Ongoing conflict cuts off congregations

“MKC has been trying to help MKC members who were seriously affected in parts of Ethiopia that are not currently under the Tigray People’s Liberation Front,” says Desalegn Abebe, president of the Mennonite church in Ethiopia, Meserete Kristos Church (MKC).

In November 2020, fighting broke out between Ethiopian government forces and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front. Although a 28 June 2021 ceasefire halted overt fighting, in October 2021, the UN General Secretary is warning of a humanitarian crisis, with some 400 000 people living in famine-like conditions.

21 church gatherings affected

Six local MKC congregations and 15 church planting centres in the region have been affected: members displaced, buildings burned, all disoriented by the conflict.

“When the communication network was working, we were informed that a church worker at Wukro MKC died in the conflict,” says Desalegn Abebe. Now, he says, there is no direct way to hear about the conditions for believers in Tigray.

MKC Relief and Development Association has carried out relief activities in northern Ethiopia but has not been able to access the Tigray state.

A team of MKC  leaders visited the northwest region of Ethiopia in early June to encourage believers, bring aid from Evangelium Mission and carry out leadership training.

“People moved from place to place carrying guns even in public transport,” says Abayneh Anjulo, MKC evangelism and church planting director. “We trusted in the Lord and visited our brothers and sisters.”

These regions currently affected by violence are strategic for spreading the gospel and planting churches in neighbouring Sudan.

“I was moved to see these faithful believers who joyfully worship and serve Christ [despite persecution],” says Desalegn Abebe.

Prayers for peace

MKC participates in a peacebuilding initiative that gathers leaders from other Christian traditions in Ethiopia for a unified response to violence within the country.

“MKC does not support or oppose any political parties or warring factions,” says Desalegn Abebe. “The church preaches and teaches peace, encourages church leaders to mobilize members to engage in fervent prayers for peace, supports members in conflict zones by sharing their resources and undertakes peacebuilding activities in conflict zones particularly in Metekel zone of Benishangul Gumuz regional state.”

“Pray for MKC to continue engage in peacebuilding activities, pray for the church to get resources to share with the most affected people in conflict areas and undertake more peace activities in conflict areas,” he says.