Ethiopia—nearly twice the size of Texas—
is one of the poorest countries in Africa.
Half of the population lives below the poverty
line (recently increased by The World
Bank to $1.25 per day). Nearly two-thirds
of its 80 million people are illiterate.
Agriculture, primarily coffee, is the mainstay.
But the country is besieged by drought
and devastated by famine.
Ethiopia is also one of the world’s first
Christian nations. The gospel arrived in the
4th century, and Islam followed about 300
years later. Since the time of Muhammad,
Christianity and Islam have coexisted.
The Ethiopian Orthodox Church was the
official state church from 1270 until the
1974 revolution that replaced Emperor
Haile Selassie with a Marxist government.
From that time, until the regime’s collapse
in 1991, Christians were persecuted, and
Islamization expanded and became
By 1960, there were fewer than 200,000
Protestants in Ethiopia. But the Holy Spirit
began mightily “bringing in the sheaves”
and, by 2000, there were nearly 12 million!
Today, an estimated 20 percent of the population
But Islam, too, is forcefully advancing,
penetrating Christian areas, racking up
conversions among the poor with bribes,
targeting minority animist and traditional
ethnic religions and peppering the landscape
with mosques. Thirty years ago,
Muslims were rare. Today, about 33 percent
of the population—nearly double the
number of Christians—practice Islam.
The fields indeed are ripe. As in the first
century, however, there are too few workers.
The Ethiopian Church is being equipped
and mobilized, but it is still scratching the
surface. To reach deeper and wider, it needs
exponential training, resources and prayer.
THIS IS OUR CHALLENGE.