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11 Christians arrested in Eritrea’s latest ‘cleansing’

By November 4, 2010

Eritrea (MNN) — The governor of the Southern Zone of Eritrea has ordered a crackdown on
Christians living in his province.

As a result,
Eritrean security officials rounded up Christians from the cities of Mendefera,
Dekemharre and Dibarwa. Greg Musselman
of Voice of the Martyrs Canada says, "Just when you start to think that
perhaps the Eritrean government is going to relax the situation toward
evangelical Christians, those hopes again are dashed."

Police also confiscated TVs, video players and
other electronic equipment that belonged to the Christians.  According to reports from International
Christian Concern and Assist News, most of the detained belong to the Full
Gospel Church, an evangelical church that was among those that were banned by
Eritrean officials in 2002.

11 remain in
detention. Musselman confirms the
situation but observes, "It is so
targeted toward a specific group, that it is sad there has not been more of an
international cry."

Despite information that 3000 believers are being held illegally, the government continues to support its
statement issued in May 2003 that "no groups or persons are persecuted in
Eritrea for their beliefs or religion." 

Information about the arrests and the detentions is hard to
come by. Most often, details of a missing
Christian come only when they've fallen ill in jail. Sometimes, it's just too late. Musselman says, "Evangelicals
have died while they've been in prison. They are offered medical treatment when they are suffering from malaria or
some other sickness IF they recant their evangelical faith, which is seen by
the government as a new religion, tied with the U.S. They see evangelical Christianity as bringing
down the government."

However, in
spite of this news, the Gospel is still going forward.  In fact, years before the crackdowns began, God
directed the churches to go underground. 
There, "Discipleship became very key and center, which it should always
be, but in that case, they were really discipling the next leaders."

When a leader
was arrested, there was already someone there ready to take his place. Musselman
explains that for those who were watching, curiosity kindled a deeper fire. "When
we saw that happening, we thought, ‘There's got to be something more to
this.' They even pursued the Lord and
got into the Bible, and were discipled."

Those who are
free to follow Christ need to come alongside those who have no voice. "We
need to pray that the Lord would comfort our brothers and sisters, to go the
Father and ask that He would strengthen them, and that they would sense our
prayers."

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