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Ethiopia

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Children at a Barnabas-supported
school in Ethiopia

Ethiopia has considered itself a Christian country since the fourth century, and its Christian roots are sometimes traced back to the Ethiopian eunuch who met Philip on the road while reading the book of Isaiah (Acts 8:26-40). Today it is the only Christian-majority country in the Horn of Africa, surrounded by a “sea” of Islam.

Islam first came to Ethiopia in 615 AD when a small group of Muhammad’s early followers fled there to escape persecution in Mecca. Ethiopia was considered a place of safety, and numerous Muslims followed in this first hijra (migration), living peacefully among the Christians. This relationship changed in the succeeding centuries as Islam began to spread throughout Africa and developed a negative attitude to Christians.

Muslims comprise around a third of the Ethiopian population and have generally lived quite peacefully with the Christian majority. However Muslim extremism has become increasingly influential in Ethiopia, as Islamists (for example, from Afghanistan and Somalia) come into the country to spread anti-Christian teaching and discourage local Muslims from having any contact with Christians. In addition, money from external Islamic sources has been used to build mosques and Muslim schools.

In addition, Muslims are becoming increasingly radicalised by preachers who are promoting aggressive forms of Islam from countries such as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. One Christian leader said that Ethiopia was being targeted by Muslim fanatics with a strategy to Islamise the country and there was a campaign to “clear Christianity from the land by [the] sword”. A four-fold plan to Islamise the area was outlined at an Islamic conference: burn the churches, kill the men, marry the widows and send their children to Islamic schools. Yet in this context, Muslims are also coming to Christ.

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    • Give thanks that members of a Pakistani Christian family who have been trapped in bonded labour for years have been rescued by Barnabas partners. The owner of the brick kiln where they worked had kept them enslaved by withholding their wages and forcing them to take out a loan from him. When they tried to leave, he made them return, and he beat, tortured and threatened to kill them. The father of the family died in 2013 as a result of illness and weakness. But earlier this year, his widow sought help from our partners, and they obtained a court order for the recovery of the family. Pray for the three members who have already been rescued as they recuperate at a safe house. Pray too for the efforts to secure the freedom of six others still held by the owner. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 15 hours ago

    • About 1,500 Christians staged a protest in Lahore, Pakistan in June 2014 over the grabbing of church-owned property by the government of Punjab. Over ten large properties, including a church, schools, hospitals and graveyards, have been taken. Christian leaders met with the Lahore District Coordination Officer on 15 June to demand the return of the latest school to be seized, but when they failed to get a positive response, Christian protestors took to the streets. Pray that the provincial government will respect the property rights of the churches. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Thu, Aug 2014 00:00

    • Praise God that Pakistan’s Supreme Court has instructed the government to take specific steps to protect religious minorities from violence and intolerance. The ruling was issued partly in response to the deadly attack on All Saints Church in Peshawar in September 2013, which claimed over 100 lives. The court ordered the formation of a National Council for Minority Rights, a special police force to protect places of worship, and a taskforce to develop strategies to counter intolerance, along with further corrective measures. Campaigners for the rights of Christians in Pakistan welcomed the moves but expressed reservations about whether they would be implemented. Pray that the measures will achieve a tangible improvement in the condition of the country’s Christians. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Wed, Aug 2014 00:00

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