What does persecution look like in Ethiopia?
The level of freedom Christians have in Ethiopia depends on where you live and what kind of Christian you are. The country is one of the world's oldest majority-Christian countries, but most of these believers belong to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church (EOC), which can itself persecute Christians who leave the EOC for evangelicalism or other Protestant denominations. Families and communities who are part of the EOC may also pressure (or mistreat) a Christian who has chosen a non-traditional Christian expression. Because the EOC has many supporters in the government, converts also risk pressure from state officials, especially in Regional State and lower-level government workers outside of larger cities.
However, the most overt forms of persecution happen in areas dominated by Islam. In these regions, converts to Christianity can face social ostracism and church attacks by Islamic militants. Families and communities may pressure converts and use violence against them to recant and return to Islam.
Finally, the ongoing conflict in Ethiopia has shown how vulnerable Christians truly are. Though the infamous fighting in Oromia and Amhara seems to lack a religious dimension, yet, Christians are killed in some circumstances.
Who is most vulnerable to persecution?
Ethiopian Christians who convert from Islam are most vulnerable to violence and oppression. Christians who become evangelicals or Pentecostals and leave the Ethiopian Orthodox Church also experience pressure and abuse.
We were thrown out of our home. So, I took my children and left. [My in-laws] called me worthless, an infidel. They told me that nobody loved me and that there was nowhere for me to goWorke, a believer in Ethiopia who was raised as a Muslim
What has changed this year?
Not much has changed in Ethiopia this year, as believers continue to face high levels of pressure for their faith and in certain regions, some levels of violence. Though the conflict in Tigray was supposed to end in late 2022, a September 2023 UN report suggests that atrocities there are still ongoing. This is alarming, as it indicates believers may still be forced to fight in the bloody war.
What does Open Doors do to help Christians in Ethiopia?
Open Doors works through the local church to strengthen Christians in Ethiopia with leadership, persecution survival training and economic empowerment projects.
How can you pray for Ethiopia?
- Pray especially for evangelical converts from Islam and the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. They can be pressured by family and community.
- Ask God to protect converts who may face threats and pressure for following Jesus.
- Pray that God would protect Open Doors’ work with local churches in Ethiopia.
Heavenly Father, we pray for our brothers and sisters in Ethiopia. We pray that You would protect and sustain Your people there—particularly those who are at risk because they've chosen to follow You. We pray for an end to violence, and that our brothers and sisters won't be required to fight in unjust wars. We pray for those Christians who have been rejected or abused by their families; help them to know that, in the Holy Spirit, they belong to a much bigger Family. In Jesus' mighty name, Amen.