply impossible for humans. We cannot fix the world. And there are times when the only thing we can do is to appeal to the mercies of a loving God and to remember again that it’s all in his hands. So …
God, we call out to You…
Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy.
If you find your tongue is nimble enough to speak, would you pray with us?
• For peace in the Tigray region.
• For people to trust in the Almighty God through these circumstances.
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