Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Cathedral (1923) in Asmara, Eritrea. (Permission has been granted by David Stanley to use this image) 

A clampdown on believers in Eritrea since the end of Jun has resulted in the imprisonment of at least 150 Christians. The arrests took place in the capital Asmara and Keren, a Muslim dominated city 90km northwest of the capital. The Keren group is being kept in underground tunnels in a deserted area. Government officials also pressured Christian employees in Keren to recant their faith. 

The first arrest took place on Sun, Jun 23rd. Security officials rounded up 70 Christians (35 women, 25 men and 10 children) from the Faith Mission Church of Christ in Keren. This is the only church that has remained open in Asmara’s 2nd city. They also closed the church-run school.

These believers are now kept in very harsh conditions in a prison complex called Ashufera. Situated near the town of Hagaz about 25 km from Keren, it consists of underground tunnels and is far from the main road. This means that anyone who want to visit loved ones there, will have to walk a minimum of 30 minutes to reach the entrance. Inmates are forced to dig additional tunnels when officers need extra space for more prisoners.

Apart from the arrest, officials on Fri, Aug 16th also pressured six Christian government employees from Keren to recant. The employees were taken to what is described as an informal court inside military command centre in Asmara where a judge instructed them to renounce their faith.

“Believers boldly told the court that they will not negotiate their faith and will continue following Jesus. Reportedly, the judge angrily told them to leave and while he considers next steps,” a source who remains anonymous for security reasons, said. They don’t know when to expect his decision.

The intensified government action has sent other Christians from Keren into hiding.

On Sun, Aug 18th, security officials also arrested 80 believers from Godayef, an area of Asmara near the airport. They are held at the local police station. It is not clear if this group also includes children.

PRAYER POINTS

  • Pray for the Lord’s grace to all new prisoners of conscience. Please pray that the Lord will sustain their faith and give them hope. Pray too for provision in their physical needs.
  • Pray for His abundant grace to the children among the prisoners. Pray that He would protect them from learning fear, hatred and unforgiveness there, but instead fill their hearts with His joy and peace no matter how young they are.
  • Pray for many who have languished in jail for a long time to not lose hope. Pray that the Spirit will remind them that they are not alone and that many believers around the world stand with them in prayer.
  • Pray for our Almighty God to be at work in the lives of the government of Eritrea and that He would fulfil His purposes and glorify Himself.

Eritrea ranks no.7 in the WORLD WATCH LIST. Source of persecution: Dictatorial Paranoia / Denominational Protectionism

Open Doors’ goal is to “strengthen what remains and is about to die” (Rev 3:2). Your PRAYER and DONATION is valuable to our persecuted brothers and sisters.

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