Being a Christian in Ethiopia, a country in East Africa with a large Muslim population is hard. In Opendoor’s World Watch list of top 50 countries where it is deadly to be a Christian, Ethiopia was ranked 29.
Government regulates freedom of religion wile believers face fierce opposition in some parts of the country, especially those that converts from Islam.
Kids are raised to oppose Christians, so you can imagine how hard it was for Ibrahim, a former Muslim who converted to Christianity.
He said, “I was taught that killing Christians was good,” says 20-year-old Ibrahim*. “My Muslim family taught me that it was the way to get a ‘ticket straight to Heaven.”
Though a staunch Muslim, Ibrahim said he was always drawn to the cross although it is a Christian symbol. His curiosity on the matter of the cross led him to begin a research into the cross as he secretly attends a local church.
“I never really knew what the cross meant other than the fact that it was a Christian symbol,” said Ibrahim.
“But I kept researching it and secretly started attending a local evangelical church. Finally, I understood that the cross was my salvation. The cross was my ‘free ticket’ to Heaven, to salvation.”
He knew his decision to give his life to Christ would be with great consequences as his parents, especially his father had warned him he would kill him if he ever becomes a Christian.
My father had even warned me as a child that if I ever became a Christian, he would kill me,” Ibrahim says.
“I knew my conversion would bring utter shame to the family. There would be no other response from them than to seek to kill me. I knew I couldn’t tell them, I knew their threats would not only be verbal. They would really seek to kill me.”
After he became born again, Ibrahim kept his faith a secret and would often tell his parents he was going out to play soccer anytime he wants to attend a meeting at his local assembly.
“When football season eventually ended, I kept attending ‘football,” He said.
As expected, his parents did not take his new-found faith lightly. Ibrahim came home one day and the look on his parents’ face made him realize his life was about to change forever.
“There was no match today,” his father said. “You have deceived us! You lied to us! Where have you been?”
He tried to dodge the question but his father confronted him with the rumor he had that his son (Ibrahim) was attending a church.
“I knew I had to run away. I took nothing but the clothes on my back.”
For the sake of his faith and love for Jesus, Ibrahim lived on the street before an evangelist took him in.
His peace was soon cut short after a relative found out where he was staying and reported to his parents.
“He had been watching me for a while and knew exactly where I lived and worked and attended church. He told my father exactly where to find me.”
Still angry about Ibrahim’s decision to convert from Islam, his father came to Ibrahim’s work and openly shouted at him, harassing him in front of everyone.
“He accused me of betraying the family and bringing shame on them. I had to leave again.”
Again, Ibrahim had nothing but the clothes on his back.
That’s when Ibrahim met a contact from Open Doors who arranged a place for him to stay. Currently, Ibrahim remains in hiding. His brothers are searching for him to kill their brother and the evangelist who protected him, Ibrahim says.
“But there is no turning back for me,” Ibrahim says resolutely. “Before coming to Christ, I hated people. I was mistrusting. When I gave my life to Christ, I had to leave my home and all that I loved behind. It is then that I began loving people.
“Peace filled my life. People measure their lives by what they own, but I know that peace comes from Jesus.”
Let’s Pray that Ibrahim will continue to stand strong in the face of persecution from his family. Pray for protection as his family hunts for him.
Pray for Ibrahim who now has no ties to his family. Ask God to be near to him and to send others to be his family.
Pray for Ibrahim’s family, especially his father, that their hearts would soften toward Ibrahim and ultimately, they would come to know the Jesus that Ibrahim met.
Recently, Ibrahim took part in a youth ministry trip, where he was able to spend time with other persecuted young people and learn from them. Pray also that Ibrahim will continue to find fellowship and community with persecuted believers like him.