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Photo: Sintayehu get the fire going for the traditional coffee ceremony to welcome OD worker.

December 20, 2009 was one of the darkest days of Sintayehu’s life. It was on this day that extremists killed her husband, Markos Lagiso, outside her home. Fellow believers say he was killed for the financial assistance he gave to his church in seeking justice for a post-Ramadan attack they suffered in September 2008.   The tragic event rendered her near-drowning in the pond of despondency and brokenness. But now Sintayehu’s life is a testament to the fact that God turns our brokenness into joy and with God’s help she keep the faith.

Brokenness

Dealing with the sudden death of her life companion seemed impossible at the time. The two had a happy marriage that brought forth seven children. The close-knit family was well respected in the Christian community and did whatever they could to contribute to the church’s continued ministry in the midst of increasing hostility from the predominantly Muslim community.

During this time, Sintayehu wondered how she would provide for her family. Marcos was a successful businessman, but he was robbed of all the restaurant profit at the time of his murder.

Then there was the continued hostility in the community to deal with. Anger against the family continued and she knew she needed to move.

She was also facing trials in raising her seven children without the help of their father. Her oldest son was displaying wayward behavior. Another son quit his studies to start a small income generating business. She disapproved, but he told her, “I cannot continue studying while our family is struggling financially.”

2011 proved to be another difficult year as one of her sons, Tekalign, was involved in a motor accident in which two people died. It was a very upsetting event for the family. Tragedy struck again in November that year when another of her sons, Abush, died in an accidental explosion at work. Most recently, the family heard that the person convicted of Marcos’ murder will be released from prison after having served only about half of his 15 year sentence.

Mercy

But although her troubles abounded, Sintayehu has seen that the mercies of God abound more, particularly as He sent people to come alongside her and the children in their season of pain.

Only a short while after the shocking murder Open Doors field workers visited Sintayehu to comfort her and pray with her. “Your presence at the time of my despair stirred my heart. My hope was restored because of your presence.”

We also started a letter writing campaign for her which brought the love of her wider Christian family to her at her time of greatest need. About the large collection of letters and cards she received, she said, “This is true compassion that I will never forget.”

Supporters from around the world also travelled with OD to visit the family which surprised them. “My children and I were moved that people from foreign lands took the time to fellowship with an Ethiopian family in a village unknown to them.”

Sintayehu never hesitated to share her challenges with us and asked us to pray for her wayward son. She saw God bring healing in this situation. “My son now has a heart that is filled for the kingdom of God. He likes to preach (the gospel) to everyone he meets.” He has been blessed with the grace of forgiveness. “A friend came to my son and asked him, ‘How could you keep silent without avenging your father’s blood?’ My son replied, ‘He is my father. I love him and it hurts me to know that he is killed. But, my father’s case is not new when it comes to the gospel. There are others who (have died) for the sake of Christ. So, there is no need for revenge. My father didn’t die in vain. He died for the name of Christ. And that is an honor for me.”

Mihret, Sintayehu’s 18-year-old daughter has also joined the church choir. “I love going to church, singing, and reading the Word of God,” she said.

Sintayehu also attended a trauma counselling seminar OD arranged for widows. During the seminar she realized that God never wastes our pain and may be using it to prepare us to be a comfort to others. “I served Jesus with my husband for twenty years before he was killed. Now, God has graciously given me a ministry to others who are suffering as well. I have discovered that no matter how hard I fall, God will lift me up!”

OD also brought tangible support to the family. We supported them financially for years and helped her buy a house in another area so that the family could be together for this new phase in their lives.

Now Sintayehu is strong enough to open a restaurant in her area in order to provide for the family (with coaches close by to advise). She is excited about this new venture and asks us to pray for God’s blessing upon it.

“I thank God. After the death of my husband many people have encouraged me and prayed for me. I thank you for your support. Psalm 20:1-2 is a great encouragement to me. ‘May the LORD answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you. May He send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support from Zion.’ Indeed, God has sent you when I was distressed, to comfort me and to support me. God bless you. May God give an eternal dwelling in His kingdom to those who prayed for me and made all this support to me and my children possible.”

When asked about the secret behind her strong faith in Christ, she replies, “No secret. It is just God. His comfort and His power have strengthened my heart not to give up on my faith in Christ, no matter what comes in life.”

Prayer

  1. Please thank the Lord for protecting Sintayehu’s faith and for the way He has been providing for her. Thank the Lord with us for the faithful support we have enjoyed that has enabled us to play a part in this process.
  2. Pray for the continued spiritual growth of the children.
  3. Pray for the Lord’s protection over the family. The person convicted of Marcos’ murder has been released even though he has served only about half of his 15 year sentence. “The protection of God is greater than the protection of man. So, I and my children are protected by God.”
  4. Pray for the Lord’s blessing on their business.