08 May 2015
Seven Christians have been imprisoned after they were arrested during the baptism of 40 new believers.
Police arrested the three leaders and four church members on Saturday 25 April in Asela, about 170km south of the capital Addis Ababa. They are accused of holding illegal meetings in a secret location.
The church is denying the charges against the Christians and insists that they had all the necessary approvals for their gathering in place. “They have informed government officials about their ministry and their meetings both orally and in writing,” reported a local source, who remains anonymous for security reasons.
Police also confiscated documents providing details of church membership. The church leaders are concerned that this may lead to even greater pressure on the community of new believers who are already vulnerable.
‘God is in control’
Sources who have visited the men in prison say they are in good spirits despite the difficult circumstances they are facing. “The overall situation in the prison is very difficult. More than 168 inmates are stuffed into one small space. The Christians each have just enough space to lie on their sides at night. One of them has to sleep in the area they use as a toilet,” reported the source.
But the leader of the group of Christians, Ahmedin Shikur*, told our source, “I will not complain about that. God is in control. We consider ourselves lucky to suffer for Christ in this way. We have not faced death, like many others have. We maintain our peace and will remain calm. We are at work,” he concluded, referring to their continued evangelism efforts inside the prison.
The Christians had a court hearing on Monday 4 May, but the judge granted the request of the police for an additional seven days to conclude their investigation. The next hearing is scheduled for 11 May.
The imprisoned believers are thankful for the prayers of many around the world for them, and have asked us to continue to intercede for them.
*name changed for security reasons
- Thank the Lord for His grace to these imprisoned Christians
- For continued grace as they face the difficulties, and that they would not become fearful or discouraged
- For the Lord’s protection over the vulnerable community of new believers
- For much wisdom for their church leaders
- That justice will be done.