Christianity came to Ethiopia in the fourth century and today about two-thirds of the population is Christian, but not everyone is happy about it.
In May 2011, Abraham Abera, a worker at an Evangelical church, was walking home with his pregnant wife, Bertukan. Suddenly, six Muslim men wielding machetes assailed them beating Abraham to death and leaving Bertukan unconscious. She and the baby survived and as Bertukan recounts the attack she recalls the men’s words: “You [Christians] are growing in number in our area. You are spreading your message. We will destroy you.”
In Russia, police with automatic weapons and attack dogs stormed St. George’s Lutheran Church during Sunday morning worship. Blocking all exits, they announced that they were searching for “extremist literature” and proceeded to ransack Bibles and hymnals. Justifying the raid, the police commander said, “There were indications that terrorists were gathering there, and distributing terrorist literature.” In fact, the raid was part of a growing program of hostility toward the Lutheran congregation that has been oddly branded “a Catholic sect.”
These and far too many other stories are told by Paul Marshall, Lela Gilbert and Nina Shea in their book Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians.
“Our Christianity,” they write, “doesn’t require us to keep looking over our shoulders, unsure if we will be arrested for praying or attacked for having a Bible.” But the majority of the world’s 2.2 billion Christians do look over their shoulders. They have to.