When a group of fifteen young Christians decided to join an evangelistic outreach in another town, they never anticipated that this act could result in physical assault, arrest, incarceration and restrictive penalties imposed on the local Christian community. But this is exactly what happened to fifteen young Christians who travelled from the capital of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, to visit the eastern Ethiopian town of Karamile to meet with other youth and to engage in outreach.
Trouble began the first day of their visit when a group of local townspeople opposed their evangelistic efforts and physically assaulted two of the female members of the group. Police quickly intervened, but instead of taking action against the aggressors they arrested and jailed all fifteen of visiting youth. Thankfully, officials released them later in the day after local church leaders intervened and advocated for their release.
The next day, however, local church leaders learned that this incident would have a broader impact than they anticipated. Town administrators and security officers summoned all church leaders in Karamile to a meeting where they were to stop all evangelistic activities outside church premises. They also concluded that although the Christians had the right to pray privately in their homes with their families, they were not allowed to invite other people to such prayers.
These regulations are in conflict with the Constitution of Ethiopia, which guarantees freedom of religion and protects freedom of expression without interference.
Church leaders in Karamile asked us to pray for them as they consider how to respond to these restrictions. Pray also for the young Christians that were attacked and jailed. Pray this situation will not cause them to become fearful but that they will remain steadfast despite their persecution.