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Ethiopia: God uses coffee to change Belen's life
22 September 2015
If you're not a morning person, you may have joked about needing coffee to 'bring you back to life' - but for Belen, an Ethiopian Christian, God has used coffee to bring real transformation. When Belen's husband rejected her because of her faith, she was able to open a coffee shop to support her family, thanks to the prayers and gifts of Open Doors supporters. "God has changed my story," says Belen.
Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee, and coffee ceremonies form an integral part of the Ethiopian culture. If an Ethiopian wants to welcome anyone to their community, they prepare a coffee ceremony. They usually spread palm leaves on the floor, roast some coffee beans in the presence of the guest, grind the coffee, and then proceed to brew it in a clay pot - the strongest coffee you're likely to taste in a long time!
It's this obsession with coffee that has given Belen the opportunity to provide for her young family through her coffee shop; she has three sons, Dawit (8), Solomon (6), and Ataklti (4). "If I did not have my own business, we would have had nothing to eat," she says.
Before Belen met Jesus, she says: "My life was in ruins. I struggled with bad dreams and many other things tormented me."
When a Christian friend heard about Belen's struggles, he prayed with her. "That night I slept for the first time in seven months. Who would believe that a ten minute prayer would break my heavy yoke?"
Belen decided to follow Jesus and received discipleship. "My lifestyle changed completely," she says.
However, Belen has counted the cost of following Jesus. Her husband has left her and her family has rejected her. Her elder brother has punished her by persuading the government to deny her claim to land she had inherited from her father, and accusing her of stealing money he had sent to provide for the care of their elderly parents. Although Belen had administered the money on behalf of her parents and did not steal it, the court ordered Belen to repay it - her father has since passed away and her mother is too frail to vouch for her.
Belen's ex-husband is not paying child support, which adds to her financial hardship, but Belen doesn't want to take him to court. "He is their father, they are his children. If he feels the need to do something, let him do so. But I will never sue him. I would rather leave everything to the Lord and do what I can to raise my kids."
Belen's ex-husband has since fathered a child with another woman.
"You are losing in all directions," her brother has told her. "I suggest you repent and return to your original faith. You should have agreed to do so long ago."
But Belen refuses to deny her faith in Jesus. She says: "Jesus may appear slow in responding to my plight, but He is working quietly but surely."
'I was able to pay my debt'
Thanks to the prayers and generosity of Open Doors supporters, we have been able to provide Belen with legal counsel in regards to her land and the repayments of the money to her brother.
Belen says: "Your ministry has helped me significantly. Through your support, I was able to pay my debt which I borrowed for medication. I would have been in prison and my children would have wandered in the streets if you haven't reached out to me."
We have also helped her to create her coffee shop. She has started the business from scratch, furnishing the coffee shop and providing all stock and equipment. In order to draw more customers she has also bought a television so her customers can watch the news. The coffee shop has proven popular - when one Open Doors staff member went to visit, she says: "The coffee shop was so full that we needed to stand around a few minutes before we could find a seat!"
'The hands of God are with me'
Belen is happy that her children are going to school, and have not been forced to beg on the streets. Dawit, her eldest son, says: "I am excited that I can learn and I thank God that He is keeping my mother and all of us safe."
Belen says: "The hands of God are with me. I am tested, and people hate me and tell me to leave Jesus, but that will not happen because I have seen His mercy. Sometimes, I wonder why I did not come to know Jesus a little earlier so that I could have avoided some suffering. But, if He uses my suffering for His glory and for my spiritual wellbeing, let it be so."
One thing remains heavy on Belen's heart: her marriage. She says, "I love him, he is the father of my children, and he is part of my life." She desires for their relationship to be restored. "I trust God with that too. And if he chooses not to restore it, I know that God is good all the time. The Spirit of God keeps comforting me with the words of Matthew 10:39: 'Whoever loses his life for my sake will find it'. I have decided to let the will of God and not my own rule over my life. Please pray for me."
- Praise God for saving Belen and for the strength she has shown in enduring persecution
- Thank God for using Open Doors to help Belen to provide for her family
- For Belen's husband to open his heart to Jesus and return to his wife and children
- For God's favour and protection over Belen as her brother persists in his false accusations against her.
More News from Ethiopia:
- Freed Christians no longer need to pay compensation
- New law threatens church freedom
- Widow and son lose almost everything; Freed prisoners say 'Thank you'
- Three men falsely accused of arson have been freed!
- UPDATE - Prisoners' hearing due TOMORROW
Find out more about persecution in Ethiopia.