As the humanitarian issues escalate in the largely Orthodox north, the conflict tests evangelicals’ loyalty and theology.
There’s one thing that all evangelical Christians in Ethiopia can agree on: Three years ago, when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to power, their country was transformed.
The transition to an ethnically Oromo leader marked a break from 27 years of rule by the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). And in a country historically dominated by Orthodox and Muslim believers, Abiy became the first openly evangelical head of government Ethiopia ever had.
But since a bitter and violent conflict broke out between Abiy’s government and the formerly ruling TPLF in the northern Tigray region in November 2020, evangelicals—who make up just over 18 percent of the population—have been divided over how to respond.
The majority, according to Christian Ethiopians and ministry workers in Ethiopia that I interviewed, support the military operation. Their support has held strong even as reports of civilian deaths, ethnic cleansing, horrific human rights abuses, and widespread hunger inflicted on the Tigrayan population rise in scale and urgency.
Earlier this month, the UN announced that more than 350,000 people in the Tigray region are already living in famine conditions, with another 1.7 million approaching famine. While the national government this week unilaterally declared a ceasefire after Tigrayans recaptured their regional capital, the TPLF is vowing to continue the fight.
Mazaa (a pseudonym), a 44-year-old who runs a K–8 school with her husband outside of Addis Ababa, has tried to share her concerns about the grave suffering of Tigrayans with fellow evangelicals. She asked not to be named out of fear of retribution against her students’ families.
Her school near the capital city serves …