Written by Quentin
Carla and Quentin’s plan for Sunday, February 12th was to go with Oliver, the Foreign Affairs Director of ITC, to attend an English language church service at Trinity Reformed Baptist Church. However, after getting ready and going downstairs to wait for him, we received a message by WhatsApp that the roads around Oliver’s home were closed and he could not leave his neighborhood. We debated striking out on our own, but decided against it since we are not familiar with the city and did not know what we kind of situation we might find ourselves in. There were rumors of protests taking place that day, the street in front of our guest house was eerily quiet, and our access to Facebook and other social media sites was blocked. So, we stayed put and had a day to rest and reflect on the training we completed with the ITC seminary students on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
What we discovered about our students over the three days we were working with them is that over half of them are refugees from Eretria. Eretria is a small country just to the north of Ethiopia and lays between Ethiopia and the Red Sea. According to Operation World “it has a terrible record on human rights and press freedoms, accompanied by an obsession with military power and control. This includes religious freedom since a 2002 government ruling banned all religious groups from meeting together and practicing their faith without official recognition, and it granted recognition only to Sunni Islam, Eritrean Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Evangelical Lutheran groups. The effects of this on all Eritreans are significant, especially so on Christians within non-approved groups.” This is one of the reasons there are an estimated 100,000 Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia.
At least two of our Eritrean students were pastors, one was a choir director, one was a singer, and one was a family and marriage conselor. In talking to them we found out that they believe that the education system in Eritria is corrupt and that “it will never give them a light to understand the purpose of God”. Therefore they were glad to learn about the kind of Christian education that is presented in the PS78 Teacher Education Program so that “there will be a generation who will florish in the light of the word of God and in every demention of their lives.” We look forward to continuing to work with some students from Eritria as they enroll in our online teacher education program and training them so that they can one day take this program back to Eritrea and train additional Christian teachers there.