By Michael Ireland
Chief Correspondent, ASSIST News Service
ETHIOPIA (ANS) -- Last week, Christians gathering at local churches in a southern region in Ethiopia were enjoying singing and worship when, without warning, hundreds of men armed with machetes and clubs leapt through the open windows and indiscriminately began attacking everyone present. The attackers barricaded the doors to try to prevent people from escaping.
Envoy Ministries (www.envoyministries.org ) says that when the carnage was complete, there were three Ethiopian church planters (missionaries) dead, one more person died March 9, and more than 70 were injured, with 40 people sustaining serious injuries. The death toll is expected to rise. Hundreds fled the area and are being cared for by Christians in other towns.
David Hunt, President of Envoy Ministries, says the attack occurred on March 3, when initially three people were killed. One person later died of wounds sustained in the attack, and seven people remain in hospital.
Hunt told ASSIST News: "Three days ago evangelists began flowing into a nearby town and in one day more than 30 evangelists begged to be sent back into exact area. Yesterday we committed to support the first ten with $60 monthly -- today the 10 headed back to the area saying 'We are ready to lay down our lives.'"
The Envoy Ministries website says that why such brutal attacks would take place is hard to understand, except that as the Gospel has flourished in Ethiopia and as people put their faith in Christ, others, violently opposed to the Gospel, do anything they can to stop the proclamation of the Gospel.
The site goes on to state: "However, Jesus said, 'I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.' Truly we are seeing that being borne out in the Church in Ethiopia and in the lives of our brave brothers and sisters in Christ."
Envoy Ministries says: "We have been in communication with the church there, nearly every day with news of the latest developments. As we learned of the devastation and impact on the Christians, we immediately sent $10,000 to help care for all affected. We have committed to cover the medical costs of those injured and to assist the 190 people who fled. Although this is not enough to cover all the costs, we believe we must do what we can and we invite the Christian public to join with us to care for them as long as they need help."
In speaking with the Ethiopian Christian leadership, Envoy Ministries says of the church planters that: "They consider that they have already died and have counted the cost to serve the Lord Jesus Christ. They said they are encouraged by the response to the Gospel in this region and for every one who died; there are 20 more ready to go in their place. They asked us to help provide for at least 50 church planters to return to preach the Gospel. They said, simply, 'We are inspired to go and work more.'"
The church leaders also asked if the ministry could help re-build the churches that were attacked.
Envoy Ministries says: "Our response was, 'You pray and we will share with our friends.' It now costs around $1,000 per church as they supply the land, the labor and the lumber. Our goal now has been elevated, as more churches have been destroyed and now we have 17 churches to rebuild."
The ministry asks believers in the United States "to first pray for the church in Ethiopia, for all those who are suffering and lost loved ones, and to join us in provision as we endeavor to care for all those affected. Thank you and God bless you."
Envoy Ministries says it is Christ’s messengers of hope to the lost and His emissaries of encouragement to the persecuted.
"We are called to serve in His name... and we are commanded to share His Gospel.
"Our ministry impacts lives, communities and nations through Bible distribution, church planting and providing practical helps to suffering and persecuted believers."
Envoy Ministries International is "called to be God’s trustworthy envoys of hope to those who are lost and hurting."