A Christian community in the Muslim-dominated SNNP region south of the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa is in mourning following the murder of a Christian woman towards the end of March. The victim was in her fifties and known as Workitu. Her last name and the exact location of the incident are withheld for the protection of her three sons aged between late teens and early twenties.
On March 19, Workitu’s husband and a neighbor demanded that she sell government drought relief aid she had collected earlier for her familiy. When she refused, they began to beat her. They continued attacking her even after she had collapsed.
Villagers took Workitu to a clinic in a nearby town, but after four days she was referred to another hospital. She died in transfer, five days after theh attack. Police arrested the two attackers and charged them with murder.
Local Christians told Open Doors that Workitu converted to Christianity last August, after which she endured regular beatings from her husband and threats from the community to persuade her to return to Islam. In accordance with Islamic customs, Workitu’s husband has another wife with whom he spent most of his time.
Workitu told her church leaders that her husband threatened to kill her unless she returned to Islam, and they advised her to report this to authorities in writing. In February, she wrote a letter to police and local government officials to report the abuse, telling them she feared for her life. However, according to sources, officials ignored her request for protection and now deny ever having received the letter.
Two of Workitu’s sons, Mustafa* (in his twenties) and Kedir* (17) have now decided to follow Christianity in Ethiopia. Their mother was the only Christian in their family and the boys told the Christian leaders they want to know more about the Lord their mother worshipped. Another villager who was a close friend of Workitu’s also decided to follow Christ.
“Workitu is like Stephen,” commented a local evangelist. “Her death was honored by the bringing of her sons to new life. I know she would have been extremely delighted had she witnessed her sons’ decision to follow Christ.”
-Please thank the Lord for saving Workitu
-Please pray for His comfort to her sons
-Please pray for God’s grace to this Christian community that is facing increasing persecution
*representative photo used for security reasons