Eritrea (MNN) — For more than 20 years, the government of Eritrea has persecuted Eritrean evangelicals. Right now, at least 220 are languishing in prisons with terrible living conditions.

Some of these prisoners are housed in shipping containers, vulnerable to harsh temperatures. These detention camps lack adequate food and sanitation, leaving prisoners open to threats like COVID-19, according to a report from Amnesty International.

Why the hostility?

Dr. Brehane Esemelash runs a ministry for Eritrean Christians out of London. He tells The Voice of the Martyrs Canada that Eritrean leaders want to be worshipped, not simply obeyed.

“Because as evangelicals, we see all Christians, the global, worldwide Church. All Christians are our brothers and sisters. That makes the Eritrean leaders insecure. They want to isolate their own people from the outside influence,” Esemelash says.

“They want you to believe what they say over their TVs and radios. In Eritrea, there is only one TV station and one radio station.”

Eritrean authorities went after the local Orthodox church as well, but Dr. Esmelash said their leadership structure made it easier to control. “The hierarchy goes strictly from up, down. So if they control the leadership, they will control the whole communication.”

Eritrean Christians

Eritrean Christians persevere in the face of oppression. Dr. Esmelash spent time in an Eritrean prison, and he knows others who have as well. He even knows people who have been martyred for their faith in Jesus.

If these people had a second chance, they would still make the same decision. Dr. Esmelash says, “Because they wanted to die for the person who died for them. Jesus gave His life for our sake. It’s the same as Christians in the New Testament, like Stephen when he was stoned to death.”

Ask God to protect and strengthen Eritrean Christians.


Header image is a representative stock photo courtesy of Silvia De Giovanni/Pixabay.