Thinking they couldn’t get into much trouble just giving away Bibles, 17 Christian college students from Meda Welabu University in Ethiopia thought they would go into the rural countryside and share the Gospel.
The native Ethiopian students didn’t know what kind of reception they would get. They hoped for the best. According to the 2007 National Census, Christians make up 62.8 percent of Ethiopia’s population and Muslims make up 33.9 percent of the population.
They arrived in the rural village of Oma in the remote Bale province – an area none of the city kids had ever visited.
As they began talking with villagers and offering free Bibles, a crowd gathered. Excited, the students began sharing the Gospel. A village elder, who is a Muslim leader, began to debate them and the crowd grew unfriendly.
“One of the villagers angrily argued with them,” reports Jonathon Racho of International Christian Concern, a group that supports local congregations in the Third World, “inciting a mob to attack the students. The Muslims shouted ‘Allah Akbar’ (Allah is great!) and hurled stones at the Christians and beat them with rods.”
“The mob overwhelmed” police, according to Racho. When the students fled the village on foot, “the mob unsuccessfully attempted to set fire to their car.”
“We thank God that no one was killed,” said one of the students, who asked to remain anonymous. “It’s sad that we suffered the attacks despite Ethiopian laws which say there is freedom of religion and equality in the country.”
While Ethiopia’s constitution guarantees freedom of religion, Muslims occasionally attack Christians living in Muslim-majority areas.
International Christian Concern asked Christians to pray for the students, that they would not be discouraged. “Pray these believers will be encouraged to persevere in their faith and Christian witness,” said Racho. ”Pray they will rejoice in the opportunity to grow in Christ-likeness through the opposition they have faced.”
All 17 of the students reported some sort of physical injury – but nothing life-threatening.
“Pray for those who have been wounded,” asked Racho. “Pray also for the people who received Bibles from the students.”