May 15, 2019
Offering camel milk to greet a stranger is not unusual for the Afar people. It is served in a shallow dish. Refusing it would be rude.
Traditions are important to the Afar, who live in the lowlands in the triangle of Djibouti, Eritrea and Ethiopia. Heat and drought characterise the daily life of this people who move with their herds from one feeding place to the next. Originally, the Afar were feared as relentless warriors. As proud Muslims they had defended their country for centuries.
Since national borders divide their territory and several wars have occurred, the approximately 1.6 million Afar have been marginalised. Drought and water shortages push them into the slums of the few cities. Here, these formerly proud shepherds and warriors live as a minority among other ethnic groups. They no longer have political influence and self-determination.
Many decades ago the gospel reached the Afar. The Bible has been translated into their language. Nevertheless, it seemed that the Good News did not penetrate people’s hearts. But amazing things have happened in the last few years and now several Afar follow Jesus. Through dreams and visions, they have come to faith, but prejudice and tribalism make it difficult for these believers to seek community among themselves. Trust must grow and the knowledge that in the family of God all belong together. New believers face persecution by family and the state. Nevertheless they courageously pass on the gospel.
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