New charges crush the hopes of jailed evangelists

By October 14, 2009

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.

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