Former Enemies Worship Together: The Ethiopian and Eritrean Fellowship Church

Even though the countries of Ethiopia and Eritrea were at war with each for years, one of Open Bible’s newest ethnic church plants is comprised of people from both countries.

The Ethiopian and Eritrean Fellowship Church was launched in 2014 in Des Moines, Iowa. It was officially granted affiliation with Open Bible on November 10, 2019, and is led by two elders, Sinishaw Itichi and Asmeret Fekadu. Three years ago the church needed a new meeting place. The elders contacted the leadership of First Church of the Open Bible in Des Moines, who graciously made space available to the church for worship.

War between Ethiopia and Eritrea began in 1998, leaving thousands of casualties on both sides. Because of both war and religious persecution, many people were forced to flee the area. Even though many languages are spoken in both countries and persecution is still prevalent in Eritrea, both countries share a common culture. The presidents of both nations are working together to heal the wounds of the past and improve relationships. Borders have been reopened, and families who have been separated for twenty years are being reunited. The members of the Ethiopian and Eritrean Fellowship have prayed for this reconciliation for years. Many in the church lost loved ones in the war.

When asked what his vision is for the church, Sinishaw Itichi responded, “My vision is to make disciples for Christ through proclaiming the gospel to all people, particularly the Ethiopian and Eritrean refugees and immigrants, to grow the church to Christ-likeness, and to serve our community in Des Moines and surrounding cities.”

Sinishaw Iticha and his wife, Edatu Hayato, are both from Ethiopia. They fled the country and lived in a refugee camp in Nairobi, Kenya, before arriving in the U.S. in 2013. The couple has three children. We thank the Lord for this vibrant and committed congregation and for its dedicated leadership.

About the Author

Paul Canfield and his wife, Vivian, served as missionaries to Mexico, El Salvador, and Guatemala. Upon returning to the U.S. Paul was elected as Director of Global Missions in 1979, a position he held until retirement in 2007. Upon retiring, Paul was appointed as the Ethnic Ministries Director for Central Region Open Bible Churches, a position he currently holds.

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