A Different Kind of Tool for the Struggle against Injustice – Tselot

February 2nd, 2010 Print Print Email Email

A friend of mine who is a Moslem prays five times a day. I once asked him why he prays so many times. (more…)

A friend of mine who is a Moslem prays five times a day. I once asked him why he prays so many times. His explanation was simple: in addition to being one of the pillars of his faith, he believes it is a petition to the Almighty God to have good health, prosperity and peace in ones life. He goes on to say that prayer is his first line of defense. According to him what is happening in the spiritual world is eventually manifested in the physical. Therefore the only way to fight back the spiritual that manifests itself in the physical is by being spiritual.

Spiritual battle between good and evil is raging in Ethiopia. This is evident from the recent growth in the number of witches and wizards throughout the country. Another friend, who just came back from the country, related to me that an alarming numbers of people visit these witches. According to him, in some rural areas it is customary to use witches as judges to preside over legal matters. It is not unusual, for example, to receive subpoena issued by witches; this is normally a responsibility of the courts. This alone says a great deal about the state of the justice system in Ethiopia. The current rulers of Ethiopia are also known to frequent these places of evil worship. In fact this same friend told me that, Azeb is a well known customer of witchcraft services. It is rumored that she has been told by one of the practitioners that her husband will eventually be eliminated by someone who is very close to him.

These days, true faith believers are attacked by wizardry from the outside but also from religious institutions from the inside. For instance, the Orthodox Christians are constantly harassed by the likes of Abun Paulos and his gang of Mahbere Kidusan (better known as Mahbere Erkusan). These hypocritical spiritual cadres believe and act exactly like what Jesus used to call “the Pharisees” two thousand years ago. They are simply an organization used by the regime to cripple the power of the church.

Some five years ago during the aftermath of the 2005 election in Ethiopia, I called my family to ask them how they are coping with the state violence on the people of Addis. My father at the time told me that it was unbearable even to an old man like himself. And I jokingly asked him to go pray for peace because I know he goes to church everyday. His response was alarming. The church officials have already posted prohibition notices on every church gate in Addis Abeba advising parishioners that praying for peace is not allowed as Woyane believes there is peace in the land. In Ethiopia, a struggle even as peaceful as a prayer is a crime.

If praying is considered as a protest tactic by the current rulers, then it must have some power for Woyane to be fearful enough as to ban it out right. This led me to research the power of prayer in the struggle for justice. Apart from being the most safe form of protesting (prayer is a petition between the believer and the Almighty God, hard to detect and therefore prohibition is difficult to enforce.), the advantages of prayer as a form of protest is threefold.

First, praying for a cause is a form of protest that appeals to believers of all religions.

Secondly, for both believers and non-believers alike, continuous calls for prayer keep reminding the people the struggle for justice is still alive and well and not forgotten. This will lead to internalization of the cause and may even give the people the strength to persevere in the face of hardship and injustice.

Thirdly, probably most importantly, prayer really works. I am a believer in the power of genuine prayer to bring about a desired change. But the question is what kind of prayer works and how does one pray.

Prayer That Works

As part of my research, I asked my local pastor how to pray effectively. According to him an effective prayer is one where the faithful starts by giving praise and glory to the Almighty God. Then he/she acknowledges his/her sinfulness first and seeks forgiveness followed by petitioning divine intervention to obtain a desired outcome. A good prayer always ends by giving thanks to God. In general the prayer has to fall in line with the nature of God and His grand plan for his creatures. One cannot for instance ask the Lord to cover their lies for them or cannot seek divine protection when one is out to rob a bank.

Once the petitioner present his/her prayer in good faith, he/she can rest assured that the wish is already granted. Prayers are answered in one of three ways: The first is that the prayer is answered positively and the petitioner is granted his/her wish. Secondly, the answer is a definite no. and thirdly, the prayer is answered but not exactly as expected. As mentioned before, the positive answer is a result of prayer that is presented in accordance with divine laws. Prayers that contradict God’s laws or grand plan for his creatures will not be positively answered. Where granting the requested wish of the petitioner is not in the best interest of the petitioner, God will respond with what is appropriate under the circumstances. For instance, one can ask for a fast car like a Ferrari but God might give the requester a Hyundai Pony. God may perceive that a fast car may expose the believer to more aggressive driving that could lead to endangerment of his life and other users of the road.

Powerful Prayer

Powerful prayer is one where like-minded individuals get together and present their prayer in tandem. This might pose some logistic problems for Ethiopians are dispersed over 5 continents. Coordinating this might seem staggering. But thanks to technology we can easily coordinate the event to happen at the same time all over the world. We can plan for the event to happen every two weeks. It is especially important to make every effort that the time to be picked is convenient for the Ethiopian people. They are the ones who are faced with tyranny day in and day out.

To begin the prayer campaign, we can set up a paltalk room where we can advertise and even share prayer ideas. Although I am not technologically savvy, I know there are other tools we can use such as Face Book, Twitter, email and other types of user groups as well as cell phone texting. We can also ask the assistance of radio programmers who broadcast to Ethiopia to help us reach possible Ethiopian participants.

Sample Prayer

The following prayer can be modified if necessary. The prayer has Christian tone and therefore our Moslem brothers can compose something that is appropriate for their faith along the same lines:
Alas, O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and loving-kindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments,
We have sinned, committed iniquity, acted wickedly and rebelled, even turning aside from Your commandments and ordinances. Do not remember our iniquities and let Your compassion come quickly to meet us. Forgive us and deliver us for Your name’s sake.
Let the groaning of the prisoners of Ethiopia come before you;
For strange oppressors have risen against the people of Ethiopia
Violent men have sought our lives;
Even the ones ruling over us oppress us;
They trampled upon us all day long;
They have no fear of God in them for evil is in their midst

Look upon our affliction and rescue us, O Lord;
Bring down our oppressors and scatter them;
Do not let the arrogant rule over us and oppress us;
We long for Your salvation O Lord, set us free from the rule of the deceitful;
Destroy the evil in the land and restore to us your peace;

We sing praises to You for You do not forsake those who seek You;
We pray to be free from our oppressors, in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen

Alternatively, believers can be asked to pray their own composition.

Initially, I wanted to write in Amharic but I do not have Amharic software and I have not tried typing in Amharic. The Prayer can be improved upon and typed in Amharic to reach the most.

I have heard that religion plays a very important role in Latin America. They have a form of ideology used to fight injustice known as Liberation Theology. Anyone who knows enough about this form of struggle may give us an idea if we can employ it and use it for our cause.

  1. Tegga Lendado
    | #1

    Selam, everyone!
    Thank you, Abugida for posting the above article. You could have dismissed it as ‘irrelevant’ as do many other websites.
    Here is an article I wrote a few weeks ago. If you find it appropriate and timely, please, post it.

    A Day of Reckoning and Healing: If Not Now, When…?

    In the face corruption, mistrust, misunderstanding, recurrent famine, natural or man-made disasters, terrorist threats, border tensions, bitter rivalry among politicians, bickering intelligentsia, silent resistance, remote religiosity, futile climate change chatters and diplomacy, abuses of power and influence, etc., we need to seek God’s face. There is gross sin in our heart and our house! Generally, our people are “religious” but without profound fear of God. Pride, anger, deceit, malice, jealousy, idolatry, unforgiving spirit, egotism, hedonism, etc., seem to govern our life. Our religiosity does not seem to promote forgiveness, confession, fasting, prayer, reconciliation and reconnecting with one another. Wise and godly leaders of the most advanced democratic nation, USA, noticed the lack of these virtues in their societies and openly practiced and promoted prayer. These leaders were not ashamed of their heritage and value although their descendants today seem to be fast drifting from the legacy. In this short article, I would like to persuade my esteemed readers to consider the need of a national, regional or local day of repentance, forgiveness and healing before going to polls to vote for their representatives. My intention here is not to show so much how these could be done but that it could be done.

    On March 30, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued the following proclamation.
    “Whereas, the Senate of the United States, devoutly recognizing the Supreme Authority and just Government of Almighty God, in all the affairs of men and of nations, has, by a resolution, requested the President to designate and set apart a day for National prayer and humiliation…. And whereas it is the duty of nations as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions, in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord…. Now, therefore, in compliance with the request, and fully concurring in the views of the Senate, I do, by this my proclamation, designate and set apart Thursday, the 30th. Day of April 1863, as a day of national humiliation, fasting and prayer. And I do hereby request all the People to abstain, on that day, from their ordinary secular pursuits, and to unite, at their several places of public worship and their respective homes, in keeping the day holy to the Lord, and devoted to the humble discharge of the religious duties proper to that solemn occasion. All this being done, in sincerity and truth, let us then rest humbly in the hope authorized by the Divine teachings, that the united cry of the Nation will be heard on high, and answered with blessings, no less than the pardon of our national sins, and the restoration of our now divided and suffering Country, to its former happy condition of unity and peace.”

    The National Day of Prayer is a day designated by the United States Congress as a day when people are asked to come together and pray, especially for their country. It was created as a floating holiday in 1952 and fixed on the first Thursday in May by Ronald Reagan.

    The Bible declares, “If my people who are called in my name shall humble themselves and pray, and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2Chr. 7:13-14).

    In as much as sin provokes God’s judgment, genuine repentance and reconciliation invoke His mercy and blessing through earnest prayer (Mt. 5:24). With His mercy comes our personal and national healing. If national begging for bread, acute poverty and prelevant state of affairs do not humble us to be forgiving and compassionate to one another, then what else would? Notice that such privilege is given to “My” (i.e., God’s own) people anywhere although it was given to the Israelites in the Old Testament. In the New Testament it is “whosoever” (Jn.1: 12-14) willing to believe and obey God’s Son, the Messiah in whom all believers are included. Mind also, that Ethiopia, not the geo-political territory only but the people of Africa, influenced by Ethiopians have a significant role to play in spiritual realm, according to Ps. 68:31.

    In my youth in Wolayita Soddo, Ethiopia, I saw Aba Melaku, a renowned monk who was later renamed Abuna Tekle Haimanot at his ordination as Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church during the traumatic Dirgue reign in 1975. Living close to the monastery where the Abuna lived, I had the privilege of knowing him personally. He used to wear chains on his naked torso, a leather skirt covering from his waste to the knee and barabasso sandals on his feet. Going to school, I would see him every morning walking so fast past my house. It was fun to run after him sometimes. He sometimes blessed me laying his cold and soft hand on my head. I must confess that I used to throw pebbles at him along with the neighborhood boys. But, when I came to my senses, I loved him. I believe he was in his late forties in 1960s when the attempted coup against the Emperor failed and many plotters were killed. Among them was the beloved Guermamay Neway, the former governor of Wolayita. The news about his death was devastating to many who loved him. I believe it was thereafter that the Abuna organized a prayer rally at the Tekle Haimanot Monastery. He mobilized teachers and students of Ligaba Beyene School, men and women of all ages to pray for Ethiopia. Aba Melaku walked on bare foot around the whole city yelling, “Maat metta, libb gizu” (meaning, a disaster is at hand; repent). He called the people of Soddo to fast and pray daily for Ethiopia for three weeks. We prostrated and prayed every morning and evening. Sure enough, God averted the “Maat” that Ethiopia could have been subjected to.

    By and large, Ethiopians had been deeply “religious” people before atheistic communism wrecked the country in 1974. In the dilemma of prolonged poverty, starvation, misery and underdevelopment owing to natural and manmade causes, we plunged into a political and socio-cultural abyss called communist revolution. In dethroning the emperor, we felt we also got rid of the Almighty God and His creation that we blamed for our misfortunes. We rebelled against any authority from parent to prime minister. We defied our environment, tradition, culture, religion, ancestors, our own history and ethos. We sank into a state of denial having been drugged by the communist literature filled with hatred, hopelessness, destruction, jealousy, rage, bitterness, doom and gloom. In that state of mind we killed each other, facilitated destruction, found ourselves further sinking in corruption and chaos and provoked havoc in the city and country (Red and White Terror). We showed contempt to the rule of law thinking we were the law. We demonized others to promote ourselves. We renounced defeat because thinking we were invincible. We did not feel guilty because we sealed our conscience. We feared neither man nor God. We removed God from our daily vocabulary. Interestingly, we said we had a religion or an ancestral legacy. We took our children to church but we were not believers. We despised the church and all religious establishments. We did not know how to discipline our private life but we wanted to lead our nation. We did not have peace within us but we preached utopia. We hid hatred and war in our hearts but outwardly advocated for justice. Even now at dandy maturity, we still do not fear God and respect others; we cannot stand each other individually but we easily unite for such activities as edir, debo, feast, zefen, sports, tekawumo or degaf, worship and war. While these seemingly brutal generalizations are largely true, conversely, we possess a legacy of chewanet (gentleness) and endurance as a people. Our bravery in battle and flexibility in diplomacy seem to command universal respect. Obviously, the “we” here refers to any adult who survived the communist revolution of 1974-1991 and are still fiercely atheist or agnostic in attitude and action. “We” are now fathers and grand fathers but still unrepentant of our past and present sins and crimes overtly or covert committed. Apathy, knowing the right thing and not doing it is also sin. Either way, we are accomplice with the past onslaughts and the present internal woes and the future demise. The good news is that we are all sinners (Rom.3:23) who deserve death but only for God’s mercy (Rom.6:23). Many of us have fled to churches and worship centers but only God knows whether we have truly repented, reconciled with ourselves, our past and our neighbors, most importantly with God, repaired our relationship to the point of trusting one another. I believe, this is a national malady.

    In April/May 1991, just before Col. Mengistu’s arrival in Harare, Zimbabwe, an Egyptian Orthodox Church priest and I organized a three-week fasting and prayer meeting for Ethiopia. A group of about 120-150 Ethiopians prayed every evening at the Egyptian Church, as did many others around the world. As a result, I believe God averted the danger and brought calm to the land

    We are grateful that many people have joined their fellow believers repenting and praying in public prayer rallies in recent years. Apparently, the lacking link is reconciliation to the extent of repairing broken relationships, healing wounded hearts and burying lingering memories in our minds. We know our past has to be effectively dealt with in order to face the present and unknown future. As a servant of God and a fellow wounded warier (not physically), I am only here to encourage every one in advanced age to forgive one another, repent and reconcile with God first and with his/her alleged offender. Let me eho here Prof. Mesfin Wolde Mariam’s ‘Yiqer LeEgziAbher’. No anger should last beyond one day, according to Eph. 4:26. I am pleading with rulers or subjects, politicians or apolitical, opposing parties or supporters, peasantry or proletariat, professionals or businessmen, rich or poor Tigre or Somali, embittered with one another to reconcile with themselves first (through heart-felt repentance) and then with their immediate offenders, i.e., neighbors, relatives before praying to God in behalf of the country. I am appealing to all Christian denominations both in Ethiopia and in the Diaspora, including the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Ethiopian Catholic Church and all Protestant or Evangelical Churches, to intentionally collaborate in this grandiose matter of hosting a day of confession, prayer and reconciliation in ahead of the upcoming election in Ethiopia and in the Diaspora.
    Similarly, I am not too proud or too shy to beg fellow Ethiopians of other persuasions, to consecrate such a day for prayer, forgiveness, repentance, healing, reconciliation and reconnection ahead of the upcoming election season, should their religion provide such a moment. I believe God’s love and grace transcend all our doctrinal differences and religious traditions. In this new year, let us resolve to give gratitude to God and to each other. Our misery will end if we yield to God.

    Merry Ethiopian Christmas to all.

    Rev. Tegga Lendado, PhD.

  2. Erich Kofmel
    | #2

    Check out my blog, the “Political Theology Agenda” (includes liberation theologies):



  3. koster
    | #3

    Meles will not be removed by prayer but by force and bullet. It could be by his “son”, or Azeb. If both failed the other possibility is to be killed by AIDS. It is very unfortunate that Ethiopia is ruled by someone who hates the country and its people.

  4. B.Ayele
    | #4

    To Rev. Tegga Lendado:

    With due respect let me disagree with you in few points concerning G-d, the creator, sustainer and distroyer of the universe as well as the referene you made about him and the bible itself.

    (1) In paragraph 6, you referred the Jewish (Hebrew Bible) as “Old” Testament. Please be aware that our Bible is not old just as much as the word of G-d is not old. It is you the christians and other Pagans who has given such labling and we resent it deeply. Please refer it by its proper name, “the Hebrew Bible”.

    (2) At same paragraph, you further reminded readers and said “Notice that such privilage was given to “MY” (God’s own) people although it was given to the Israelite”. You did not indicate where in the Hebrew Bible G-d .said that Jews/Israelites are his only people. Although G-d refer Israelites as his people in many biblical naratives, he was, however, everyones’ G-d in the administration of his justice. G-d said to non jewish race as follows:

    “…all who keep the Sabbath and do not profane it, and who hold fast to My covenant, I will bring them to my sacred mount and let them rejoice in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices shall be welcome on My altar. For My house shall be a house of prayer FOR ALL PEOPLES – Isaiah 56:6-7

    To the contrary, it was Jesus who said “I was sent “ONLY” to the lost sheep of Israel – Matthew 15:24 (NIV). Notwithstanding his claim, however, he was rejected by Jews and killed by the Romans for his attempt to overthrow the Caesar Administration even though we the Jews also passed our judgement per our law as dictated by God in Detronomy 13:1-6

  5. Truth Shall Set You Free
    | #5

    To Koster:
    Do not undermine the power of a righteous prayer. The thing about religion is it seems foolish to the world but it has power. Some scientists are currently experementing on the power of group prayer. They recognize there is something to it.

    Secondly, The act of praying for a cause is in itself a form of protest. It keeps reminding people we are in under some tyranny. It is a constant reminder. I hope you will agree.

    The question is how do we organize a mass prayer campaign without an organization that devotes itself to making it happen. Opposition groups may not want to involve.

    I for one is a strong believer. Let us do it

  6. Truth Shall Set You Free
    | #6

    Another advantage is that the gov’t may be more exposed for trying to stop it. It brings bad publicity to woyane. There will more international accusations of human rights, if woyane tries to stop it.

  7. Truth Shall Set You Free
    | #7

    I would like for Dr. Lendado to help us organize this holy project. Please give us your contact info here so we may contact you.

  8. Sami
    | #8

    What a good idea. I always believe that Meles Zenawi is an evil possessed man. He is not your typical African tyranny. What he has been doing has no benefit to any one, yet many perish for it and he spread the seed of hate so the blood shied would continue. That is what evil does. Evil live in blood shied and sorrow. That is his habitat. He lives in it, he feeds in it. Where there is love and harmony, there is no evil. What we have with Meles has a spiritual dimension. As a Christian, I believe in the power of prayer and I strongly support this idea of organized prayer. According to the Holy Bible, when a group of people come in agreement and pray, they move God’s hand. It is understandable that not everybody would buy in to this kind of idea, but it also important that Ethiopia is a country of many and her children can came up with a lot of different ways of helping their mother. The once who don’t agree with this idea need to keep doing what they have been doing and let others do their part in the way they know how. We should focus on the real problem not on each other. I hope some one would organize us for this Holy purpose. I can’t wait to hear the next step.

    I condemn the evil sprite that is running our country in the name of the almighty God!

    God bless Ethiopia!

  9. Amen Belu
    | #9

    Very timely! I fully agree with the good missionary. Group prayer works in all faiths.

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