Ethiopia, is the second most populous nation of the African continent, with many ethnicities and languages.
Ethiopia officially accepted Christianity in the fourth century. It remains the dominant religion, but Islam is followed by about a third of the population. Ethiopian Christians look back to the Ethiopian eunuch, who was led to the Lord by the apostle Philip, as the first Ethiopian believer (Acts 8:26-39).
Recent years have seen periodic violent attacks on Christians. In late June 2020 violence erupted again, in which hundreds of Christians of many ethnicities were brutally slaughtered by members of Qeerroo (meaning “bachelors”), a male youth movement of the Oromo ethnic group. The killings were apparently coordinated and Islamist-inspired; some of the Qeerroo carried lists of named individuals to find and kill – individuals who were actively involved with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.
One Oromo Christian was beheaded for refusing to deny his faith by tearing off the thread around his neck, a sign of his baptism. Police at first stood by as the murders unfolded and some local authorities assisted the militants to find Christians. Christian businesses and homes were burnt down, vandalised or destroyed by the extremists.
In 2018, Abiy Ahmed, a Christian from a Muslim background, became Ethiopia’s first Oromo Prime Minister. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019 for his efforts to resolve a conflict between Ethiopia and its neighbour Eritrea, which had seceded from Ethiopia in 1993 after a long war.
Oromo media mogul and Muslim activist, Jawar Mohammed, provoked unrest in October 2019, when he criticised the government. Violent protests ensued leading to 67 deaths. Around the same time, two pastors were beheaded in Sebeta, Oromia region, and many churches were burnt.
Ask the Lord to give Prime Minister Abiy wisdom, insight and strength as he seeks to lead Ethiopia from division to unity. Pray for an end to anti-Christian violence, comfort for the grieving, healing for the wounded, and food and shelter for the displaced.
The above content can also be found in the Praying for the Persecuted Church (2021-2022) booklet