The Ethiopian Orthodox Church is enduring a time of 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. The Orthodox Church is being challenged by the growth of both Islam and contemporary Christian movements, but its roots run deep. Pray for God to bring new vibrancy to this ancient faith.
Massive growth in Protestant and Independent churches creates a great expectation for further harvest. Pray for:
- Effective means for generating income to support Kingdom workers, to develop the needed structures and facilities and to fund social programmes that are essential in the prevailing conditions of deep poverty. The Church must minister as the poor to the poor; pray for creative solutions to the challenges this brings.
- Continued unity and cooperation among leaders, qualities forged through past suffering. Relationships among denominations seem stronger than the divisions that occur within denominations; pray against the dividing influences of the enemy and human pride. Pray especially for the Evangelical Churches Fellowship (ECFE), which represents the majority of evangelicals in the country.
- Missions vision was birthed out of suffering during the Marxist regime and the withdrawal of Western agencies during that time. Through ECFE, a long-term strategy for evangelizing Ethiopia has emerged, one that includes intercession, focus on unevangelized peoples and church mobilization - only 3% of evangelical churches are regarded as being "mission-mobilized". The vision entails planting, cross-culturally, thousands more churches in all regions of Ethiopia and even sending to the Horn of Africa and South Asia.
Islam is becoming a greater challenge. Ethiopia has remained a bastion of Christianity, withstanding Islamic advances for centuries. Muslims now target this nation for Islamization - educational, employment and financial inducements are offered, a massive mosque-building programme is underway and thousands of wells are being drilled. Violent - even murderous - reactions against evangelical outreach create a climate of religious tension and fear, but this same violence causes many other Muslims to consider Jesus. Those committed to reaching Muslims for Christ demonstrate that, while costly, it is possible. From only a few hundred believers 10 years ago, there are now tens of thousands of believers from a Muslim background.
Young people make up the majority of Ethiopia's population - 70% are under the age of 30. Yet, far too little ministry is focused on reaching and discipling them. Among students, EVASUE(IFES) and Cru see incredible growth and fruitfulness despite frequent opposition. Pray for children to be able to be schooled and to find employment as they finish. Pray also that church and parachurch ministries would make discipling the next generation a top priority.
Bible translation remains a major challenge. Up to 88% of congregations use local languages in their meetings, so Bible translation is a must. There are 35 translation projects in progress; this represents nearly half of all living languages. Another 17 languages have translation needs that are currently unaddressed. Many groups are involved with projects: WBT, Mekane Yesu Church, KHC, SIM, The Bible Society and Word for the World. Pray for wisdom in knowing which projects are priorities, and pray for more nationals to become involved in them. A hugely ambitious Bible distribution programme by The Bible Society needs finance and prayer.
- Literature. Improved literacy and swelling populations create millions of new readers. Reading materials are increasing in various languages, and opportunities for "evangelism through literacy" are growing. Pray especially for good resources in minority languages, for youth-oriented literature and for widespread distribution in a country where poverty and poor infrastructure present many challenges.
- Audio Scripture. This alternate format for presenting gospel material is vital and very much in demand in Ethiopia's oral society. GRN has 73 languages on offer, Faith Comes By Hearing has a successful audio programme and hundreds of "Bible Listening Groups" have sprung up, even among the Orthodox.
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Content taken or adapted from Operation World, 7th Edition (2010) and Pray for the World (2015). Both books are published by InterVarsity Press. All rights reserved.