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An evangelical church in central Ethiopia has been ordered to vacate its building 10 years after it started meeting there. Other churches in the region say pressure is increasing on them, too.

The Mekane Yesus Evangelical Church in the town of Robe in Bale zone, about 400km south-east of the capital Addis Ababa, was ordered by the Oromia Regional State Authorities to leave its premises within 30 days. Church meetings with local officials so far have not changed their mind.

The eviction letter dated 15 May and signed by the mayor, Birhanu Dadi Tafesse, said the church’s neighbours had complained of noise. They claimed the Christians attending the meeting were not from the area, and that the building was not suitable for worship services. “Based on the consensus we have reached in the committee formed, you have to look for another place and leave the current place within 30 days”, the letter said.

The source said the congregation secured the building from a private owner 10 years ago and had been using it without incident.

“This is really a surprising move”, a source, unnamed for security reasons, said. “If noise is the problem, Protestant churches cannot be the first to be accused of sound pollution. Other religious institutions use much more powerful sound systems all over the country. Noise from mosques and Ethiopian Orthodox churches can be heard throughout the day and even at night. This decision is nothing other than a display of animosity towards Protestant churches in the region.”

There is concern that these measures are part of a concerted effort to discourage Christian activity in Oromia state, the birthplace of President Abiye Ahmed. Leaders say they fear that if these government actions are successful, it might encourage Muslims in other communities to initiate similar complaints. As of the 2007 census, the state was about 51% Christian and 47.6% Muslim.

Source: World Watch Monitor

  • Pray the congregation will be in no way discouraged by this development. Pray they will be even more determined to meet to worship Him, learn from His word and fellowship with one another.
  • Ask the Lord to provide suitable premises for the church to meet. In the meantime, pray for the leaders of the church as they deal with the authorities.
  • Pray the church will remain strong and unified. Ask that their witness may be bold while being filled with grace and love.

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