The sons of a Christian woman who was martyred for her faith in Ethiopia have embraced Christ after witnessing the faith and courage of their mother.
Persecution watchdog Open Doors USA shared the story of a woman named Workitu, who converted from Islam to Christianity last August.
Her husband, a devout Muslim, was angered by his wife's decision, and regularly beat her, threatening to kill her unless she returned to Islam. She also received continual threats from her local community.
Workitu told her church leaders that her husband threatened to kill her unless she returned to Islam, and they advised her to report this to authorities in writing. In February, she wrote a letter to police and local government officials to report the abuse, telling them she feared for her life. However, according to sources, officials ignored her request for protection and now deny ever having received the letter.
In March, Workitu's husband and a neighbor demanded that she sell government drought relief aid she had collected earlier for her family. When she refused, they began to beat her, and didn't stop even after she had collapsed.
Villagers took Workitu to a clinic in a nearby town, but after four days she was referred to another hospital. She died in transfer, five days after the attack.
However, what man meant for evil, God meant used good. Two of Workitu's sons, Mustafa (in his twenties) and Kedir (17), moved by the incredible witness of their mother, accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, as did one of Workitu's friends from the village.
"Their mother was the only Christian in their family and the boys told the Christian leaders they want to know more about the Lord their mother worshipped," notes the report.
A local evangelist compared Workitu to the Apostle Stephen, the first martyr of Christianity. According to the account found in Acts, Stephen was stoned to death for his faith. As he was dying, Stephen prayed to God to receive his spirit, and further asked God not to hold the sin against his killers.
"[Workitu's] death was honored by the bringing of her sons to new life," said the evangelist. "I know she would have been extremely delighted had she witnessed her son's' decision to follow Christ."
Open Doors has ranked Ethiopia #18 on its World Watch List of countries where Christians face the most persecution.
"Ethiopia has many tribes...[who are] not necessarily favorable to Christianity, and in some places like Afar and the Somali regions, tribes are interconnected with Islam," notes the report. "The ruling party in the country has blocked all the channels for freedom of expression and assembly, and has also tried to control all religious institutions in a bid to curb dissent."
Open Doors encourages Christians to pray that God will continue to comfort to Workitu's sons, and to pray for God's grace to this Christian community that is facing increasing persecution.