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Church members slain in Ethiopia

The United Methodist Committee on Relief announced it is giving a $10,000 grant to help provide food and address other immediate needs for people affected by civil unrest in the Gambella Region of western Ethiopia. Map courtesy of Google Maps.
The United Methodist Committee on Relief announced it is giving a $10,000 grant to help provide food and address other immediate needs for people affected by civil unrest in the Gambella Region of western Ethiopia. Map courtesy of Google Maps.

A $10,000 grant from the United Methodist Committee on Relief was announced July 11 after 37 people, including some United Methodists, were killed during an attack in Gambella in western Ethiopia.

Your gifts on UMCOR Sunday helps support the foundation for the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) to share God’s love with communities everywhere.

The clash between separatists and government forces in June lasted for three days. At least three of the deceased were members of Ethiopia United Methodist Church.

The UMCOR grant will provide food and hygiene kits and address other immediate needs of people affected by the civil unrest. Late in 2021, the Ethiopia United Methodist Church received an UMCOR grant to address flooding. Plans are also underway for a larger-scale relief project there.

The Rev. Obang Olamo, senior pastor at Ethiopia United Methodist Church in Gambella, shares a sermon during Sunday worship service. A clash between separatists and government forces in western Ethiopia in June left 37 dead, including at least three members of Ethiopia United Methodist Church. Photo by Gad Maiga, UM News. 
The Rev. Obang Olamo, senior pastor at Ethiopia United Methodist Church in Gambella, shares a sermon during Sunday worship service. A clash between separatists and government forces in western Ethiopia in June left 37 dead, including at least three members of Ethiopia United Methodist Church. Photo by Gad Maiga, UM News.

During the fourth session of the Kenya-Ethiopia Annual Conference held in Nairobi March 10-13, Ethiopia became a district, having been a mission area for a few years under the conference. Currently, the church in Ethiopia has five mission areas: Jimma, Nekemty, Awassa, Addis Ababa and Gudare.

The Rev. Gezu Mossissa, Ethiopia District superintendent, said the church needs to show agility as it seeks stability.

After visiting the bereaved church families and the hospitalized survivors of the vicious attack, Mossissa said that children were among the casualties.

Mossissa urged Christians in Gambella to be determined and ready to take an active part in the needs of the people around them.

The Rev. Obang Olamo, senior pastor at Ethiopia United Methodist Church, said the attack forced thousands of people to run for their lives and seek refuge in bushes, church compounds and public buildings.

The Gambella Liberation Front/Army and the Oromo Liberation Army had earlier declared that they were undertaking a coordinated offensive on the Gambella region's capital city, as verified by the regional state's announcement. The OLA also said its fighters were battling with government forces in two towns in western Oromia: Dembidolo and Gimbi.

The attack preceded a Gambella regional state’s security council meeting held on June 6 that gave priority focus to “illegal and lawless” forces operating in the region. The security council also agreed that the development of the Gambella region will not continue unless these shortcomings, both in urban and rural areas, were addressed in a short period of time.

Describing the current state of the city, Olamo said, “People have been released from church and school compounds but the situation is still very tense.” Olamo said the critical problem is that people are suffering from hunger and distress due to the loss of property through destruction and vandalism.

“Communities in Gambella need food support, as many children and the elderly have become very weak after spending days without food,” Olamo said.

Mossissa said humanitarian aid is needed to “cushion our church members against the impact of the war.”

“We believe that in crisis, God glorifies himself and uses the church to do it,” he said. “The tension in our cities is real; you can feel it in this frozen air.

“Should there be more chaos and confusion, the United Methodist churches could be lighthouses of hope and security in their communities.”

"The Gospel will provide relief, hope and healing to broken, fallen and terrified cities in Ethiopia," Mossissa said. "We have God's power to achieve this. We can do it by God's grace, and we shall do it for God's glory."

excerpt from a story by Gad Maiga, communicator for the Kenya-Ethiopia Conference.

One of six churchwide Special Sundays with offerings of The United Methodist Church, UMCOR Sunday calls United Methodists to share the goodness of life with those who hurt. Your gifts to UMCOR Sunday lay the foundation for the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) to share God’s love with communities everywhere. The special offering underwrites UMCOR’s “costs of doing business.” This helps UMCOR to keep the promise that 100 percent of any gift to a specific UMCOR project will go toward that project, not administrative costs.

When you give generously on UMCOR Sunday, you make a difference in the lives of people who hurt. Give now.