For more on my Lenten Focus, see my Ash Wednesday post. A quick summary is that I am spending Lent fasting and praying for the Persecuted Church, and I invite you to join me.
The Church in Ethiopia is one of the oldest churches, and probably the first church established outside Judea and Samaria. We read about it’s founding in Acts 8 when an angel sent Philip to the Ethiopian eunuch on the road from Jerusalem to Gaza. But like most of North Africa, today it is plagued by political upheaval and instability, as well as violence from Islamic extremists.
Ethiopia is Africa’s oldest independent country and is second largest in population. It is also one of the poorest, having suffered a series of famines in recent decades. Following a revolution in 1974, Ethiopia installed a socialist government that remained in power until 1991. Recently, Muslims have launched massive campaigns to Islamize Ethiopia by penetrating Christian areas with bribes and mosque-building programs. The government has taken a hardline approach against terrorism and Muslim extremists, dismissing and even jailing some imams, closing an Islamic school, and using government force to stop all protests. After the sudden death of the country’s powerful prime minister in August 2012, he was replaced by Deputy Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, the first peaceful transition of power in decades.
Although Ethiopia is a predominantly Christian nation, Christians in Muslim areas often experience mistreatment and discrimination. The Ethiopian provinces of Arsi, Bale and Jima and the regional states of Harari and Somali are Muslim-dominated areas in which Christian activities are severely restricted; Christians have been imprisoned and killed in these areas. The government has warned citizens about increased militant attacks throughout Ethiopia, and a roadside bomb near Addis Ababa killed four people in November 2013. In the past, members of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church (EOC) have harassed evangelical Christians. The EOC’s influence reaches to government levels, and the state sometimes persecutes evangelicals. Increasingly, however, the Orthodox Church is working with the evangelical church.
- For Muslim Background Believers who are under immense pressure for their refusal to return to Islam
- The government is squeezing basic freedoms; pray that Christians will have the freedom to worship without threats from all sides
- Pray that the rise in Islamic extremism will lessen in 2015 and Christians will reach out to those who are suffering persecution in silence
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