Serving Persecuted Christians Worldwide - Ethiopia - Open Doors UK & Ireland

Ethiopia

World Watch ranking: 38
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Leader
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed

How many Christians?
69.2 million (60%)

Main threats
  • Christian denominational protectionism
  • Islamic oppression

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How many Christians are there in Ethiopia?

Almost 70 million people in Ethiopia identify as Christian, making it the majority religion in the country.

How are Christians persecuted in Ethiopia?

In Ethiopia, converts to Christianity from Islam and those who join Protestant groups from the Ethiopian Orthodox Church (EOC) are equally susceptible to mistreatment from families and communities.

In some places, Islamic extremist groups have attacked churches. Meanwhile, political violence in the country – especially in Tigray – has also taken its toll on Christian communities, with many Christians killed and churches destroyed. The country has also been gravely affected by drought and plagues. These issues create uncertainty, making Christians a soft target. 

Pressure can also come from the government. Where Muslims or Ethiopian Orthodox Christians are the majority, local officials may oppose the growth of Protestant Christianity and refuse to grant permits for activities.

Meet 'Roda'

“From now on, I will bow down to the Messiah, the One who has saved me.” Roda, a persecuted Christian in Ethiopia

What’s life like for Christians in Ethiopia?

In Ethiopia, deciding to leave Islam for Christianity carries enormous risk – as Roda* can testify. She comes from a staunchly Muslim background in Djibouti. On becoming a Christian, she kept it from her family, knowing they would not approve. She moved with her husband to Ethiopia.

On returning home for a funeral – her first visit back home – Roda made an enormously brave decision. Fully aware that she would be surrounded by Muslims, she wore a gold necklace with a cross hanging from it. “What is that necklace you are wearing?” people asked. “Are you a Christian?”

“Yes, I am a Christian,” she boldly responded. “This is not a religion but a way of life.”

One day, her brothers arrived to issue an ultimatum: “You must repent or we have to kill you.” But Roda boldly stood firm, and remarkably she was not killed. But her family abandoned her, bitter at the shame they feel she has brought to the family.

Today, Roda lives with her husband, Tesfaye, and three children in Ethiopia, where your support has enabled her to start two businesses.

*Name changed for security reasons

Is it getting harder to be a Christian in Ethiopia?

Broadly speaking, pressure on Christians in Ethiopia has intensified, despite the country dropping two places on the World Watch List. Opposition has increased in family, church and community life. While there has been a drop in recorded incidents of violence, this must be understood in the context of ongoing conflicts – such as the fighting in Tigray – where it's difficult to differentiate between faith and ethnic/political related attacks.

How can I help Christians in Ethiopia?

Please keep praying for your brothers and sisters in Ethiopia. Your gifts and prayers make an enormous difference to those following Jesus no matter the cost.

Open Doors works through local partners to strengthen Christians in Ethiopia with leadership and persecution survival training, economic empowerment projects and skills training. 

please pray

Lord Jesus, bring peace and stability throughout Ethiopia, and provide rain to cover arid ground caused by drought. Protect pastors and evangelists serving you in hostile environments; may they see Your power breaking through. Help those facing intense pressure to renounce their faith to stand strong in Your love and provision. Thank You that many people are coming to know You in Ethiopia; we pray this will continue through the powerful witness of Your church. Amen.

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