On 19th April, the world witnessed the brutal execution of 30 Ethiopian and Eritrean Christians by ISIL militants in Libya. This is the story of three of those men, and what led to them being martyred as Christians.
Life in impoverished Ethiopia is grueling. While the economy has grown significantly over the past decade, the average income in Ethiopia is still less than two dollars per day. Facing this kind of financial strain, Eyasu Yekuneamlak, Balcha Belete, and Eliyas Teshane made the difficult decision to leave their homes to find a better way to provide for their families. They died claiming the Name of Christ to the end.
Eyasu Yekuneamlak and Balcha Belete were best friends growing up in an impoverished neighbourhood of Addis Ababa. As the youngest son, Yekuneamlak was responsible for caring for his weak and destitute mother. Since his mother was unable to work, Yekuneamlak drove a taxi and served as the main breadwinner for the family.
However, driving the taxi proved insufficient for his family, so the financial stress forced him out of Ethiopia to seek better employment abroad. He first worked in Qatar, but when he disagreed with his Muslim bosses, Yekuneamlak was deported back to Ethiopia. His only option then was to search for work in Europe, and the best way to get there was through Libya and then across the Mediterranean Sea on a boat.
Yekuneamlak’s best friend, 35-year-old Balcha Belete, worked for the Ethiopian Electric service provider. However, his older brother says that Belete was dissatisfied with the working conditions and sought to make more money to support his family.
“Their only dream was to get out of poverty,” Yekuneamlak’s brother said. The two men left their families, determined to find a better future. They crossed the Sudan before entering Libya, where ISIL kidnapped them. Both men were executed, but died refusing to deny Christ.
Eliyas Teshane, 27, had just graduated college and hoped to make money to care for his father, Ato, who is suffering from mental illness. The best way Teshane knew was to travel to Europe and put his college education to good use with a well paying job.
Teshane never made it, as he was also captured in Libya and slaughtered for his faith.
These three men died without denying Jesus, and showed themselves faithful to the end.
- Give thanks for the witness of these men, and the many other Christians who have been executed by ISIL. Pray that their deaths will not be in vain, but through their witness and faithfulness many others will come to know Christ.
- Pray for their families, that in their grief, they will know the comfort of the Everlasting Arms around them.
- Pray for protection for Christians in the Middle East and North Africa and an end to the brutality of ISIL.
Philippians 1 vs 20 -21: “Christ will be exalted now as always in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain.”
Source:International Christian Concern, www.persecution.org