An Ethiopian Christian man suffered deep wounds to the back of his head when he was attacked by a group of local Muslims with machetes while at home alone because he had been evangelising, according to World Watch Monitor (WWM).
The attack, which took place on July 16 and left the 27-year-old man needing life-saving surgery, occured in Hirna, a rural town east of the country's capital, Addis Ababa.
The victim, who cannot be named for security reasons, was referred by his local clinic to the hospital in nearby Asebeteferi which in turn sent him to Adama, where a doctor, believing he would die on the way to a bigger hospital, operated on his wounds. Although he is still unwell according to WWM, the surgery stabilised him and his treatment is continuing.
WWM was told by a source that the gang of Muslims who attacked the man were angry because he had been evangelising. The gang had first attacked the local Full Gospel Church and partly damaged its roof and a wall before going to the man's house, WWM reported.
According to Open Doors – which produces its annual World Watch List of countries where Christians are persecuted – violence against Christians in Ethiopia increased during 2017. More than 100 incidents were recorded in the country, including murder, imprisonment and physical attacks on people and businesses.
WWM outlined how Christians also face other forms of harassment: Muslims who convert to Christianity will often be shunned by family members, denied inheritance and child custody rights. Meanwhile, evangelical Christians face challenges with the more conservative Ethiopian Orthodox Church, as well as the government, with Tigray state in northern Ethiopia reportedly considering adopting a new law that would ban Christians from evangelising outside church compounds and make it difficult for non-Orthodox Christians to own their own church or even meet in a house.
Nonetheless, the latest census, in 2007, showed that Christianity is still Ethiopia's main religion (63 per cent of the population), and it is expanding its influence. The country is home to 'one of the fastest growing evangelical churches in the world', according to the theologian Allan Anderson in 2014.