Guest / Limited Access /

The healthy infant boy's top teeth came in before his bottom teeth. For this, elders of the Kara tribe in Ethiopia's primitive Omo River region determined that the child must die.

The child was mingi—"cursed" according to superstition. With every breath, the elders believed, the boy was beckoning an evil spirit into their village. It was the sacrifice of one child for the good of the entire tribe, a rite that elders had witnessed for untold generations.

Less clear was what to do about the boy's dead twin. After some debate and an examination of goat intestines, the elders decided the dead twin must have been mingi too. They dug up the corpse, bound it to the living boy, paddled a canoe into the center of the swiftly moving Omo River, and threw them both into the cold, brown waters.

That was five years ago. Several years ago, regional officials had begun taking action—threatening prison for those complicit in mingi killings. But at best, officials are equipped to step in only after a child has been murdered. So, in the villages of southern Ethiopia, a region the size of Texas with few roads or infrastructure, a few concerned tribespeople started an orphanage for cursed children. Yet the orphanage is mired in controversy, and meanwhile, few have challenged the underlying fear of mingi.

But one small band of Christians in one tribe, along with other supportive Christians, has pledged to protect these cursed children until mingi is no more. They are determined to show tribal elders that there is something "stronger than mingi"—the power of Jesus Christ. Earlier this year, I traveled to the hard-to-reach Ethiopian river valley to hear their story.

Modern-Day Child Sacrifice

Bona Shapo, a tribal elder, took me to where ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedStudy: Where Are the Women Leading Evangelical Organizations?
Study: Where Are the Women Leading Evangelical Organizations?
That's the mystery the Gender Parity Project, whose results debut this weekend, sets out to solve.
TrendingDeconversion: Some Thoughts on Bart Campolo’s Departure from Christianity
Deconversion: Some Thoughts on Bart Campolo’s Departure from Christianity
Bart Campolo's departure from Christianity–some reflections about faith and (our) families.
Editor's PickThe Case Against 'Radical' Christianity
The Case Against 'Radical' Christianity
Michael Horton's message to restless believers: Stay put, and build the church.
Comments
Christianity Today
Ethiopia's River of Death
hide thisAugust August

In the Magazine

August 2011

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.