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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.