Christians in Eritrea are facing even more persecution

By October 17, 2005

Eritrea (MNN) — Evangelical Christians continue to be the focus of a crackdown in Eritrea. Just days ago 200 Christians were arrested and their church and humanitarian aid program closed in an operation called the worst of its kind. This is just another in a long string of religious freedom violations Eritrea is accused of by human rights observers.

Strategic World Impact has long been a supporter of persecuted Christians there. The agency’s president, Kevin Turner says, one of their workers has felt the pressure. “One of our lead workers over there has been incarcerated for the last 21 days. The situation is bleak. We really need the body of Christ to be praying over the situation.”

Turner says the government’s not responding to world pressure and is actually making it worse for Christians. “The president of Eritrea, he has basically made the Evangelical church enemy number one of the state and is going about on a ruthless campaign to try to eradicate and shut her down.”

Eritrea may be heading down the road many other countries have taken, says Turner. “Eritrea is alienating itself from the international community, joining fellowship and ranks with the groups like North Korea, and Saudi Arabia.”

Turner knows why the church is being persecuted. “Because she has said she will not stop evangelizing. They can be such an encouragement to us because they continue to do that in spite of severe penalties, incredible physical degradation that they face because they feel Jesus is worth it.”

Eritrea, which gained independence from Ethiopia in 1993 after a 30-year war, has been designated by the U.S. as a “country of particular concern” for severe and ongoing violations of religious freedom. That prompted Eritrea to call an end to all USAID, which they desperately need. “Two-thirds of the population of Eritrea is dependant upon international food aid for their existence. All of the indicators right now are saying there will be a massive famine in that country and unbelievable suffering.”

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