Suffering for Christ: unfortunate or opportune?

By May 19, 2015
(Photo courtesy Open Doors USA)

(Photo courtesy Open Doors USA)

Ethiopia (MNN) — If you were unjustly thrown in jail, would you cry out and ask God why He was doing this to you? Or would you see it as an opportunity to share Christ in a new environment?

Seven Ethiopian Christians chose the second option, and Open Doors USA encouraged them to stay strong in the midst of suffering for Christ.

Open Doors UK reported three leaders and four church members were arrested on April 25 during a baptism for 40 new believers. The believers were accused of holding illegal meetings in secret locations,  which the church denied.

Though Ethiopia’s constitution gives people freedom of religion, the law requires churches and Christian groups to have written permission to meet.

An anonymous source told Open Doors UK, “They have informed government officials about their ministry and their meetings both orally and in writing.”

Nevertheless, the seven believers were thrown in jail. The source said, “The overall situation in the prison is very difficult. More than 168 inmates are stuffed into one small space. The Christians each have just enough space to lie on their sides at night. One of them has to sleep in the area they use as a toilet.”

For nine days, they endured these conditions before their first hearing on May 4. At the hearing, the police asked for an extension for their investigation, and the judge granted one week.

Despite injustice, persecution, and filthy conditions, these believers trusted God and spoke of Christ while they were in the prison.

The leader of the group told Open Doors UK, “God is in control. We consider ourselves lucky to suffer for Christ in this way. We have not faced death, like many others have. We maintain our peace and will remain calm. We are at work.”

Open Doors USA encouraged them and reported many outside the prison were praying fervently for them as well. “It was as if you were jailed with us,” the leader said.

A second hearing was held on May 11, and the police asked for a second extension to gather information. However, the judge denied the request, saying they had enough time to investigate already.

By God’s grace, the seven believers have been released!

“Please tell those who prayed for us that we have overcome the bigger enemy now,” the leader told Open Doors USA. “Satan wanted to frighten us, but we came out stronger from jail than when we entered. We are also happy to know that there are people surrounding us to pray and encourage us.”

Pray For:
• These Christians to inspire others to stay strong in their faith.
• Fellow inmates who heard the Gospel in prison to come to Christ.

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