Tulu Mosisa was just a simple farm laborer who loved the Lord.
He worked in the remote village of Nensebo Chebi in southern
Ethiopia in order to support his wife and five children, who
remained at home in another village. He also worshiped at a Protestant
church there: Kale Hiwot Baptist Church.
During the regular Sunday morning worship service, as Mosisa and
his Christian brothers and sisters were in the middle of prayer, men
armed with knives and machetes stormed into the church building. At
the same time, about a half hour’s walk away at Birhane Wongel Baptist
Church, more armed men interrupted the service. They were militant
Muslims, charged by their religious beliefs to cleanse the Muslim-dominated area of Christians.
Mosisa had come to church that morning alone—his family was not
with him—but the congregation was composed of people of all ages,
including women and children. The believers looked on helplessly as their
attackers barred all the church doors and windows, and then came at
them with their weapons.
“Allahu Akbar!” (“Allah is great!”) the attackers shouted as they
swung their knives and machetes. The people were defenseless; they
screamed and ran in all directions to avoid their assailants, but at least
twenty-three were injured, two even losing their hands. Mosisa was killed
when an attacker swung at him with a machete, nearly beheading him.
The violence finally ceased when members of the local militia arrived
and drove the men off. Several suspects were arrested, but none of the
attackers were officially identified.
At the time of the attack, 45 percent of Ethiopia’s population was
Muslim, reportedly practicing a tolerant version of Islam. However,
according to the Ethiopian Islamic Affairs Supreme Council, Ethiopia’s
Muslims have been increasingly influenced by Wahhabi Islam. Based on the teachings of Muhammad al-Wahhab, who lived in the eighteenth
century, Wahhabism is an extremist sect of Islam that seeks to reinstate
a pure, historical Islam that adheres strictly and solely to the original
teachings of the prophet Muhammad. Thus, it rejects all things modern
and secular, including reinterpretation of the Koran. It opposes the
nineteenth- and twentieth-century Muslim reform movements that have
sought to reinterpret parts of Islamic law to bring it closer to Western
standards. According to Wahhabi Muslims, theirs is the only true Islam.
Any other form of Islam is a false path, and Muslims who practice other
forms of Islam are not true Muslims.
It takes daily courage and strength—unwavering trust and hope in
the Lord—to live knowing that each day might be your last. Tulu Mosisa’s dedication to his faith was evident in his life, and his example through
his death spread to his family. When his wife, Chaltu Waga, was visited
by a Christian support organization after the incident, she greeted them
with smiles and enthusiasm. “God is great,” she proclaimed in the local language. Though devastated by her husband’s death, she explained how she had been greatly encouraged by visits from Christian friends. She said of her husband, “Although it is painful, I understand that he was killed for his faith.”
Jesus said, “And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake” (Mark
13:13). Sometimes that hate manifests itself in bodily death to the
believer. Tulu Mosisa was not afraid of death. He lived bravely and continued to meet regularly with other believers though it eventually cost
him his life, for he knew the promise of his Lord that “the one who
endures to the end will be saved” (Mark 13:13).
This story is an excerpt from Foxe: Voices of the Martyrs. You can get your own copy free with any donation to The Voice of the Martyrs.