Standing Strong Through the Storm - Wednesday, August 28, 2013

GOD’S ETERNAL LOVE

“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” Jeremiah 31:3

Yesterday we learned the first prison lesson from Pastor Okuk Ojula who was incarcerated on false charges for three and a half years in a federal prison in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia.

When Jim Cunningham was able to visit him in the prison, he told Jim that before the prison experience, he had centered his life on serving the Lord, pursuing his education to the highest level (he has an MA in economics from the University of Reading-UK), doing research work and other good things to help people. But he had never thought of imprisonment as having any spiritual or practical value. He commented, “Time was very precious to me and I never thought of wasting it in prison sitting for nothing under a hostile situation.”

But God taught Pastor Okuk several lessons. The second one is that the depth of God’s love for us is eternal. He says, “I was in prison for my protection. God put me in prison beforehand to escape the massacre of the elites and the educated people of my tribe in the Gambella region—the incident of December 2003 that shook the media world.”

Genocide Watch reported that at least 416 Anuak people were massacred in December 2003 in Gambella led by Ethiopian government troops in uniform, but they were joined by other local tribal people from highland areas. Between 3000 and 5000 additional Anuak refugees fled into Sudan as refugees.

The pretext for these massacres was the ambush of a van on December 13th by an unidentified gang who murdered its eight occupants, who were U.N. and Ethiopian government refugee camp officials. There is no evidence that the killers were Anuak. The Ethiopian troops responded by murdering hundreds of Anuak civilians in Gambella and surrounding areas. They also burned their homes and raped the women.

Sources indicated that those targeted particularly were educated Anuak men; a tactic often intended to render a group leaderless and defenseless. To this day hundreds of Anuak Christians are still listed as “missing.”

Pastor Okok is convinced that his imprisonment in Addis was God’s love and protection because if he had been at home, he would have been a prime target because of his education.

RESPONSE: Today I will walk in the assurance of God’s love and His positive actions on my behalf even when they do not seem to be favourable.

PRAYER: Pray for those brothers and sisters experiencing injustice without the understanding of God’s purposes.

Standing Strong Through The Storm (SSTS), a daily devotional message by SSTS author Paul Estabrooks. © 2011 Open Doors International. Used by permission.

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