Tuesday Mar 24, 2020

Tsehay Tolessa and Gudina Tumsa, the Ethiopian Bonhoeffer

Following on our last two episodes exploring the Lutheran doctrine of the "two kingdoms," in this one we dive deeply into the life of two extraordinary Ethiopian Lutherans. Gudina Tumsa was a pastor and the General Secretary of the Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus until his assassination by the communist Derg regime in 1979. His wife Tsehay Tolessa, an active evangelist, was arrested after his death, tortured, and imprisoned without trial or sentence for ten years. Only after the fall of the regime was Gudina's death confirmed and his body identified, exhumed, and given a Christian burial.

In addition to discussing their remarkable life stories and witness to Christ, we delve into Gudina's writings during his time of leadership in the ECMY, including his reflections on ecclesiology, wholistic mission, and the role of a Christian in public life, especially when faced with a hostile government. The parallels to Dietrich Bonhoeffer's life and witness earned Gudina the moniker "the Ethiopian Bonhoeffer," and he and Tsehay alike deserve wider renown.

One other item: we hit a milestone in the life of every podcast with this episode, namely, the Technical Glitch. As a result, the sound quality is poorer than usual. We apologize and have exorcised the relevant demons from the equipment, and expect that from now on the sound will be up to its usual standards.


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1. The book mentioned in the episode is The Life, Works, and Witness of Tsehay Tolessa and Gudina Tumsa, the Ethiopian Bonhoeffer, edited by me (Sarah) and my friend Samuel Yonas Deressa.

2. You can also read some of the papers of the Journal of the Gudina Tumsa Forum here and here (I have a paper in the latter).

3. Gudina Tumsa Foundation on Facebook and US branch of the Gudina Tumsa Foundation

4. Original English translation of Dietrich Bonhoeffer's The Cost of Discipleship

5. Dad wrote an entry on "Martin Luther in Karl Marx" for The Oxford Encyclopedia of Martin Luther

More about us at sarahhinlickywilson.com and paulhinlicky.com!

Comments (1)

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Excellent summary of these two and words that testify to us while modeling Christian living in our modern worid. with all it's calls to difusion and dilution of the proclamation of Christ.

Monday Apr 06, 2020

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