Eritrea (VCM/MNN) — Eighty members, including the church's
pastor, Zekarias Abraham, of the Mehrete Yesus Evangelical Presbyterian Church
in the city of Asmara, were arrested by security forces following a worship
service in their sanctuary on April 29, according to sources close to Voice of
the Martyrs' Canada.
Several teachers from India
who were working in Eritrea
and an American couple were also arrested. The Americans, however, were
released on May 3 and allowed to return to their Asmara home.
Following the closure of all the evangelical and charismatic churches in the
nation on May 17, 2002, the Mehrete Yesus Evangelical Presbyterian Church was
one of the few Eritrean churches allowed to function since it fulfilled the
registration formalities demanded by the government.
In addition to his duties as a pastor of the church, Pastor
Zekarias Abraham has also served as the head of the Eritrean Evangelical
Alliance since his predecessor, Dr. Kiflu Gebremeskel, was arrested in May
The Eritrean government
portrayed the arrests as part of a policy to restrict "unregistered
religious worship." With constant
danger present for believers, the "chilling effect'"is growing. When asked what they need most, Penner says
the Christians want only one thing: "'Please pray for us.' This is the only thing that's going to make a
big difference in that country. The Eritrean government is not open, in many
cases, to international pressure, to letter writing campaigns, to
advocacy. They simply ignore what the
rest of the world is saying."
Pray for the release of these prisoners and the approximately 2000 other
Christians presently in detention in Eritrea. Pray that they will
encouraged by the examples of other men and women who have remained faithful in
the face of terrible opposition (Hebrews 12:1-3). Pray that the government of Eritrea will
stop its campaign against Christians and recognize the importance of religious
Click here for more information on the persecution of Christians in Eritrea.