Another crackdown is coming against Christians in Eritrea.

By March 30, 2004

Eritrea (MNN)–The food security situation in Eritrea remains bleak despite a partial improvement last year.

The small country has been fending off military conflict spillover from neighboring countries, along with battling poverty, drought and food shortages.

The physical troubles are just one area that has the country’s leadership’s attention. Another area that has crossed the radar are the evangelical churches.

Unfortunately for the believers, with the outlook so much in want, there is little else to take the scrutiny off the Christians.

For the first time since evangelical Christianity was declared illegal in Eritrea (May 2002), criminal charges have been laid against those who are not a part of the officially recognized churches. Voice of the Martyrs’ Todd Nettleton. “They have allowed four groups to continue to hold public meetings. Those groups are orthodox, Catholic and Lutheran and then Muslims are allowed to hold meetings. So, evangelical Christians have been prevented from meeting publicly for the last two years and those who have continued to meet in homes are now being arrested and rounded up.”

On February 23, ten believers were meeting in a home in the Aba Shwale district of Asmara when they were arrested.

On February 25, VOM got a report on the arrest of fifty-one evangelicals. Forty-six of these remain in prison, likely facing torture.

Earlier this month, Eritrean president Isaias Afwerki warned that efforts to “distract from the unity
of the Eritrean people and distort the true meaning of religion” by these unlawful religious groups would not be tolerated. At least 373 Protestant Christians are presently imprisoned for their faith.

Nettleton explains that while 370 Christians are in jail for their faith, the church is still growing. “The great thing that our team came away with is the sense of unity among the Christian believers in Eritrea. There is just a great sense of working together of all being on the same team, and I think that’s one of the great things that has happened as a result of this persecution.”

Pray for strength and faithfulness for the many believers living in fear of arrest and torture. Pray for endurance for those facing torture for their faith. Pray that the Eritrean government will reverse its decision to outlaw most religious groups.

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