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Eritrea

According to an October 30 report from Compass Direct, government forces have sealed a complex in the Eritrean capital of Asmara that has been rented to the Full Gospel Church for use as their headquarters and meeting place for the past eleven years. On September 17, 2002, soldiers entered the complex and refused to leave, declaring it government property. Since then, five soldiers have remained in a section of the complex. On October 15, government forces ordered the church staff and members to hand over the building, saying that the church had violated presidential directives and was involved in an illegal "cell-group" ministry. On October 26, the building was completely sealed and church members were refused entrance.

The Eritrean government refuses to recognize the Full Gospel Church and a dozen other independent Protestant churches with a combined membership of around 20,000 members. Since May 2002, all of these churches have been ordered to close their church buildings and stop both public and private meetings.

Christians in Eritrea face constant harassment and the threat of imprisonment for their faith. On September 7, twelve young people were arrested and were told they would only be released when they deny their faith. At last report, the twelve remain in custody, refusing to deny Christ. On October 5, the police pressured their parents to persuade their children to sign the denial. According to a fellow evangelical, "These arrested Christians don't care about what happens to themselves but many are worried about what might happen to their parents now."

In August, sixty-two young people were arrested for possessing Bibles at the Sawa summer military camp. All but six have been released, and none of those freed will discuss the terms of their release. At present, there are 230 known evangelicals in prison for their faith. The government denies that there is any religious persecution in Eritrea.

Pray for spiritual, physical, and emotional strength for those in prison for their faith in Eritrea. Pray for their families and for the many Christians harassed and not allowed to worship freely. The Voice of the Martyrs would urge you to write a polite letter to the Eritrean embassy or consulate in your country, protesting their mistreatment of evangelical Christians. You can find contact information at http://www.un.int/eritrea/world.

 

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

  • Christians Arrested During Prayer Meeting
    Several rusty shipping containers - Photo: VOMC
    Prison officials continue to hold detainees in cramped, unsanitary shipping containers.
    Photo: VOMC

    In mid-March, 29 evangelical Christians were arrested when Eritrean security forces raided a home prayer meeting in Asmara. According to reports, 17 women and 12 men were taken to the Mai Serwa prison

    ...
  • Fifteen Christians Rearrested
    Video: Kidane Gebremeskel Gedion
    Click to view video.

    Eritrean authorities recently arrested 15 Christians during a series of raids on their houses in the capital city of Asmara. All 15 believers had been previously imprisoned for their faith – some for up to 16 years.

  • Three Elderly Pastors Arrested
    Georgio Gebreab and Samuel Okbamichael - Photos: Church in Chains
    Georgio Gebreab and Samuel Okbamichael
    Photos: Church in Chains

    Three semi-retired pastors in the Eritrean capital of Asmara were arrested towards the latter part of July. Since they were all over 70 years old, and only occasionally conducted funeral or wedding services, it is unclear why these elde

    ...