Ethiopia

World Watch Ranking: 38

How many Christians are there in Ethiopia?

60 per cent of Ethiopians are Christian – that’s 69 million people. Sadly, many Ethiopian Christians are persecuted by fellow Christians if they belong to a different denomination.

What does persecution look like in Ethiopia?

In Ethiopia, it’s not just converts to Christianity from Islam who can face harsh mistreatment from their families and communities, it’s also those who join Protestant groups from the Ethiopian Orthodox Church (EOC).

In some places, Islamic extremist groups have attacked churches. Meanwhile, political violence in the country—focused largely around the conflict 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. All these issues create uncertainty, making Christians a soft target.

Pressure can also come from the government. In areas where Muslims or Ethiopian Orthodox Christians are in the majority, local officials may oppose the growth of Protestant Christianity and refuse to grant permits for meetings and worship.

Who is most vulnerable to persecution?

The severity and form of persecution varies by region. For example, Christians in Amhara and Tigray are especially vulnerable to persecution from the Ethiopian Orthodox Church (EOC), whereas in places like Oromia, Afar and the Somali region persecution largely stems from Islamic extremists. The most severe cases of persecution tend to come in Gurage, Silte and Alaba, which are just south of the capital Addis Ababa.

Meet 'Roda'

Roda became a Christian after attending Bible studies. She boldly declared her new faith by wearing a necklace that had a cross on it. The persecution began, but Roda continues to bravely stand firm in her faith.

"From now on, I will bow down to the Messiah, the One who has saved me."

Roda

What has changed compared to last year?

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.

What does Open Doors do to help Christians in Ethiopia?

Open Doors works through local partners to strengthen Christians in Ethiopia with leadership and persecution survival training, economic empowerment projects, livelihood skills training, and women's and youth ministry.

How can you pray for Ethiopia?

  • Pray for wisdom and provision for the government as they lead a country greatly affected by war, drought, plagues and political instability
  • Pray that Christians facing intense pressure to renounce their faith will have the strength to hold onto Jesus and trust Him for their futures
  • Pray for the ministry among women and youth—ask God to raise up more women and young people to strengthen the church.
     
a prayer for Ethiopia

Dear 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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Map thumbnail
Persecution Level

Very High


Persecution Type
  • Christian denominational protectionism
  • Islamic oppression
  • Dictatorial paranoia
  • Clan oppression
Population of Christians
69,234,000 (60.0%)

Main Religion
Christianity

Government
Federal Parliamentary Republic

Leader
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed