In Ethiopia, Mothers are Victims of ISIS Too

These stories bring home to us the personal suffering caused by what may just appear as more news statistics of men murdered by ISIS.

By Troy Augustine

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5/10/15 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – Our mothers are truly gifts from God. Today, on Mother’s Day, we pause to honor their selfless sacrifice in dedicating their lives to raise us. They have spent generous amounts of time and energy, and have even passed up promising opportunities in life so we could have a better future. But, no mother is ever prepared to endure the horror of losing her son, or of watching her two children grow up fatherless.

This Mother’s Day, two Ethiopian Christian moms are drowning in tears, overcome by sorrow because one’s son and the other’s husband were murdered at the hands of evil men. When Islamic terror group ISIS slaughtered a group of 30 Ethiopian and Eritrean Christian men, shown in a video they released April 19, Ayalkebetz Alemitu Belayenehe lost her son and Burtukan Getu lost her husband.

Former Teen Mom Grieving Her Lost Son

Belayenehe, 45, raised her son Ayalkebet Sinitayehu from age 15 in a six-by-nine-foot single-roomed shack in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa. The pair always struggled to make ends meet, but Belayenehe was always happy, even in poverty, because she at least had her son and they were always there for each other.

“All the time, I prayed for him. I suffered with him. I fought with all my might to raise him to be a good person. I worked hard as a father and mother for him,” Belayenehe said.

Belayenehe taught her son to always hope in Heaven, trusting in Jesus to provide for them in hard times. “As Christians, our resting place is Heaven,” she told him. “Don’t worry. Turn your heart towards Jesus and see what he can do for us.”

But Sinitayehu always yearned to improve his mother’s life.  Like any faithful son would, he planned to do whatever it would take to rescue her from poverty.

“’From my childhood, I was in her church and praying and serving God, but our life had not changed so far. I have to go to Europe to give you rest; you need to have a house. We need to change this longstanding poverty and we have to live as human beings,’” Belayenehe recalled her son saying. “I was not able to argue with him,” she conceded.

So Sinitiayehu left Ethiopia, crossing through Sudan and hoping to get to Europe, driven by a son’s love for his mother. But his mother had a bad feeling about the trip for weeks: “For the last one month my tears were dropping and I was not able to control it. My stomach was upset and I was expecting bad news.”

Sadly, Belayenehe’s worst fears came true. Her son was captured by ISIS in Libya and was shot to death with 14 other brothers in Christ in the Libyan desert. The news crushed his mother. “I was not expecting that this would happen all my life. I lost my beloved only son,” she mourned.

Still overcome with unimaginable grief, Belayenehe remembers her son’s faithful prayers. Prayers like the ones he offered up to God, just moments before He called Sinitayehu to his eternal rest.

“His only dream was changing our lifestyle. All the time, he tried to be good to everyone. From the video, I could tell that when his killer was at his back, he was praying just like he used to pray all the time,” relates Belayenehe.

A Mother Left to Raise Her Two Children by Herself

When Burtukan Getu, 27, heard the news that her fellow Ethiopian Christian brothers were killed by terrorists, she wept with the rest of her country. But she never expected that her husband, Birihanu Getanehe, was one of the victims.

“I did not believe Birihanu would try this dangerous journey because he loved his kids as God’s gift. But, I heard a rumor about our friend Ayalkebet [Sinitayehu], and I knew that by any means, he and [my] husband do not separate from each other,” Getu said.

From then on, Getu frantically searched to find news about her husband, fearing the worst.  Getanehe never told his wife about his plan to travel to Europe for work; all she knew was that he had reached Khartoum, Sudan. She had not heard from him in four months. “I lost all hope,” she said.

The only way she would certainly discover his fate was to painfully endure watching the terrible video to try and identify if he was one of the victims.

“From that time on, I lost control of myself,” Getu said. “I went to an internet cafe to see that horrifying video. Then I saw my husband and watched them shoot him. I lost all control there.”

The mother of an eight-year-old daughter and a five-year-old son who used to sell crafts depicting Bible verses with her husband at church was now suddenly left alone and her children without a father.

I am now with these two kids without a house, without support, without a single coin,” Getu lamented. “I don’t blame him for not telling me his big plan. His dream was to change our life conditions and he died for his kids’ future.”

Getu remains in great need without her primary bread-winner to support her and her children. Lacking her husband’s income, she can’t afford to send her children to school, and is desperately struggling to find hope.

“I am now in the middle of the dark. Ever since I saw the video, I am not able to pray,” she said.

On this day when we honor our mothers and give thanks to God for them, please remember the distress of these grieving moms who have given so much to raise their children. They have endured the greatest trials a mother could face and are left only with the hope of their Savior for whom their son and husband died.

International Christian Concern encourages all who are moved to help by praying and giving to ease the plight of these suffering Ethiopian mothers. We are working with these families and other ISIS victims to provide care in their most desperate time of need.

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