ETHIOPIA – Eight people, including three children, are dead following flash flooding at Mekane Yesus Seminary in Addis Ababa on August 17, 2021.
“We request your prayers in this tragic moment,” the seminary writes. “It is with heavy hearts to lose eight and say goodbye.”
In addition to the tragic loss of life, there is extensive damage to seminary property, including residences. The seminary reports damage to 21 buildings, to roads, and to other infrastructure. Multiple families and students have been displaced, and the seminary was forced to suspend classes in the aftermath. Mekane Yesus Seminary is a theological institute of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY), the world’s largest Lutheran church body.
In a letter to leaders of the EECMY and the seminary, General Secretary Timothy Quill of the International Lutheran Council (ILC) expressed condolences and assured the Ethiopian church that Lutherans around the globe are naming them in prayer. “Our shared grief over the loss of life and property is deep,” he wrote. “However, for those who died in the flood, the Apostle Paul reminds us that we do not grieve as others who have no hope. Our hope is in Jesus who died and rose again, and at His coming He will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14). And as far as the loss of property, that can and will be replaced. We pray that God would open the hearts of His people to support the rebuilding of the seminary, and are confident that with His help, Mekane Yesus will emerge stronger than ever, trusting in Him after whom the seminary is named.”
“Our prayer is that you will find encouragement and strength to meet the challenging days ahead, knowing that it is our Lord’s Church and that He loves His Bride and her seminary,” Dr. Quill continued. “He promised to be with you always to the end of the age. It is our ascended Lord who gives the gifts of pastors for works of service to His Church (Ephesians 4:7-12). The Lord has given the EECMY the gift of a marvelous seminary in which faithful pastors will continue to be trained to preach the Gospel to the lost and give evangelical pastoral care to His faithful baptized children.”
The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS), a member church of the ILC, supports theological education at the Addis Ababa seminary through student scholarships and the provision of missionary professors at the school. One of those missionaries, Rev. Eric Stinnett, barely escaped from the flood with his wife and children. As soon as they realized what was happening, he and his wife sent their eight-year old running for higher ground, while their sixteen year-old carried the three-year-old to safety through waist-high water. Their twelve-year-old was not home at the time and was not endangered. Rev. Stinnet and his wife, meanwhile, got out with a few personal belongings just as the water reached chest height. They lost almost everything else.
“We are truly thankful that our Lord spared our lives,” said Rev. Stinnet. “While we did lose much of our possessions, they can all be eventually replaced. The situation is much more difficult for many of the other families affected by the flood.”
“Even though, as Christians, our mourning is not hopeless, we still do mourn,” Rev. Stinnet continued. “The loss of life is still very painful. The families who lost loved ones need our prayers and the continued comfort of the Gospel. The Good News of salvation in Christ is the only thing that can make sense of this kind of loss.”
Under the blessing of God, the EECMY and the International Lutheran Council have drawn increasingly close in recent years, with EECMY guests regularly in attendance at ILC events. The International Lutheran Council is a global association of confessional Lutheran church bodies which proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ on the basis of an unconditional commitment to the Holy Scriptures and to the Lutheran Confessions.
Prayer: Almighty God, merciful Father, Your thoughts are not our thoughts. Your ways are not our ways. In Your wisdom, You have permitted this tragic flooding to befall the people of Ethiopia. We implore You, let not the hearts of Your people despair nor their faith in You fail, but sustain and comfort them. Console the bereaved. Bring hope and healing. And guide the restoration work still to come, that Mekane Yesus Seminary would be equipped to continue to raise up faithful pastors to care for the Church in Ethiopia and proclaim the mercy of Christ. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.