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We thank God for you

The news of two factions within Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus [EECMY] reconciling early this year is good news indeed. It is but a foretaste of heaven when we finally gather to raise our voices in worship before the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

“Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof; for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.” [Revelation 5:9] “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard; even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments; As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life evermore. [Psalm 133, KJV]

And yet, we are not unmindful of the issue that precipitated the 14-year long trauma in the first place. That language use during worship should turn into an ecclesiastical tug-of-war is a sad testament to a shortsighted leadership. It is unfortunate that many people were hurt in the process and precious resources squandered. But is it all waste? We don’t believe so. First, what is wasted may well be that which could not withstand the refining fire. The Church of Christ is called to purity [as opposed to worldliness] and to periodic purging! Second, the Lord we worship is simply too big for challenges that his people face. Of His church Jesus had said “The gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” We recognize the Enemy is always lurking behind good or not-so-good intentions with the goal to “steal, and to kill, and to destroy”. It was power-sharing and such that put Mulu Wongel Church through years of agony. In the end, there cannot be excuses for human irresponsibility. Behind every church dissension stand individuals nursing a private agenda couched in spiritual lingo. Fortunately, there is safety from the ever-present onslaught from the disturber of peace and the “accuser of the brethren”. It is to be found in Jesus for “from the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another” and in the apostolic injunction that each should be “endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace”. Each is responsible for his or her action or inaction. There will come a time when we will all be giving an account of how we treated each other and reap the fruit of our deeds.

The irony of the EECMY case is that the current government’s ethnic and language policy was allowed to have a deleterious effect on a people redeemed by the Lamb and called out “of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation” and [nationalities]. Here is the price of taking eyes off the Lord, heeding the voice[s] and values of world systems and chaining oneself to the temporal. Adam and Eve wandered away and it did not take long before they discovered their nakedness. Only the mercies of God and the Blood shed on Calvary could undo such transgressions and heal deep wounds.

It is also interesting that persecution from the socialist policy of the previous government had the opposite effect on church fellowship. Churches were closed but believers' hearts were opened to each other in the bond of love. Christians understood or anticipated the cost of believing in Christ. When the “adversary the devil, like a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking who may devour” or “when the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him” [Isaiah 59:19-20] and his people likewise lifted up their eyes unto the hills, from whence came their help. It appears “freedom” poses a greater danger to faith than restrictions. We are thankful that the God we worship is not only God of the hills but also of the valleys, the gullies, and the plains.