Ethiopia Evangelist Killed For "Refusing To Deny Christ"

Monday, September 26, 2005

Monday, September 26, 2005
By BosNewsLife News Center

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA (BosNewsLife) -- A human rights group has expressed concern about reports of wide spread persecution of Christians in rural Ethiopia where at least one evangelist has been killed "for refusing" to abandon his Christian faith, BosNewsLife monitored Thursday, September 22.

Voice Of the Martyrs Canada (VOMC), which has close contacts in the region, said it has learned that 34-year old Estifanos Abate, an evangelist of the Assemblies of God church in the town of Jijiga "was shot and killed July 19 for refusing to deny his faith in Christ."

In a statement to BosNewsLife News Center, VOMC said news of the killing had been slow to emerge as "communication is difficult and reports of their courage often take several weeks to reach the outside world."

The incident allegedly happened when the evangelist was traveling from Degahabour to Jijiga in eastern Ethiopia where his passenger bus was stopped by Islamic militants. "The militants boarded the bus, demanding to know the religion of each traveler. Of the 45 passengers, five were Orthodox and four were evangelical Christians. The gunmen ordered these nine [Christians] to be separated from the Muslim passengers," VOMC claimed, citing sources in the area.


"The Christians were then ordered to repeat the Islamic creed and to bow three times toward Mecca. Everyone but Estifanos complied with the order and was allowed back on the bus. The gunmen threatened Estifanos, who calmly began to tell his attackers about Jesus, while his fellow travelers begged him to save his life by obeying their demands," VOMC said.

"The Muslim leader then ordered the bus to continue on its way, without Estifanos. As the bus pulled away, Estifanos was executed," VOMC added. It quoted eyewitnesses as saying that "his body was left on the side of the road for most of the day, presumably as a warning to others."

VOMC claimed authorities had not yet begun an investigation into his death. There was no immediate reaction from Ethiopian officials. Human rights watchers say the reported violence is not uncommon for evangelical Christians in Ethiopia. VOMC said it had urged its supporters to "continue to pray for continued Christian outreach in regions where the pressure of Islamic militants is getting more intense."


Christian activities are also made difficult by poverty and a lack of proper health care, aid workers said. On Thursday, September 22, reports emerged that Malaria could kill tens of thousands of Ethiopian children unless donors provide $6.7 million urgently needed for medicine.

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said in a published statement that over 6 million people in Ethiopia, many of them children under five, were at risk of contracting malaria in a possible new epidemic, Reuters news agency reported.

In 2003 up to 114,000 people -- including 80,000 children -- died due to a major malaria epidemic in Ethiopia, UNICEF was quoted as saying. "A similar number of people may die if there is another full-blown malaria epidemic in 2005," the statement reportedly added. (With BosNewsLife Research, Stefan J. Bos and reports from Ethiopia).

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