Eritrea believers imprisoned with no sentence

By September 21, 2009

Eritrea (MNN) — For over seven years now, since May 2002,
evangelical believers in Eritrea have been under persecution. Around 2800 sit
in prison cells, military and labor camps, or metal shipping containers because
prisons have run out of cells.

Aside from Orthodox, Catholic and Lutheran, any Christian
gathering has been deemed "illegal" there because they have not been registered.
However, Paul Estabrooks with Open Doors said that on numerous occasions they have
tried to register, but they have hit roadblocks or the government has not
allowed them.

Sadly, the situation has only grown worse. On September 6,
the Eritrean government met together to discuss the growing numbers of arrests.
The numbers concerned them because it indicated  that people still continue to meet and
worship. In response, the government met and "called on all the citizens of the country to
inform the police of any illegal gatherings of Christians in their
neighborhoods," Estabrooks said.

Naturally, this has increased fear among Christians.
However, as the government suspected, the church has been growing, albeit in a limited,
covert way.

Estabrooks said believers expend a lot of energy keeping
their worship secret while still maintaining their witness and sharing Christ
with those around them. He said the church has remained strong, but believers are
still under a significant amount of pressure. He also said Satan is using every
tactic he can against them, especially intimidation.

In addition to the recent government crackdown, another believer died just
recently while imprisoned. Because of horrible living conditions and lack of
medical attention, Mesfin Gebrekristos died of meningitis. He left behind a
wife and two children. Gebrekristos is the fourth believer to die this year
and the tenth since the government started imprisoning Christians.

Estabrooks asked for people to pray diligently for the
non-imprisoned believers in Eritrea. Pray for their continued strength and
boldness.

"We've been asking
for prayer for those in prison, for the family members of those in prison, and
even for the government that God would miraculously somehow bring them to
repentance," Estabrooks said.

Though prayer is the
most important, you can also visit the Open Doors Web site to get involved in a
writing campaign to encourage the families of those imprisoned.

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