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On April 9, the Persecution and Prayer Alert reported that 170 Protestant Christians had been beaten, jailed, and threatened by security forces in Eritrea. On April 21, Compass Direct reported on two more attacks within the past week.

In Kushte, a small town ten kilometres from the capital Asmara, a Bible study group was meeting in a home on April 17 when ten individuals, four reported to be Orthodox priests, pushed their way into the room and began beating them with sticks. All fifteen were admitted to hospital, one with a serious eye injury. The fifteen were members of a renewal group within the Orthodox Church.

In a separate incident on eleven members of the Mesert Christos Church in Asmara were detained in their church by security police on April 18. They were released that evening after being warned to not try meeting again.

Though freedom of religion is guaranteed in the Eritrean constitution, only four groups are recognized: Orthodox Christians, Muslims, Catholics and Evangelical Lutherans. Much of the recent persecution is against the independent Pentecostal and charismatic churches which now number around 20,000 members. For the most part, these churches have emerged from a renewal movement within the Orthodox Church which began five years ago.

Pray that those facing persecution for their faith will be able to be an effective witness to those around them, including their persecutors. Pray for those still held without charges for refusing to deny their faith.

Starting this summer, The Voice of the Martyrs will be broadcasting a radio program into Eritrea specifically to encourage persecuted Christians in this east African nation. Current plans are for half of the program to consist of dramatic readings from VOM's best-selling book, "Jesus Freaks" in the Tigringa language. Two years ago, The Voice of the Martyrs published "Jesus Freaks" in Amharic, the main language of neighbouring Ethiopia. Said Glenn Penner, Communications Director of The Voice of the Martyrs, "Persecuted Christians in Ethiopia have found 'Jesus Freaks' to be an incredible source of encouragement. Sharing a common culture and similar persecution, we have been assured by believers from the area that these testimonies will have a similar impact in Eritrea. Eritreans are avid radio listeners and we are convinced that this is the proper strategy for this increasingly 'closed' nation. Of course, no nation is truly closed to the Spirit of God. Pray that these broadcasts will be used mightily by His Spirit."

Country Information

Designation
Persecuted

Population
6,147,398 (July 2021 est.)

Ethnicity (%)
Tigrinya (50), Tigre (30), Saho (4), Afar (4) Kunama (4), Bilen (3), other (5)

Religion (%)
Islam (47.4), Christianity (48.8), other (3.8)

Leader
President Isaias Afworki (1993)

Government type
Presidential republic

Legal system
Mixed legal system of civil, customary, and Islamic religious law

Sources: CIA World Factbook, Operation World

Pray for Eritrea

Ask the Lord to provide imprisoned Eritrean believers a means of escape and a place of safe refuge. Pray for Him to also work deeply in the hearts of the country's governing officials so they will grant His people the freedom to worship Him and glorify His matchless name. Mindful of their own human frailties, may these political leaders realize the need to make Jesus their own personal Saviour and Lord by accepting His gift of eternal salvation.

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Eritrea News

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