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Region   Africa
Population   112 759 000
Christian Population   67 491 000 (59.9%)
Main Religion   Christianity
2021 Ranking   36
2020 Ranking   39


In Ethiopia, persecution is often dependent on what kind of Christian you are or where you live. Because of the government’s special relationship with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, other denominations—especially evangelical and Pentecostal Protestants—are persecuted by the state and by the Orthodox Church. Christians who switch denominations and leave the Orthodox Church are subject to family and community pressure and can face significant mistreatment. Additionally, churches can be restricted from holding religious gatherings.

The other major factor for persecution in Ethiopia is Islamic extremism. Particularly in the eastern and south-eastern parts of the country, converts to Christianity from Islam can be harassed and oppressed by their families and surrounding communities. In some of these regions, Christians are denied access to community resources, ostracized and discriminated against. Additionally, some Christians are subject to violence when Islamic extremists attack churches and homes.

Women are also subjected to specific persecution in Ethiopia. Christian women have been forced to marry non-Christians and then recant their faith. And if a woman converts to Christianity in a non-Christian area, it is most likely she will be divorced by her husband. She may also lose custody of her children.

Meet Khalid*

“My relatives are Muslim and pray five times a day. When I accepted Jesus Christ, I stopped praying with them. They told me that I defiled the culture. In fact, they said I betrayed them and their faith. They forced me to leave the house. They refused to give me food and shelter. They even threatened to kill me. They think when you get hungry, you will come back. In spite of all these things, God’s protection saved me.”

Khalid* was abandoned by his family for choosing Christ and so became dependent on others’ goodwill. But thanks to Open Doors partners, Khalid is now a successful entrepreneur who can look after his family and impact the lives of many others.

*Name changed for security reasons


Pray for Ethiopia

  • Pray for the Christian denominations in Ethiopia, particularly for the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Pray they would see the unity that’s possible in Jesus, and that they would embrace Christians of every kind under the banner of Christ’s Kingdom.
  • Pray for Christians living in areas where Islamic extremists are active. Pray for protection and that they would not be discriminated against or oppressed.

What does Open Doors do to help Christians in Ethiopia?

Open Doors’ work in Ethiopia focuses on equipping Christians for the ministry work, like leading a local persecuted congregation, sharing the Gospel with unbelievers, or helping new believers grow in the knowledge of Christ. Open Doors also helps Christians deal with the emotional and physical results of persecution by offering livelihood support and training for church leaders and Christians, and by helping followers of Jesus prepare for persecution

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