Worldwide awareness and involvement are urgent needs for imprisoned Eritrean Christians.

By August 16, 2005

Eritrea/USA (MNN) — Nearly 900 Christians are in prison in the African country of Eritrea. Their crime? Practicing their faith in Jesus Christ. These believers were arrested for meeting secretly for prayer and worship outside the limits of the government-approved churches.

Almost 60 of those prisoners are young people who have been held for more than a year, moved between prisons, military confinement camps and shipping containers.

In response, Open Doors is inviting Christians to support and encourage the suffering Eritrean believers. And especially, “What we’re doing is trying to send out an urgent plea to the young Christians of America about the situation that’s taking place right now in the small African country of Eritrea,” says Open Doors’ Jeff Shreve, coordinator for Underground, a youth ministry of Open Doors.

Through Underground’s ministry outreach, Open Doors is facilitating several ways Christian young people can help imprisoned believers and their families. Shreve says first is simply becoming aware of the situation in Eritrea and how much turmoil the country is experiencing.

Secondly, Shreve says that awareness will hopefully lead to involvement: “We want to see the church and the young Christians of America become aware of the reality of Christian persecution. Our focus is on Eritrea, but this is just a mirror of what is taking place in so many places around the world. And so we want to see them learn what’s going on and get involved.”

Prayer, letter writing and fund-raising are opportunities the Underground is providing for people to become involved. The campaign’s goal is to raise $56,000 (USD) that will help support believers in Eritrea. Purchasing a “Pray for Eritrea” bracelet, a “Underground Citizen Kit” or attending a “Night of Persecution” event are just a few ways Open Doors is helping to raise funds.

Shreve says the funds will go for much-needed encouragement for suffering believers: “The persecution is not stopping, it’s not slowing down. It’s only escalating at this point. And so what we want to do is be sure and strengthen the church that remains, strengthen the pastors, strengthen the families. So a lot of those finances will go towards helping those Christians.”

For more information on gaining greater awareness and becoming more involved in this outreach to Eritrean believers, go to the Open Doors website by following the link above, or visit the Underground’s website at www.undergroundusa.org.

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