Hope dims for two believers as false charges have repeatedly imprisoned them. (Photo courtesy Open Doors USA)
Ethiopia (MNN) ― Open Doors USA reports that despite the success of a recent appeal, two jail-bound evangelists have yet to taste freedom. Today they'll appear in court to answer new false charges.
At the beginning of October, a judge ordered the release of Ethiopian evangelists Temesgen Alemayehu and Tigist Welde Amanuel after a $40 USD fine had been paid. However, more false charges are keeping the believers behind bars, says Compass Direct News.
New charges filed by fellow inmates accuse Alemayehu and Almanuel of "insulting the Ethiopian Orthodox Church (EOC) while in prison." While appearing before the court regarding their previous sentence's reduction, Compass says prison inmates filed a petition accusing the believers of insulting the EOC. Sources believe EOC members both inside and outside the prison formed the false charges.
In July, the evangelists were imprisoned on false charges of bribery. Attacked by a group spurred on by the words of a previous argument, significant wounds were inflicted on Alemayehu while Almanuel suffered only minor injuries. Sources tell Compass the EOC provided false witnesses to testify against the believers in their July 22 court hearing.
Three months' imprisonment has taken a toll on the believers. Alemayehu suffers from kidney infections. Sources state that he sought permission for treatment but was denied by prison officials. Pray for their health to improve.
According to Compass, the July 19 attack was incited by members of the "Mahibere Kidusan" or "Fellowship of Saints." This group exists to oppose all movements of reform within the EOC and shield the church from "outside threats." Evangelical churches within Ethiopia are monitored; Ethiopian believers experience opposition from Orthodox Christians and radical Muslims. Most Orthodox Christians belong to the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church.
Despite diminishing health conditions, a judge decided to keep the pair in prison until they appear before the court today. Sources say this recent turn of events crushed the believers' hopes of being released.Please continue to pray for these believers' release and for the safety of evangelicals throughout Ethiopia.