by Jayson Casper
One reason Ethiopians were involved in high-profile tragedies at opposite ends of the continent: Their nation is the second-most populous in Africa as well as the second-poorest in the world (87 percent of Ethiopia's 94 million people are impoverished).
Roughly two-thirds of Ethiopians are Christians. The majority of these belong to the ancient Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church; the rest primarily to Protestant denominations such as the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Makane Yesus (which recently broke ties with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America over theological concerns).
The Orthodox and Protestants have long had in common the search for a better life. Increasingly, they share even more.
Veteran SIM missionary Howard Brant celebrates that “the two groups are coming closer and closer together” in Ethiopia, which he calls “one of the great success stories of evangelical Christianity.”
The martyred migrants in Libya, he said, likely belonged to the Orthodox church. “But if they were strong enough believers to refuse to deny Jesus on pain of death,” he said, “then God knows their hearts.”
The Tewahedo church—like its Orthodox sister church in Egypt—celebrates its history of martyrdom. It claims descent from the Ethiopian eunuch converted by Philip in Acts 8, and dates formally to the preaching of Frumentius in the early fourth century and the acceptance of Christianity in A.D. 330.
The name means "unified" in Ge’ez, the ancient and still liturgical language of Ethiopia. It refers to Christ’s one nature, both human and divine. In A.D. 451, the Oriental Orthodox churches rejected the Council of Chalcedon’s pronouncement of his two natures...