Obang’s prayer at the Solidarity symposium on:
"Where do we go from here?" in Washington
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Dear Almighty God,
We call on you today because you are our only hope
for the future. We come to you as people you have created,
but who have failed you. Yet, only because of your greatness,
love, mercy and goodness have you continued to stretch
out your arms to us, urging us to seek you and to turn
from our destructive ways.
We Ethiopians are in a desperate place, resulting from
our failure to listen to you. Instead, we have turned
away in rebellion, pride and self-reliance, thinking
we do not need you. But now, we are in the midst of
such a grave crisis that it threatens our very survival
as a people. We come to you for your help and guidance
in leading us out from the pit of despair, misery and
suffering—a pit that we have dug for ourselves.
We praise you and lift up your name in honor, for you
are our Creator and the Lord of all the earth. In you
is light and no darkness. You established the rules
and principles of this universe and they are holy, just
and good. All things are under your control. You have
created us in your image and established the value of
each life as precious in your sight. There is no other
like you in all the universe.
I thank you God for bringing us into this world at
this time of your choosing. You have not brought us
here by accident, but you have given each of us a responsibility
for our days ahead. To fulfill the highest of purposes
for our lives, we must be fully yours and live as you
have commanded us to do—loving you first and then
loving and protecting others as we do ourselves.
The people who feel the pain of
Dear Father, I thank you for those here today—Ethiopians,
our speakers and others who have come this afternoon
or who have joined us through Paltalk or via a radio
program aired later. You know each listener and I ask
you to bless and empower each of these people who have
heard the call to love each other, who want to make
the wrongs in our society right and who are choosing
to stand on the side of justice for all people. They
have heard the screaming of the suffering people and
did not shut their ears. They have seen the blood of
the wounded and did not block their eyes. They have
inhaled the scent of death and have come to tend to
the dying, hoping that more might live because of their
These are the people who feel the pain of others. There
are millions more Ethiopians in Ethiopia and throughout
the world who are like these Ethiopians here with us
today. They have heard your call and are seeking a way
to answer. Lord Almighty, we call on you to show them
Almighty God, we are asking you to bless this meeting
because you are the only one who really knows how things
work. You are the only one who knows our inner thoughts
and motives—whether they are evil or good. You
are the only one who can so easily bring down the plans
of those who think they can get away with carrying out
their plots against the weak.
You are the only one who can ease the pain of this
bleeding nation. We know we cannot do it alone for the
battle of Ethiopia is not a physical battle, but it
is a spiritual battle—one that we have no hope
of winning without you. We are asking you to bless us,
to guide us and to show us the way out.
We are your children, but in Ethiopia, the guns, the
money, the status, the education, the power—whether
we have it or do not have it—make us fail to understand
that we are your children. So we are coming here to
ask you to nourish and enlarge the solidarity that you
have already planted in our hearts.
We are stuck with no way out.
Lord, you know that the reason why we are having this
meeting is because we are stuck with no way out. Even
without talking about the politics of Ethiopia, we know
of the urgency to address the overwhelming hunger and
starvation of millions of Ethiopians.
The problem is so deep and widespread, with millions
starving, that we have no idea how to meet this great
need. Many are dying daily, not only in the rural areas,
but in the cities. We know you have resources beyond
what we can ask or imagine; yet, our government is denying
it and many of us do the same. This is just one of the
more serious problems.
We are in a crisis along many, many lines, but refuse
to acknowledge it. Ethiopia is like a hut that has caught
on fire. We can hear the crackling of the fire and smell
the smoke, but the family of Ethiopians inside the hut
are still sitting in the hut rather than rushing out
and together, dousing the fire with water. We take no
action and will all suffer, just because we refuse to
accept or work together with our family members you
have given to us.
It is you, O Lord, who set us in families and have
told us how we are to treat each other if we are to
have a great family—with respect, value, care
and appreciation, regardless of disagreements. If you
take Ethiopia as an example of a family, we can see
how unhealthy our family of Ethiopians has become.
In other words, Ethiopia today is not the example you
call us to be because of the animosity between us. Ethiopians
do not talk with each other, work with each together
or forgive each other. I pray Lord, that this day, you
help us to lay aside our prejudices, resentments and
biases in order to discover the solidarity that comes
when we can become one under you or at least work together.
Almighty God, we called this meeting for this purpose
and we want this kind of solidarity movement for a new
Ethiopia to come about, where we cease from demonizing
each other and instead, show each other grace. We know
that we must first expose ourselves to you and admit
to others what and who we really are—taking off
the sheet of pretense that covers up the long list of
negatives in Ethiopia—each of which is destroying
us from within. We must expose the truth about ourselves
if we are to be revived as a country and as a people.
O LORD, you and the whole world knows Ethiopia as a
place where people do not take care of each other. The
backbone of Ethiopia is broken and we have become paralyzed
and no one is around to help us get from one place to
Our consciences have become numb
from our apathy.
We have become numb by what we have seen—the
pain, the misery and the death. Our consciences have
become numb from our apathy or by our repeated participating
in the exploitation of our own people. Our towns and
cities are full of beggars and we cannot feed ourselves.
The starvation is killing our children. The list of
negative things is countless, but the sad thing is,
people do not talk about it.
The reasons are many-- false pride, worshiping leaders,
thinking we are number one in the world because we have
never been colonized, saying we are better than everyone
else, being so proud of our ancient rocks and 3000 year-old
civilization; but yet, for the last 2000 years, what
have we done? We are going backward rather than forward.
We repeatedly fail by putting our ethnicity before our
humanity and unfortunately, we are not getting better
but are actually getting worse. Please God, forgive
us and revive us!
I confess my own guilt and ask you to convict the souls
of the people to acknowledge their own guilt. We Ethiopians
have to repent and tell the truth, even if it hurts,
is embarrassing or shameful. You have taught us that
only the truth can set us free and we have lived a culture
of deception rather than of transparency and accountability.
Only the truth can allow us to love each other, appreciate
each other and care for each other as we should. Truth
is the only thing that will remove this sheet of deception
that has been covering the blood of our brothers and
sisters on the land of Ethiopia.
The negatives of Ethiopia are so great that the people
are either too numb or too ashamed to want to talk about
it. Yet, O Lord, you call us to repent, requiring us
to confess our emptiness, rebellion, wrongdoing and
alienation from you and from each other if we are to
move ahead and survive as a nation and a people. You
require that we expose the truth, to put our humanity
before our ethnicity and to live out the truth that
unless all are free, no one is free.
We acknowledge that we Ethiopians have an infected
wound and we are not doing anything about it. We have
an invisible sickness that is growing inside of us,
cutting off our veins, strangling our organs and threatening
to eventually make us collapse. Like clay, pottery or
eggs that fall to the ground, once we drop and disintegrate,
no matter how hard we try, we may not be able to put
Ethiopia back together again.
The image of Africa is the face
of life that no one wants.
O Father in heaven, what have we done wrong? Is it
a curse and can it be reversed? You are the God called
Creator that is known about in every tribe from every
corner of the earth where life exists because we can
see your work through what you created. Each of us has
enough evidence around us to know you as our Creator
God. It is you to whom I am calling and asking, “What
have we done?”
The image of Africa is the face of life that no one
wants. This is my appeal directly to you, O LORD, for
Ethiopia and for Africa. You know that our image is
of pain and unhappiness. When we look at Ethiopia, we
know that the powerful, the wealthy, the brilliant or
money from the West cannot solve this problem. The problems
are too vast and deep and require spiritual answers
and spiritual transformation.
I am calling on you, Almighty God, to hear me and to
answer my question of to why we have gone through so
much suffering as Ethiopians. It is true and obvious
that what we do to one another is wrong and behind much
of our hardship—the neglect of each other, the
hatred and the lack of appreciation of others is part
of the reason for the suffering and pain that is going
on in Ethiopia. We have suffered so long because of
the evil we have committed and because of nature—the
droughts, floods, diseases and other challenges. We
know all human beings have suffered, but as we look
at it today, it seems that the African or the black
race has suffered more than anyone.
Today, if you look at the image of suffering, the face
of the dying what you see is the face of the black.
If you look in America—in American churches, in
mosques or synagogues—in most of these if you
see a picture or poster calling people to help the poor
and those suffering, you always see the black child,
the black woman or a black face reflected in all of
these things. Why, Lord God? It must go back to the
continent of Africa.
I cannot say that the people of this continent are
lazy, without talent or immoral because I can see that
they are hardworking, intelligent and good people in
many ways, just like all the human beings you have created
in your image. So, what have we done wrong?
How come this richest of continents in the world has
become one that holds the poorest people in the world?
How come we fail to produce the leaders that will protect
and nurture us? Instead we have produced leaders that
exploit, oppress, destroy and kill us. How come? Is
this a curse?
Outsiders have used this continent for as long as we
can remember to enrich themselves. If you look at the
huge amount of wealth in this world that has come from
Africa, one wonders how we continue under such hardship.
We know that it is not only outsiders who see our resources
instead of our people. We know that it is also many
of our own people who forget about the people while
getting personally rich on the natural resources of
the land. Because the people are struggling to survive,
you know that they have little ability and few resources
to resist those who exploit the land. Lord, you decry
such exploitation repeatedly in the Holy Scriptures.
Dear God, please work in our lives and in our hearts
because we have failed as a people. We are asking you
God to touch and change our hearts, but we do not want
to stop there. We also ask you to change the hearts
of outsiders who contribute to our oppression and suffering,
sometimes without knowing the stories of the people,
but you, O God, know our stories.
The change must take place in individual
Dear Lord, please take this curse from us. We pray
that you lift it off from us and replace it with a blessing.
We plead for your mercy, forgiveness and blessings.
We pray that we become known for our faith and for the
way we follow you with great devotion rather than as
poster children for misery.
Dear Father, we have failed as human beings and our
failure is visible in by how we fail to protect and
care for each other. It is obvious that the work ahead
of us is too big of a task for us without your help.
If it were only a physical task we could try to do it,
but what we need is a spiritual and moral transformation
that permeates our society.
The change must take place in individual souls as you
bring us to new life. But this life must not linger
there alone, but instead we know you want us to share
it with others. That is why we ask you to “Revive
Ethiopia” one person at a time, but multiplying
with first a small ripple and which then becomes a huge
wave of change across the nation.
Dear LORD, we know that there is no earthly medication
we can take to fix our illness for the medication we
need is spiritual and the cure must come from within,
through the purification only you can give to our souls.
Unless we are all free, none of
us will be free.
May you, O God, change our hearts, for once our hearts
change, we can become the people you want us to be.
That will change how we treat ourselves, our neighbors,
our towns, our cities and our nation.
May you, O God, also change the hearts of those outside
Ethiopia and Africa so there would be a reactivation
of their consciences so that outsiders would not come
to Africa only to take the resources and discard the
people, but that they would bring with them genuine
solutions and partnerships based on values of compassion,
equality, justice and respect towards all people.
This is what I mean by calling on you God to really
do the work in our hearts. Please dear God, please do
not abandon us. Please dear God, do not forget us. Guide
us as we struggle to get out from this pit—from
this tunnel of darkness until we are free and living
in the brightness of your light.
We are asking you to reach out to each one of us, reminding
us that unless we are all free, none of us will be free.
Remind us that the value of our humanity is of much
greater value than anything else for you created humanity
before you created tribes and ethnicities. We are asking
you for your help because none of us will have justice
unless we learn to give justice. We know you are a God
who loves justice because you love all people. Let this
truth penetrate the hearts and minds of Ethiopians so
Ethiopia can be revived.
Let this same message reverberate throughout Africa
so that Africa can be revived so completely that we
become a blessing to others as you work your out your
will and purposes through us. Humankind cannot do it
alone or we create false gods who end up destroying
When we have money, we can trust in our money and it
becomes our god. When we have power, we can trust in
power and it becomes our god. When we have guns and
military power, we can become our own god and forget
about pleasing and trusting in you. When we have anger
and bitterness, these can become our gods and we lose
the image of you and try to become our own god. Forgive
us for giving up so much—you—for so little
in return. Help us to recognize you as the only true
God from whom we have hope and a future.
All else are lies and deceptions and we have no excuse
for we know we did not create ourselves. The wealthy
did not create themselves. The best educated did not
create themselves. The most powerful of rulers of nations
did not create themselves. Our breath and our heartbeat
has come from you, O Lord, our only Creator God, nothing
else, nothing artificial, nothing temporary, no illusion,
but only you.
We acknowledge that we are not our own and we ask you,
O Lord, to remind each of us that you not only created
each of us, but you created the air that sustains us
with every breath we take. That same air flows between
people, villages, towns, cities, countries and continents.
We may look at it that we are not here to protect others,
but you God have demonstrated that our existence and
our dependence on your provision is the same. You are
the creator and none of us can claim that we are God.
How do we lift that curse? O Lord, we do not know,
but we trust that as we lift our eyes to you, obeying
your call to live our lives for you, that you will graciously
teach us how to become a blessing to others.
May we humbly seek your face, O LORD, and honor you
by bringing gifts to you on your Holy hill, by becoming
a people, a nation and a continent that is a blessing
to the world. In the name of Jesus Christ in the Bible,
also known as Isa in the Qur’an, who was our example,
our atonement and the only way to you, I pray. Amen
For more information please contact
me by email at: Obang@anuakjustice.org
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