Ethiopian youths persecuted for evangelism

By August 27, 2015
(Photo courtesy of Open Doors USA)

(Photo courtesy of Open Doors USA)

Ethiopia (MNN) — [EDITOR’S NOTE: This is an article from Open Doors USA about a group of Ethiopian youths who were persecuted for sharing Christ. You can find other ways Open Doors is supporting persecuted believers around the world by clicking here.]

When a group of 15 Christian Ethiopian youths decided to join an evangelistic outreach to another town, they never anticipated that the journey could result in physical assault, arrest, incarceration, and restrictive penalties imposed on the local Christian community.

But that is exactly what happened to the Christian youths who traveled 267 miles from the capital of Addis Ababa to visit the eastern Ethiopian town of Karamile in a Muslim-dominated area of Oromia state last week to fellowship with other youths and engage in outreach.

Trouble started on the first day of their visit when a group of local people opposed their evangelistic efforts and physically assaulted two of the female members of the group. Police quickly intervened, but instead of taking action against the aggressors, they arrested and jailed all 15 of the visiting youths. Thankfully, the officials released them later in the day, after local church leaders intervened on their behalf and advocated for their release.

However, the local church leaders learned the next day that this incident would have much broader impact. Town administrators and security officers summoned all church leaders in Karamile to a meeting and ordered them to stop all evangelistic activities outside of the church.

The officials said the Christians could no longer talk to anyone about religion outside church premises. They also said that although the Christians had the right to pray privately in their homes with their families, they were not allowed to invite other people to such prayers.

These regulations are in conflict with the constitution of Ethiopia, which guarantees freedom of religion and protects freedom of expression without interference.

Church leaders in Karamile have asked Christians in the West to pray for them:

  • For wisdom for the church leaders as they consider how to respond to these restrictions.
  • That the town administrators and security officers would come to see that these restrictions are in conflict with the constitution and rescind the restrictions.
  • For the youths who were attacked and jailed. Pray that these developments will not cause them to become fearful, but that they will remain steadfast in the faith.
  • For full recovery of the two women who received bruises in the attack.

Ethiopia is ranked #22 on the 2015 Open Doors World Watch List (www.worldwatchlist.us) of the 50 worst persecutors of Christians.

*Representative photo used

6 Comments

  • These days there is no persecution related to personal belief and religion. As you witnessed even religious equality is stipulate in the constitution. So why do you explain as persecution is a wide spread practice in Ethiopia. you have exaggerated it very, very, very much. Those who objected the youths are individuals not the people or government bodies.

  • I’m an Ethiopian raised a Christian but an aetist now. I will tell you that your article is highly exaggerated. They probably just told them to stop trying to convert the local Muslim population, and got slapped around a bit as they always do because they insist on their own way only, talking about how they on a mission from God.
    And as if 60+ millions of Ethiopian Christians can’t pray, they ask westerners to pray? I have no sympathy for these people. Religion is not a “get out of jail free” card, and certainly does not allow you to break local customs and traditions. Muslims have the same problem in Christian dominated areas as well. Stop whining!

  • David says:

    This is another systematic attack by neo-liberal Anglo Protestants on the sovereign African country that refused to subdue to imperialism. Now you came in the name of religion. Oh you, oh you!

    Ethiopia is the only country in the world that multiple religions lived for thousands of years in harmony. Christian evangelical and Pentecostal groups are relatively the most recent in history but continued to be the fastest growing faiths and constituted an estimated 10 percent of the population. Established Protestant churches such as Mekane Yesus and the Kale Hiwot were strongest in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s Regional State (SNNPR), western and central Oromia, and in urban areas. In Gambella in the west, Mekane Yesus followers represented 60 percent of the population. The Evangelical Church Fellowship claimed 23 denominations under its religious umbrella.

    A large number of foreign missionary groups operate in the country. Protestant organizations that sponsored or supported missionary work included the Baptist Bible Fellowship, the New Covenant Baptist Church, the Baptist Evangelical Association, Mekane Yesus Church (associated with the Lutheran Church), Kale Hiwot Church (associated with Service in Mission), Hiwot Berhan Church (associated with the Swedish Philadelphia Church), Genet Church (associated with the Finnish Mission), Lutheran-Presbyterian Church of Ethiopia, Emnet Christos, Muluwongel (Full Gospel) Church, and Messerete Kristos (associated with the Mennonite Mission). Pentecostals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) also had active missionary operations.

    The constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respected this right in practice. The constitution requires the separation of state and religion and prohibits a state religion, and the Government generally respected these provisions in practice.

    The Government bans the formation of political parties based on religion. There are no religious political parties in the country.

    If at all anything happens to someone, I strongly believe it is based on the use of religion to underhandly execute political interest.

    Please refrain from blackmailing this beautifully created people and country, just to play your old political tactic!

    • Ruth Kramer says:

      David,

      Thank you for your response. We have sent your comments to Open Doors (the source for this story) and asked them to respond to your charges.

  • Selam says:

    This sort of persecution has been regular life of Ethiopian Christians wuite for some years, particularly Evangelical Christians. Historically, the persecution was from fellow Ethiopian Orthodox Christians but now from regional Muslim and ethnic leaders. It is fact, please continue to pray for them.

  • Elsa says:

    I am a living witness to this, i am just sad that this is still happening there. May God almighty listen to their prayers.
    God bless.

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