Year: 2019
World Watch List: 28
Score: 65
Leader: Sahle-Work Zewde President
Population: 107 million
Christian: 64 million
Main Religion: Christianity
Government: Federal Republic
Source of Persecution: Islamic Oppression
In cooperation with local partners and churches, Open Doors supports the persecuted church in Ethiopia through:
  • Biblical, leadership, discipleship, and cross-cultural evangelism training
  • Livelihood support
  • Emergency aid relief
  • Preparing believers for persecution
Source of persecution: Islamic oppression / Denominational protectionism

The church is growing

In Ethiopia, Christian converts from different backgrounds face the most persecution. The evangelical churches are active in evangelism, and the number of converts from the Ethiopian Orthodox Church (EOC), Islam, and traditional beliefs is increasing.

Opposition from another church

Many, but not all, members of the EOC consider evangelical Christians as followers of a Western religion that threatens Ethiopian nationalism and culture. Radical EOC leaders would preach against socialising with evangelical Christians, and call them “false prophets”. EOC members who leave to join evangelical churches or renewal movements within the EOC face physical attacks, being cut off from the community, and intense pressure to return to the EOC. Unfortunately, some evangelical churches are responding in hate to the persecution.

Two-day attack on Christians

In areas dominated by Muslims, all Christians are harassed, especially believers from a Muslim background. Believers are not allowed to share community resources, parents have trouble finding schools where their children can be safe from bullying, and may be eventually forced to leave the area. Christian converts usually hide their faith and avoid going to church for fear of attacks. Muslim mobs attacked Christians in Ethiopia’s Somali region in August 2018 for two days, including the EOC. More than 20 Christians were killed and 19 churches damaged.

Cursed and beaten

Traditional beliefs involving black magic is practised in some parts, even among Christians and Muslims. Believers from these communities can be cursed, beaten, or expelled when they refuse to participate in the religious rites.

There may be change

In April 2018, an evangelical Christian, Dr Abiy Ahmed, was appointed as the new prime minister. In the months following, he implemented many reforms to the nation, bringing hope that there will be change.


  • Islamic extremism is on the rise in the region. Pray that Christians will hang on to Christ as their hope in difficulties and not be overcome by fear.
  • For the new prime minister, that he will have wisdom and courage as he brings change to Ethiopia.
  • For love and unity between the different Christian denominations in Ethiopia.

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World Watch List

2019 Map