Ethiopia, Christianity, and Islam

Ethiopia is a very important country in terms of missions, Christianity, and Islam. It was the first country to actually become Christian officially (followed by Armenia and then the Roman Empire). The predominant Ethiopian Orthodox Church is entrusted with a section of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, and I have walked through their chapel while the monks are in prayer a few times.

The Ethiopian Orthodox Church is a non-Chalcedonian church meaning that it is classified as Oriental Orthodox, like the Syriac Orthodox Church, Coptic Orthodox Church and the Armenian Apostolic Church. Both Christianity and Islam are growing in the country, while animism is in decline. Muslims have a great desire to see the country Islamized as a party of Muhammad's followers visited the country, though he himself had unflattering things to say about the Orthodox Christians there.

Here are some of the prayer points for Ethiopia from Operation World's Ethiopia page which has a great wealth of information on the country and what is going on there: (OW is evangelical so they naturally regard a growth of Protestantism as positive, FYI)

ANSWERS TO PRAYER

1 Praise God for the thrilling growth of the Protestant churches since 1936. Two great waves of violent persecution under the Italians in 1936-41 and the Communists in 1974-1990 refined and purified the church, but there were many martyrs. Vision, sacrificial evangelism and courageous witness have characterized Evangelicals of all denominations. There have been great seasons of harvest with millions coming to Christ, the greatest being since the failure and collapse of Communism. Protestants were fewer than 200,000 — 0.8% of the population — in 1960, but by 2000 this had become nearly 12 million and 19.7% of the population.

2 Growth of Protestants continued in the 1990s with numbers almost doubling to 11 million and to nearly 18% of the population.

3 The unity between believers forged in the severe Marxist persecution has continued and dynamic plans for outreach, pioneer evangelism and mission endeavour for the period 2000-2020 are being implemented.

4 Increased distribution and use of the Bible for reading and preaching has brought revival to sections of the Orthodox Church. In 1997 it was estimated there were 20,000 active, born-again Christians associated with this move of the Holy Spirit. Many have moved on to start new churches or join existing evangelical churches.

CHALLENGES FOR PRAYER

[1 Pray for political stability and peace.]

2 The Ethiopian Orthodox Church is going through immense change. Centuries of isolation from the rest of the Christian world as a Christian island in a sea of Islam helped form its unique culture, theology and traditions.

a) It has had to adjust to the loss of political privilege under Communism, which has only been partially restored since 1990. Syncretism and the occult are widespread among the millions of nominal Orthodox.

b) The rapid spread of the use of Scriptures and growth of Protestant denominations has led to both millions of defections and the emergence of strong evangelical and charismatic networks in the Orthodox Church.

Pray for a deep work of the Holy Spirit to bring this ancient Church to its biblical heritage and to new life.

3 Massive growth in Protestant and Independent churches has created a great expectation for further harvest. Pray for:

a) Continued revival and growth not to be quenched by carnality, division and power-seeking in leadership. A characteristic of the recent move of the Spirit has been widespread mobilization of ordinary believers and multiplication of cell churches.

b) Effective means for generating income to support men and women in the service of the Lord, develop the structures and facilities needed and fund social programmes essential in the prevailing deep poverty.

c) Preservation of the cooperation and unity among leaders which was forged in suffering. Vigilance is needed to heal past broken relationships and prevent future fleshly discord. Pray especially for the Evangelical Churches Fellowship (ECFE) which represents the majority of Evangelicals in the country.

d) The continued growth of missions vision. A big commitment to missions by various evangelical denominations was cut back in 1976 due to persecution. Out of this suffering emerged a national vision and a united strategy for evangelizing Ethiopia. The 20 year integrated strategy included prayer and people-mobilization, survey training and sending out missionary evangelists to every province and people with few Evangelicals and then to other lands. By 2000 much had been achieved. Pray for the successful accomplishment of the complete vision by 2015. KHC is spearheading outreach to India and Pakistan.

4 Leadership training was severely restricted under Communism. Much has developed since 1991. Pray for the following:

a) Post-graduate training at the Ethiopian Graduate School in Addis Ababa. This was jointly established by the KHC and Mekane Yesu Churches. Pray for the provision of theologians and teachers that are both godly and steeped in the Scriptures.

b) The degree-level training — the Evangelical Theological College (KHC and SIM), Mekane Yesu Theological Seminary, the AoG Bible College with 100 students, Trinity College and the Orthodox St. Paul’s Seminary.

c) The numerous Bible Schools run by denominations all over the country such as the 187 Amharic Bible schools (KHC) and Mekane Yesu with many more.

d) The network of evening and short-term Bible schools and TEE programmes around the country where many thousands of local leaders and evangelists are trained.

5 The Muslim advance. Muslims strengthened their position under Marxism, and have launched a massive campaign for the Islamization of Ethiopia by penetrating Christian areas with the offer of bribes and a mosque-building programme — many were reported to have been built during the time that many Christian churches were being closed. Their numbers are growing significantly, with converts out of both animism and the Orthodox Church. Ethiopia is strategically vital for both Islam and Christianity. Pray for a definite prayer mobilization that will lead to breakthroughs among Muslim peoples and also frustration of these Islamic stratagems. Converts out of Islam are numbered only in hundreds.

Comments

Midhat said…
Correction: The prophet Muhammad never visited Ethiopia (Abyssinia).

On the contrary, Muhammad sent several of his companions to seek refuge there. It was under King Negus of (Abyssinia) that these few Moslem refugees were given safehaven.

Your claim of bribery to convert Christians to Islam is unsupported.

Based on the Europe World Year Book 1991 and UNICEF/ETHIOPIA the estimated number of Ethiopian Muslims, which ranges between 23.9 million to 27.7 million (45 percent-52 percent), ranks as the third largest Muslim population in Africa after Nigeria and Egypt.


You may also wish to refer to this link for some substance:

http://www.selamta.net/ethiopian%20muslims%20history.htm
Abu Daoud said…
Thank you Midhat, let me verify this information. Please also verify for me that you are referring to the place called Habash in Arabic.
Abu Daoud said…
Corrected as requested, Midhat. Shukraan kthiir.

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