Receive the latest news, updates and prayer requests from the persecuted church direct to your inbox.
Ethiopia: 'My hope was restored' - seven years of support
For almost seven years, Open Doors has been walking closely alongside Ethiopian widow, Sintayehu. Throughout her trials and pain, your letters of encouragement, financial gifts and prayers have helped her to hold on to God. Recently, we went back to see Sintayehu to find out how she is doing and to see how God has been answering her prayers.
Brokenness: A single mother
It was on 20 December 2009 that Sintayehu, pregnant with her seventh child, saw her husband brutally murdered outside their home. Markos Lagiso had been killed by local Muslims, purportedly for assisting his church to seek justice after it had been attacked around Ramadan.
But this wasn't the end of the family's troubles. Without a father and with fears over the loss of their income, her oldest son displayed wayward behaviour and another son decided to quit his studies to earn money to support the family.
And in 2011, tragedy struck again. First Sintayehu's son, Tekalign, was involved in a serious motor accident. Then just a few months later, her son, Abush, was killed whilst at work in an accidental explosion.
But although her troubles have abounded, Sintayehu has seen that the mercies of God abound even more.
Your letters show 'true compassion'
"Your presence at the time of my despair stirred my heart," recalls Sintayehu, talking about when we first visited her soon after her husband's death. "My hope was restored because of your presence."
In 2011, to encourage Sintayehu, Open Doors ran a letter-writing campaign in which hundreds of supporters sent messages of love and hope to the beleaguered family. "This is true compassion that I will never forget," she said shortly afterwards.
Also, volunteers from around the world travelled with Open Doors to stand alongside her: "My children and I were moved that people from foreign lands took the time to fellowship with an Ethiopian family in a village unknown to them."
Sintayehu's prayers answered
Thankfully, through the prayers of our worldwide family many of Sintayehu's fears regarding the wellbeing of her family and have been overcome.
"My [eldest] son now has a heart that is filled for the kingdom of God," shares Sintayehu, who had asked us to pray for his wayward behaviour. "He likes to preach [the gospel] to everyone he meets." He has even forgiven his father's attackers.
Through trauma counselling provided by Open Doors, Sintayehu has also been developing ways of dealing with Markos' death. "I have discovered that no matter how hard I fall, God will lift me up!" reflects Sintayehu. And because of financial assistance from Open Doors, Sintayehu's immediate material needs have been met and she has been able to buy a suitable home for her family. "Thank you so much. It's a great thing for me to get a house where I could rest."
A brighter future
This is an exciting season for Sintayehu and her family. Thanks to Open Doors' supporters standing alongside, praying for, supporting and encouraging her through her grief, Sintayehu is now in a place where she is able to begin her own business enterprise to provide for her family.
"I thank God," says Sintayehu. "After the death of my husband, many people have encouraged me and prayed for me. I thank you for your support.
"Psalm 20:1-2 is a great encouragement to me… ‘May He send you help from the sanctuary...'. Indeed, God has sent you when I was distressed, to comfort me and to support me. God bless you. May God give an eternal dwelling in His kingdom to those who prayed for me and made all this support to me and my children possible."
- Thank God for the inspiring faith of Sintayehu despite all of the hardships she has faced
- That God would bless her new business and enable it to support the family
- That the family would continue to know God's mercy, provision and love.