Christians Who Changed Their World: Abba Enbaqom

Ancient Christian communities in the Middle East today are under assault as never before by Islamic forces. At the same time, unprecedented numbers of Muslims are coming to faith in Jesus Christ as a result of dreams in which Issa (Jesus) appears to them. Although the pace at which these two trends are happening is accelerating, neither is a new phenomenon. Both are part of the life story of Abba Enbaqom, whose birth name was Abul-Fath.

Early years, conversion, and studies
Abul-Fath was born in Yemen to a Jewish mother and a noble father and was raised as a Muslim. Even as a young man he began to express doubts about his religion and began to investigate Islam and its literature. His doubts eventually alienated him from his parents. In 1489, he went to Ethiopia as a merchant, accompanying a freed Ethiopian captive. He stayed in northern Ethiopia for three years, and then moved south to the capital for two more years.

Be Like Jesus (Part 1)

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-2

From broken to beautiful
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Property Brothers. Cousins on Call. Love it or List It. If these titles ring a bell, you are probably – like me – a fan of the many home renovation programs on television. The hosts of these shows are all dedicated to helping people find their dream home – usually by transforming “extreme fixer-uppers” within a given budget and timeframe. As a homeowner, I enjoy seeing old, run-down homes – especially those with an ugly or outdated decor – changed into something both functional and beautiful. Even better, I pick up tips (the less expensive ones anyway) on how I can make my own home more livable and attractive.

Christians Who Changed Their World

Gebre Mesqel Lalibela (r.1181-1221)

Christianity comes to ancient Ethiopia
The Kingdom of Axum in what is now Ethiopia converted to Christianity in around 300 AD, under the influence of the missionary bishop Frumentius and Axum’s king Ezana. The Axumite kingdom continued as a Christian kingdom, though Muslim expansion into Egypt cut it off from its patriarchate in Alexandria and from the Latin West and the Byzantine Empire.

The Axumite kingdom came to an end when Gudit or Yodit (Judith) overthrew the king, attempted to exterminate the royal family, and set herself up as queen in 960. Little is known about her, though she might have been part of the Beta Israel, native Ethiopian Jews who date back to the period before Ezra. Alternately, she may have been a pagan. One way or another, she was no friend of Christianity: she destroyed churches and monuments and seems to have been bent on ending Christianity in the area.

Warps Need the Weft

For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time.”
1 Timothy 2:5-6 NLT

Warp Held by the Weft
In a tapestry, the warp is the set of threads that are held tight by the loom. The weft is that single, perpendicular, transverse fiber threaded in and out through the individual threads of the warp. Unless the one weft thread is woven in and out, under and over, through and throughout every individual warp fiber, the tapestry will not hold together.

The Gospel and the Avengers, Part 3

captainamerica1Summer action blockbusters aren’t exactly known for their profound ideas, but if we understand worldview, we can find interesting worldview ideas in the most unlikely places. This series has focused on one of the more popular recent franchises, the films involving the various Avengers in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In the previous articles, we saw how Thor demonstrated the triumph of Christian ideas of virtue over the pagan world, and how other films in the universe showed the influence of Just War Theory and the danger of unchecked power. In this article, we will wrap up by looking at the theme of self-sacrifice and the hope of redemption in the films.

In some ways, the idea of sacrificing yourself to save your friends (or the world) is the easiest and most obvious parallel to the Gospel. The idea of a character dead or presumed dead who comes back to life is a staple of stories ranging from The Lord of the Rings to a surprising number of Disney movies, where it serves as an easy source of pathos for the audience. Not surprisingly, it is also a major plot element in three Marvel films: Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, and The Avengers.

The Gospel and the Avengers, Part 2

captainamerica1Gospel truth in action movies
Even though movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe are intended to be action blockbusters, like all films they include worldview ideas and themes. This is the second article identifying some of the worldview ideas included in the films that point to the Gospel, whether this was consciously intended by the writers or not.

In the previous article, we looked at the impact of Christianity in transforming the concept of the hero. In the ancient world, heroes were warriors characterized by pride, arrogance, and skill at war; Christianity brought in a new ethic of humility, service to others, and using force only to protect the weak.

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