Ethiopia is a country with a strong Christian heritage dating back to the first century (Acts 8:26-39). It officially became a Christian nation around 330 A.D. Ethiopians often describe their country as a “Christian island in a Muslim ocean”. Around one-third of Ethiopia’s population are Muslims, and since the overthrow of the country’s Marxist government in 1991 there has been a gradual process of creeping Islamisation and a rise in the violent persecution of Christians.
In the last eight years, more than 2,000 church buildings have been burnt or demolished by Islamic extremists and over 5,000 Christians injured or killed. Christians are particularly vulnerable in areas where Muslims are in the majority. Sharia courts were first sanctioned in 1994, before being fully legalised in 1999. Large numbers of mosques and Islamic schools have been built, many of which promote radical Wahhabi Islam and were constructed with funding from Saudi Arabia. Churches which are not part of the Ethiopian Orthodox denomination are required to register with the government; a recent census recorded that 18.5% of Ethiopia’s population of around 100 million are evangelical Christians.
Ethiopia has the second largest population in Africa, and the country has been repeatedly hit by severe famines. The worst drought in 50 years was recorded in 2015, followed by floods which destroyed crops and livestock in large parts of the country, displacing an estimated 120,000 people. Ten million people who were recorded as being at risk of starvation in the last year.
Pray for all Ethiopians who have been affected by the most serious famine for decades. Give thanks that Barnabas Fund, through its Project Joseph, has been able to work with local churches to help some of the neediest; ask that God will send rain in due season and that the land will again yield crops (Leviticus 26:4). Pray that attempts to Islamise the country will be thwarted and that the church in Ethiopia will unite and stand up for righteousness and truth in the face of threats from Islamic extremists.