Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
May 4-5

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Area 1,106,000 Fertile mountain plateau surrounded by the drought-prone lowlands and deserts of the Red Sea coast, and borders on Eritrea, Somalia, Kenya and Sudan. Landlocked since the secession of Eritrea.

Population Ann.Gr. Density
2000 62,564,875 +2.48% 57 per sq. km.
2010 79,943,539 +2.55% 72 per sq. km.
2025 115,382,091 +2.31% 104 per sq. km.

Capital Addis Ababa 2,650,000. Urbanites 11.5%.


Semitic Origin 45%. 8 peoples, including: Amhara 17.7 mill. (North and Central Highlands); Tigray 6.09m (North and also Eritrea); Gurage 2.73m (6 major dialects, South Highlands); Adare/Harari 125,000 (3 groups); Arab 231,000. A few thousand Black Jews (Falasha) remaining – mainly Christians; over 70,000 airlifted to Israel.

Cushitic 42.2%. 25 peoples, the largest: Oromo 18.2m in a dozen tribal divisions in Central and southern Ethiopia; Somali 2.38m in east; Sidamo 1.85m; Hadiyya 945,000; Afar 857,000; Agew 720,000; Gedeo 670,000; Kambaata 638,000; Konso 138,000; Gawwada 77,000.

Omotic 11.3%. Over 25 peoples in south and southwest; largest: Wolaytta 1.6m; Gamo-Kullo 682,000; Keffa 651,000; Goffa 223,000; Bench(Gimira) 181,000; Yemsa 170,000; Aari 162,000; Basketo 67,000; Hamer-Banna 50,000.

Nilo-Sudanic 1.2%. Over 20 peoples in south and west. Largest: Me'en 74,000; Gumuz 50,000; Bertha 50,000; Anuak 45,000; Nuer 40,000; Komo 38,000; Murle 9,000.

Literacy 36%. National working language Amharic; 65% of population are able to speak it. Regional languages are important. All languages 86. Languages with Scriptures 6Bi 12NT 4por 20w.i.p. (6-OT, 14NT).


The main export is coffee – believed to have originated in Ethiopia. The government has initiated wide-ranging reforms and is developing the communications network. This follows decades of underdevelopment due to wars and famine. Periodic droughts and the 1998-2000 war with Eritrea have slowed economic development. Unemployment over 35%. HDI 0.298; 172nd/174. Public debt 157% of GNP. Income/person $100 (0.4% of USA).


Probably one of the oldest nations known with a long written history. Amhara-dominated Empire 1896-1974, with Italian occupation 1936-41. The revolution of 1974 overthrew the Emperor Haile Selassie and imposed doctrinaire Marxist ideology on the country with collectivization, nationalization and repression of all dissent and of religion. Regional uprisings together with severe droughts and man-aided famines ultimately led to the collapse of Mengistu's Marxist regime in 1991. The Tigray-led government ended Amhara domination and federalized the country with a devolution of power to 10 regions largely ethnically defined. Though there is greater democratic freedom, there are limitations. The war with Eritrea has tended to unite the country despite the enormous cost in lives and finance.


North Ethiopia was one of the first Christian nations – from the 4th Century. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church became the State Church from 1270 until the 1974 revolution. The Marxist regime persecuted Christians, especially Evangelicals, with many church buildings destroyed and congregations scattered. Since 1991 there has been unprecedented freedom for worship and witness. The government seeks to deal even-handedly with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and the increasingly active and growing Muslim minority. Persecution Index 44th in the world.

Religions Population % Adherents Ann.Gr.
Christian 65.02 40,679,682 +2.8%
Muslim 31.00 19,395,111 +3.1%
Traditional ethnic 2.98 1,864,433 -7.1%
non-Religious/other 1.00 625,649 +2.5%

Christians Denom. Affil.% ,000 Ann.Gr.
Protestant 31 18.59 11,629 +6.7%
Independent 7 0.18 116 +13.6%
Anglican 1 0.00 1 +0.0%
Catholic 1 0.67 420 +4.7%
Orthodox 3 57.54 36,000 +0.3%
Marginal 2 0.03 19 +8.9%
Unaffiliated   0.10 93 n.a.
Doubly affiliated   -12.10 -7,600 n.a.

Churches MegaBloc Cong. Members Affiliates
Ethiopian Orthodox O 20,000 21,301,775 36,000,000
Kale Heywet Ch (SIM) P 4,500 3,500,000 5,000,000
Mekane Yesu (Luth) P 4,400 2,300,000 3,400,000
United Pentecostal P 7,143 800,000 1,200,000
Full Gosp-Mulu Wengel P 900 240,000 600,000
Heywet Birhane (AoG) P 979 350,000 600,000
Catholic (Coptic&Rom) C 200 248,521 420,000
Seventh-day Adventist P 800 128,000 280,000
Meserete Kristos P 350 114,000 160,000
Sefer Genet (FFM) P 347 52,000 110,000
Chs of Christ P 510 55,000 100,000
Birhane Wengel P 95 19,000 60,000
Emmanuel Baptist P 50 15,000 35,000
Other denoms [33]   825 88,700 221,000
Doubly affiliated     -3,454,500 -7,600,000
Total Christians [46]   41,000 25,800,000 40,586,000

Trans-bloc Groupings pop. % ,000 Ann.Gr.
Evangelical 19.7 12,321 +6.4%
Charismatic 10.0 6,237 +8.3%
  Pentecostal 4.1 2,556 +6.4%

Missionaries from Ethiopia
P,I,A 482+ in 11 agencies to 7 countries: Ethiopia 463.

Missionaries to Ethiopia
P,I,A 669 in 60 agencies from 23 countries: USA 253, Finland 82, Denmark 64, Sweden 60, Norway 52, Germany 41, UK 40.

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Answers to Prayer

1 Praise God for the thrilling growth of the Protestant churches since 1936. Two great waves of violent persecution under the Italians in 1936-41 and the Communists in 1974-1990 refined and purified the church, but there were many martyrs. Vision, sacrificial evangelism and courageous witness have characterized Evangelicals of all denominations. There have been great seasons of harvest with millions coming to Christ, the greatest being since the failure and collapse of Communism. Protestants were fewer than 200,000 – 0.8% of the population – in 1960, but by 2000 this had become nearly 12 million and 19.7% of the population.

2 Growth of Protestants continued in the 1990s with numbers almost doubling to 11 million and to nearly 18% of the population.

3 The unity between believers forged in the severe Marxist persecution has continued and dynamic plans for outreach, pioneer evangelism and mission endeavour for the period 2000-2020 are being implemented.

4 Increased distribution and use of the Bible for reading and preaching has brought revival to sections of the Orthodox Church. In 1997 it was estimated there were 20,000 active, born-again Christians associated with this move of the Holy Spirit. Many have moved on to start new churches or join existing evangelical churches.

Challenges for Prayer

1 Ethiopia's political leaders confront crises on many fronts:

a) Hostilities with Eritrea have crippled efforts to revive and modernize the country.

b) Ethnic fragmentation remains a real possibility. The central government is predominantly Tigrayan in composition and other larger ethnic groups – Amhara, Oromo, Somali and Afar – are restive.

c) Pray for wisdom, humility, courage and a seeking after God among those in leadership and for peace and the right climate to bring about change for the better. Repression, famines, wars and deep poverty have traumatized many.

2 The Ethiopian Orthodox Church is going through immense change. Centuries of isolation from the rest of the Christian world as a Christian island in a sea of Islam helped form its unique culture, theology and traditions.

a) It has had to adjust to the loss of political privilege under Communism, which has only been partially restored since 1990. Syncretism and the occult are widespread among the millions of nominal Orthodox.

b) The rapid spread of the use of Scriptures and growth of Protestant denominations has led to both millions of defections and the emergence of strong evangelical and charismatic networks in the Orthodox Church.

Pray for a deep work of the Holy Spirit to bring this ancient Church to its biblical heritage and to new life.

3 Massive growth in Protestant and Independent churches has created a great expectation for further harvest. Pray for:

a) Continued revival and growth not to be quenched by carnality, division and power-seeking in leadership. A characteristic of the recent move of the Spirit has been widespread mobilization of ordinary believers and multiplication of cell churches.

b) Effective means for generating income to support men and women in the service of the Lord, develop the structures and facilities needed and fund social programmes essential in the prevailing deep poverty.

c) Preservation of the cooperation and unity among leaders which was forged in suffering. Vigilance is needed to heal past broken relationships and prevent future fleshly discord. Pray especially for the Evangelical Churches Fellowship (ECFE) which represents the majority of Evangelicals in the country.

d) The continued growth of missions vision. A big commitment to missions by various evangelical denominations was cut back in 1976 due to persecution. Out of this suffering emerged a national vision and a united strategy for evangelizing Ethiopia. The 20 year integrated strategy included prayer and people-mobilization, survey training and sending out missionary evangelists to every province and people with few Evangelicals and then to other lands. By 2000 much had been achieved. Pray for the successful accomplishment of the complete vision by 2015. KHC is spearheading outreach to India and Pakistan.

4 Leadership training was severely restricted under Communism. Much has developed since 1991. Pray for the following:

a) Post-graduate training at the Ethiopian Graduate School in Addis Ababa. This was jointly established by the KHC and Mekane Yesu Churches. Pray for the provision of theologians and teachers that are both godly and steeped in the Scriptures.

b) The degree-level training – the Evangelical Theological College (KHC and SIM), Mekane Yesu Theological Seminary, the AoG Bible College with 100 students, Trinity College and the Orthodox St. Paul's Seminary.

c) The numerous Bible Schools run by denominations all over the country such as the 187 Amharic Bible schools (KHC) and Mekane Yesu with many more.

d) The network of evening and short-term Bible schools and TEE programmes around the country where many thousands of local leaders and evangelists are trained.

5 The Muslim advance. Muslims strengthened their position under Marxism, and have launched a massive campaign for the Islamization of Ethiopia by penetrating Christian areas with the offer of bribes and a mosque-building programme – many were reported to have been built during the time that many Christian churches were being closed. Their numbers are growing significantly, with converts out of both animism and the Orthodox Church. Ethiopia is strategically vital for both Islam and Christianity. Pray for a definite prayer mobilization that will lead to breakthroughs among Muslim peoples and also frustration of these Islamic stratagems. Converts out of Islam are numbered only in hundreds.

6 The less evangelized. The survey initiated by the ECFE has highlighted the remaining pioneer task. Of the 90 peoples listed for Ethiopia, 60 were found to still be under-evangelized. Ethiopian Christians entered 20 of them in 1995 planting 61 churches, in 1996 a further 20 were reached with 6,000 coming to Christ. The remaining 20 were entered by 2000. Though a toe-hold has been won, breakthroughs are needed in the following areas:

a) The predominantly Orthodox Amhara and Tigray regions in the north have few evangelical churches. Pray for infusion of spiritual life to these nominally Christian areas.

b) The largely Muslim Somali (Dire Dawa), Harari and Afar regions in the east. Indigenous Christians are few and there are no churches. The political, military and religious tensions are numerous and any form of Christian outreach is difficult. Many Somalis live in refugee camps in the desert. Pray for the many barriers to be removed.

c) Many sections of Oromia – especially in the east and south are strongly Muslim and uneasy with Tigray dominance in the capital. Kale Heywet missionary evangelists are reaching out to the Muslim Aari and Borana Oromo. Inter-tribal warfare has hindered growth among the Eastern Guji Oromo among whom some churches have been planted. Pray for the planting of live churches in every part of the Oromo people.

d) The numerous peoples of the southwest bordering on Sudan are isolated, some being nomadic. Nearly all are now either targeted or entered. Pray for healthy churches to be planted through pioneering work among the Aari, Bench, Bodi (5,000), Bumi (40,000), Hamer-Banna, Daasenach, Dime (15,000), Ebore (5,000), Karo (5,000), Me'en, Mali (39,000), Mursi (5,000), Tarra (15,000), Tsamai (20,000) and Wata (5,000).

e) Sudanese refugees from the vicious fighting in the south of that land. Many are housed in large camps. There are over 100,000 refugees in 4 camps on the border. Pray for all ministering to these unfortunate people. There are groups of believers among a number of the ethnic groups in these camps.

7 Young people need purpose and hope in life. Pray for SU ministry among young people and for its expansion among teenagers, and for EVASUE (IFES) ministry already established in 19 colleges with a strong evangelistic vision. There is need for more workers.

8 Foreign mission workers were reduced in numbers during the Marxist revolution, but are now free to minister, though their number is smaller than before. Pray that the missionary force may be wisely and sensitively deployed to best serve the maturing church. The major ministry needs are in leadership training, working together with Ethiopian missionaries in pioneer outreach to unevangelized peoples, Bible translation and technical and aid ministries. The largest agencies are: Norwegian Lutheran Mission (150 workers), Finnish Lutherans (55), Danish Lutheran Mission (54), SIL (50), SIM (39), SBC (25), German Lutherans (22), Swedish Pentecostal Mission (22), Finnish Pentecostal Mission (18).

9 Bible translation is a major task to be accomplished. There are 23 translation projects in progress sponsored and assisted by various organizations including Mekane Yesu Church, KHC, SIM, The Bible Society, SIL and Word for the World. Training courses for national translators are regularly given. There is growing interest on the part of the churches in translation, literacy and use of local language Scriptures. A national Forum of Bible Translators has recently been established. Praise God for the completion during the 1990s of the NT in Aari, Afar, Bench, Burji, Gumuz, Hadiyya, Kambaata, Kaficho Komso, Murle and Sidamo. Major projects needing prayer for completion are: the Bible in Afar, Anuak, West Gurage, Uduk and Wolaytta; the NT in Basketto, Daasenach, East Gurage, Hamer-Banna, Koorete, Majang, Male, Mursi and Suri. There are 10-15 languages with a definite translation need and a further 24 yet to be surveyed. Pray for guidance in assessing needs and for resources to start work in those requiring their own translation (SIL). Pray for more nationals to become involved.

10 Christian help ministries.

a) Literature. Intensive literacy campaigns have created many new readers. Reading materials are increasing in various languages. The challenges include the relatively small reading community, management and logistics of distribution. Pray especially for the production of reading materials for youth.

b) Aviation. MAF was required to leave the country in 1998. An Ethiopian, a former MAF pilot, continues to operate 2 aircraft as Abyssinian Flight Services. Pray for this ministry to the Church in a land with only a rudimentary road system and where planes are vital for ministry.

c) AIDS has spread rapidly with 3 million affected by the virus by 1998 – 10.6% of the adult population. There are 1.2 million AIDS orphans. Christians are working in areas of prevention, counselling, home care and orphan ministry.

d) Radio. FEBA broadcasts 11.5 hrs/wks in Amharic, 6.5 hrs/wk in Oromo and Tigray; there are plans to resume broadcasting in Afar. Pray for the preparation and impact of these programmes. Pray also for the return of the Lutheran station in Addis Ababa, Radio Voice of the Gospel, seized by the Communists after the revolution.

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