Miracle in Ethiopia

A former persecutor's conversion reveals God's hand in the midst of tragedy.
By Jerry Dykstra


God has a way of turning the deepest pain into victory. Today, because Ethiopian Christians faithfully ministered to a convicted murderer in jail, God brought salvation to Mohammed Ahmed, who was convicted of killing an evangelist named Tulu on Feb. 2, 2005. (Some pseudonyms are used in this story to protect the believers.)

Tulu was the fifth eldest child of eight, but suffered from an unidentified disease that made him physically weak and a slow learner. During July 2001, Tulu accepted Christ and experienced God's healing hand. Tulu's health improved to such an extent that he was able to attend secondary school in a predominantly Muslim area in southern Ethiopia.

Tulu devoted time to prayer and studying the Word of God. He became known for his warmth and affection when witnessing about God's love to the community. However, some Muslim extremists did not appreciate the change in Tulu's life and attacked him with a spear five months after his conversion. Even though the spear penetrated his skull, after intensive treatment he miraculously recovered.

"During this time," recalls his mother, Lulit, "there were only four believers in our area, but through Tulu's persecution, God saved 50 people, including his father and me."

The assassination
Mohammed confronted Tulu at a secondary school on that tragic day in 2005. Tulu, who wanted to rush home, responded, "Please leave me alone!"

Mohammed swung his machete and hit Tulu's throat with a single blow as he shouted the Jihad (Islamic) war cry: "Allahu Akbar!"

Tulu's aunt, who was in the vicinity, heard a noise and investigated. She found Tulu lying helplessly on the ground in a pool of blood. Though Tulu was in shock, he repeatedly whispered, "In Jesus' name!" The family tried to rush him to a nearby clinic, but the young evangelist took his final breath and died en route. He was 19.

Perplexing imprisonment
On March 9, 2005, local police authorities imprisoned nine of Tulu's family members for allegedly demolishing property belonging to another tribe. They were questioned for 14 days.

"The police deceived us," shared Abdela Meka, who is Tulu's father. "First, the police came to my house and asked me to help them identify Tulu's assassin. But when we arrived at the police station, they arrested me and eight other people from my family!"

They were imprisoned in the same facility as Mohammed. Abdela was deeply discouraged by this situation. "I suffer a double punishment! First I lost my son, next they forbid me to mourn his death and put me in prison with his murderer."

Abdela and six of his co-accused are currently out on bail and awaiting trail.

Winning a soul for Christ
Two local church leaders in southern Ethiopia have permission to visit prisoners at least once a week. During such a visit, the church leaders approached Mohammed with a few words of encouragement. Though at first he was not receptive, the leaders continued to demonstrate God's unconditional love.

Mohammed was initially very suspicious of the motive behind these regular visits. But as the leaders continued to invite him to follow Christ, he started to show interest. Because of their patience in sharing the gospel and their reassurance that they held no grudge against him, God's grace broke through and Mohammed accepted Christ as his Lord.

Although local authorities attributed the cause of Tulu's murder to a disagreement between the two families, Mohammed confessed religious fanaticism, fanned by Muslim extremists, was the real reason for Tulu's murder. He sincerely regretted what happened.

The two church leaders discipled Mohammed and three other Muslim background believers while in prison. On March 5, a little more than two years after the murder, Mohammed was baptized in the name of the God he once persecuted. The prison authorities escorted him and the other three prisoners to the church compound and witnessed their baptism.

When the excited converts were asked to give their testimonies before being immersed, Mohammed made sure all the witnesses understood that he was being baptized in the name of the Almighty God, testifying of his redemption in Jesus Christ. After the converts came out of the water, they prayed, sang hymns, and celebrated Holy Communion.

Pray for:
• God to work reconciliation between the families of the late Tulu and his murderer Mohammed.

• Lulit requests prayer for one of her sons, that he may come to know Christ and become a minister.

• The church in southern Ethiopia suffers intense persecution from Muslims. Pray they remain faithful to the vision of sharing God's unconditional love.


Persecution Report is presented in cooperation with Open Doors USA, which serves the Persecuted Church through training, Bible distribution, and community development. For more information, call 1-888-5-BIBLE-5 or visit www.odusa.org.

Copyright © 2007 by the author or Christianity Today International/Today's Christian magazine.

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