It’s been eight years of grief, struggle and setbacks for Abebu in Ethiopia. In 2013, her husband, Reta, was shot dead for his faith. Since then, she has been responsible for providing for her eight children. But today, she and her family are thriving, and it’s thanks to your incredible support. That’s not the only good news, as the family recently discovered a remarkable answer to their prayers…
Reta was on his way home from church when he was shot dead in broad daylight. He had recently become a Protestant, much to the anger of the orthodox faith community he grew up in (the Ethiopian Orthodox Church is sadly instrumental in persecuting other Christian denominations) – including an influential figure who threatened Reta, telling him to recant his faith or face the consequences. Reta refused and paid with his life.
That was in 2013, when he and his wife Abebu were expecting their eighth child. Since that day, Abeba has not only had to deal with overwhelming grief, she’s also faced a relentless battle to provide for her family, whilst facing threats from the influential figure who murdered her husband even as he was locked up in prison.
Their difficulties were compounded by ostracism from their local community – and it’s not just because of their new faith. According to Ethiopian culture, Reta’s children are considered ‘children of the late man’, signaling that they have no father to care for or protect them. Their mother is considered the cause of the ‘bad luck’ to her husband. She is a woman ‘without a shield’ and her children will be treated differently as they are ‘raised by a woman’ and any bad behaviour will be blamed on this.
During this time, you’ve supported Abebu and her family in various ways, including the provision of clothing and shoes, trauma care and financial help for Abebu to start her own business. When Abebu developed an eye disease that caused blindness, giving the family another setback to deal with, you provided medical care to restore some of Abebu’s sight, enabling her to return to work.
“If I had not received your financial help, my children could have died of starvation.” Abebu
But sadly, Covid-19 proved a challenge too far. “Now we have finished all the money we had earned, and we can’t do anything else but stay at home,” she shared last year. The children, who would normally eat and sleep at their boarding school, were all back home, and it was difficult for Abebu to feed everyone. Her church weren’t able to help either, as services stopped which brought a halt to tithes.
Again, you came to the family’s aid, providing money for them to buy food. “I was scared,” Abebu shares. “If I had not received your financial help, my children could have died of starvation.”
Now, more than a year since the pandemic started, Abebu is back on her feet and working harder than ever. The schools have reopened and all her children, except for her youngest, have returned. Because of your generosity, Abebu and her children have been able to weather the Covid-19 storm.
Recently, Open Doors local partners paid her a visit. Upon entering her compound, they were met by a flurry of activity. Chickens were scurrying about, waiting for Abebu to feed them, while the children were busy with chores or playing.
With your support and encouragement, Abebu has grown into an avid farmer and entrepreneur. To ensure an immediate income, she has taken out a loan and bought food in bulk to sell at the market. She’s also bought chicks and lambs which she’s rearing to sell once they are big enough, and growing eucalyptus tree seedlings to sell.
The family’s faith remains strong. “My spiritual life is good,” Abebu shares. “We are worshipping and praising God together. My children are well and healthy. They are pursuing their education.”
In a remarkable answer to prayer, her husband’s murderer – who was given an eight-year sentence for the crime – has given his life to Jesus! Abebu learnt of this news when the man was released from prison and requested to join her church.
“We have no revenge. We have no resentment.” Abebu
Amazingly, Abebu has forgiven him, saying, “We have no revenge. We have no resentment.” Yet she does not think it’s in the best interest of her children to face the man and his family every Sunday. She asked her church elders to find him another church, and they have respected her request.
Abebu has a final word for Open Doors supporters: “To my family who has supported me, who prayed to God on our behalf: we would not be here and would not have anything without you. May God bless those who are concerned for us and assist them.”
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