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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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    • Denis Yenenko, a Christian father of three in Sergeyevka, Kazakhstan, was jailed for six days in April for refusing to pay a fine imposed on him for leading worship at an “illegal meeting”. Denis and his fellow-Christian Sergei Lantsov were each ordered to pay around a month’s average wages for “participation in the activity of an unregistered, halted or banned religious community or social organisation”. Another 33 Christians from the same denomination, which refuses in principle to ask state permission for their activities, were fined in the first ten weeks of this year for exercising their right to religious freedom. Pray for strength and perseverance for our brothers and sisters as they worship and witness for Christ under oppressive restrictions. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 18 hours ago

    • Our God and Father, we praise You for calling to faith a 13-year-old boy in Tajikistan through the teaching of “Aigul”, a Barnabas- funded Christian worker, and that he has now led his Muslim mother to Christ too. We thank You for his witness to his mother: “He told me that all people are sinful and me too. He told me what I need to do so that God can forgive my sins.” We pray that You will establish them both in their new faith, and that the rest of their family will also put their trust in Jesus. We pray especially for her brother, an Islamic leader, that he will stop trying to prevent them from meeting with other Christians. We thank You for Aigul’s fruitful ministry and pray that You will continue to bless it. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Thu, Jul 2014 00:00

    • In some countries, Christian-run ministries are not safe from official opposition even when they provide a vital service to the community. A homeless shelter run by Aleksei Shchedrov, a young Christian man in Belarus, has been stripped of its legal status after what appears to be a campaign of harassment by the authorities. Aleksei was originally charged with leading an unregistered religious organisation, because there is a prayer room at the shelter. These charges were dropped, but during a series of inspections, fault was found with the shelter’s facilities, and the ministry was closed down on 7 February. Give thanks that Aleksei has continued to care for the shelter’s residents since it was officially closed, and pray that they will not end up back on the street. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Wed, Jul 2014 00:00

    • Pray for churches and Christian organisations in Russia that are facing harassment from the authorities, which appears to be intended to shut them down. In March, a church in St Petersburg lost its appeal against liquidation; the authorities had falsely accused it of running a programme of general education, which as a religious organisation it is not entitled to do. As a result, the church has lost its right to own or rent property. Various church-run drug and alcohol rehabilitation centres have also been threatened with prosecution or closure. Pray that the Russian authorities will recognise the positive contributions of the churches to educational, social and charitable work and will leave them alone to carry out their ministries in peace. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Tue, Jul 2014 00:00

    • A church building in Kazliçeşme, Turkey, was broken into and vandalised by a group of thugs on Sunday 23 March. The attackers forced their way in through the front door and stole some items, including the church bell. A church worker on site sought refuge at a nearby police station but said that the officers on duty refused to intervene. The offenders were apparently linked to the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party. Christians in Turkey are widely regarded with suspicion or outright hostility. Pray that the congregation will not be intimidated by this attack and will maintain their ministry and mission. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Mon, Jul 2014 00:00

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