Three young teenage Christian girls have been arrested following the distribution of a Christian book in the town of Babile. The three girls -- Eden, 15, Gifti, 14, and Mihiret, 14 -- first appeared in court on September 28th with an 18-year-old woman known to her friends as Deborah. Police and governing officials have continually asked for extensions in the case.
This case involves the distribution of a Christian book written in Ethiopia's main language: Let's Speak the Truth in Love: Answers to Questions by Ahmed Deedat. The book, which was written by a local author, answers questions posed by the late South African Islamic scholar (and former head of the Islamic Propagation Centre International) about the Christian faith. Local Christians decided to distribute it following their cross-cultural evangelism training.
Threats against the girls' church leaders have since arisen. On September 21st, a group of about 20 militant Muslim youths reportedly visited the home of one of the leaders, warning him to leave the area or risk losing his life and property.
There is also concern over the well-being of the girls. Eden suffered a beating on her first night of imprisonment. But according to a source who was able to visit the girls in prison, their faith is unshaken. "This (suffering) is an honour for us," Eden says. "We should expect persecution. We are not afraid. We are singing and praying here in prison."
Ethiopia's constitution guarantees freedom of religion, and in most cities people of different faiths co-exist peacefully. However, evangelical Christians (including those who formerly adhered to Islam or to Ethiopia's Orthodox church) are subject to discrimination, threats and sometimes attacks. To review previous reports on persecution in Ethiopia, visit this page.
Please pray that Eden, Gifti, Mihiret, and their friend Deborah, will receive justice, mercy and protection from potential harm. Thanking God for their steadfastness in the face of persecution, let us pray that they will continue to speak His Word with great boldness and conviction (Acts 4:29). May their witness inspire others to grow in the Christian faith and to live more courageously -- despite whatever obstacles or opposition they encounter. Ultimately, may God's message of salvation and peace prevail throughout Ethiopia.