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News / Thoughts

Ethiopia: School brings community together

July 6, 2020

In rural Ethiopia an Open Doors’ supported school is helping a small Christian community regain their place in society.

For many years this small community of believers have lived like outsiders in their own village. A local pastor named Sileshi* suggested building a school, believing it would bring the divided Christians and Muslim community together. Now, because of your support, the school is helping the church to be a valued contributor to the community. Christians are being treated with greater tolerance, children receive a good education and Christians are living out the Gospel in a practical way.

What was life like before the school was built?

Before the school was built, Christians in this area suffered terribly. They worshiped in fear and endured incessant verbal abuse from the Muslim community. The church was burnt down several times and many believers’ homes were destroyed as well. The pressure was intolerable.

In his village where 85% of the community is Muslim, Pastor Sileshi had no standing or influence. And when they heard of his plans, Muslim parents accused Sileshi of being a defector and using the school as a ploy to indoctrinate their children. “Your religion is not good. It is heresy. You want to expose our children to false teachings,” they said.

But after two years of continuous praying, Pastor Sileshi’s dream was finally realized. In 2018 the school was completed, and it now offers quality education to more than 180 students from different religious backgrounds. It is a place where children learn to embrace respect, kindness, joy, goodness, peace, patience, gentleness and self-control.

How is the school changing things?

And the school is bearing fruit and perceptions are changing. Mussa*, a Muslim father has enrolled his eldest daughter Meka at the school. “In the beginning, there were rumors that the school wanted to teach Christianity. But I wanted to know for myself. I hoped that they would do as they promised and serve the community. I have seen amazing results in Meka’s education. My wife and I are excited about this.”

At first his community objected to the school and was unhappy that his daughter attended. “My friends thought I had become Protestant because my daughter was in the school. But after a year, many of them now bring their children to learn here.”

Konjit, a Christian mother of three, has one daughter attending the school. “My daughter is making good progress, and she often shares her lessons with me. Now I am learning too.”

What is even more encouraging is how the children are breaking down the once harsh barriers between Christians and Muslims. “My daughter has Christian and Muslim friends. Sometimes the Muslim friends that live nearby even come to our home to drink some water.”

Konjit says she now feels free to worship out loud, that she is not afraid to sing even in the street. “In the past, I could not worship outside because I feared the Muslims. But now, I feel like I can do anything freely.”

Thank you!

Pastor Sileshi extends his gratitude to Open Doors’ supporters and everyone that prayed for the project.

“The message I want to share is that your money is put to good use. It brings result, many people have seen a change in their lives. It helps the church to shine the Gospel. May you continue doing the good work. We will continue to pray for you.”

Pray now…

  • Praise God for the success of this project. We are especially thankful for the peace and good relationships it has brought to a once divided community and that Christians feel they can worship now without fear.
  • Pray that the Lord will continue to protect the school, its headmaster and teachers. It is a wonderful blessing in the lives of the small Christian community, but also in the lives of the many Muslims in the community.
  • Pray for the Muslim community in this village, pray that they may come to know Jesus through the work the school does and that they will accept Him as their Saviour.

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Want to experience just some of what it’s like to be church as a secret community of believers? Get our new version of Secret Church to journey with hidden believers, seeing how they worship, learn from the Bible, pray and be community together. Plus, we’ve created the resource to work over a video chat – so it’s completely lockdown friendly!

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