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Five Christians training to be pastors were arrested recently in Asmara. While the detention of believers is not uncommon in Eritrea, this case is unique in that these Christians belong to the Lutheran church -- one of the four legally recognized religious communities in the country. (The other three "legal" groups are the Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church and Sunni Islam.)

Petros Yosief, Bemnet Tesfay, Aklilu Tesfay, Ermias Hadgu and Aron Mehretu were detained at a police station shortly after their church announced on April 20th that the five would be ordained.

"This arrest clearly shows that even officially sanctioned churches are not immune from government interference," a source noted. Another added: "The arrest of these pastoral candidates reminds us of one of the greatest challenges the churches in Eritrea face. Due to the constant turnover of pastors (due to arrest or threats), continuous and Biblically consistent pastoral care for Christians is hampered."

Please intercede on behalf of the five recently arrested Christians, asking God to grant them His peace and strength. May these believers soon be released so that they may serve God by providing needed leadership and support to His people. Until then, ask Him to give them opportunities to share the Gospel with the authorities and officials who are detaining them. Also remember the thousands of other believers who are currently languishing in prisons in Eritrea, asking that they be encouraged to continue looking to the Lord for perseverance, grace and their anticipated release.

To learn more about the dangers believers are facing in Eritrea, please visit our Eritrea Country Report.

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

  • More Church Leaders Detained
    Church building
    A church in Eritrea

    In 2002, the government of Eritrea outlawed every religion except for Sunni Islam, Eritrean Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism and Lutheranism. Since then, the oppression against other religious groups has been severe. Even those within the approved faith groups have been at risk of op

    ...
  • Twenty Years of Oppression
    Eritrean Bible
    Photo: VOMC

    In May 2002, the Eritrean government closed all unregistered churches and established legislation outlawing any religious community except for Sunni Islam, Eritrean Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism and Lutheranism. Government oppression and control was strongly instituted, even within these

    ...
  • 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

    ...