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Photo: Release International

Eritrean security forces have arrested 185 Christians following a raid on a prayer meeting. Most of those arrested were women. It's believed that these Christians had gathered in the suburb of Maitemenai (north of the capital, Asmara) to pray about the dangerous exodus of Eritreans from the country. "The arrest has alarmed underground church leaders who fear that this may be a sign of things to come," states Paul Robinson, Chief Executive Officer of Release International in the United Kingdom. He adds that "church leaders fear this mass arrest could herald a new clampdown on Christians and a wave of further detentions."

Eritrea is currently detaining more than a thousand Christians because of their faith. Many others face harassment and other forms of persecution. While the whereabouts of the latest detainees has not been officially confirmed, their relatives believe some are being held at a police station in an adjoining district of Edaga Hamus.

In 2002, the Eritrean government shut down all churches not belonging to the Orthodox, Catholic and Lutheran denominations, and has since been arresting leaders not affiliated with these religious groups. Severe restrictions have also been imposed on the permitted denominations, ensuring that outspoken leaders are persecuted. The UN's Special Rapporteur on human rights reports that thousands of Eritreans are fleeing their country every month, despite an alleged 'shoot-to-kill policy' which was reportedly implemented in an effort to thwart citizens who are attempting to leave.

For a recently aired 10-minute audio news interview on the plight presently facing Christians in Eritrea, please go to online audio file. If you are seeking a way to help our suffering Eritrean brothers and sisters in Christ, you may do so through VOMC's Underground Church Fund.

Just as God safely led the Israelites out of captivity during an extremely volatile time in ancient history, may the same be true for these modern-day believers whose lives are dangerously at risk. Likewise, pray for His supernatural provision to be made available to them -- whether it be practical necessities such as food, clean drinking water, and a safe warm place to lay their heads; or the spiritual fortitude and faith to continue on another day. May their courage and long-suffering be rewarded in ways that far exceed their greatest expectations (Ephesians 3:20).