Date: August 7, 2014
While Eritrea celebrated its independence day on May 24, thousands of detained Christian Believers remained anything but free. Once called “God’s land” by ancient Egyptians, the land of Eritrea today is called the “North Korea” of Africa.
Although approximately one half of Eritrea’s population is said to be Christian, this young democracy still rates number 12 on the Open Doors World Watch List that ranks countries for Christian persecution.
The Eritrean Orthodox Church claims its origins from the apostle Philip the Evangelist, and the Coptic Church has dominated the religious landscape. However, when Eritrea became independent from Ethiopia in 1993, the new nation’s communist regime fiercely restricted religious freedom and has controlled nearly every aspect of society. In 2002, Eritrea issued a decree outlawing all religious organizations other than the Eritrean Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church, and Islam.
Nevertheless, even leading members of the Eritrean Orthodox Church are currently imprisoned, including the Patriarch of the Eritrean Orthodox Church, Abune Antonio. In May, five leaders of the Evangelical Lutheran Church were also detained.
All other religious organizations have fled underground. Christian Believers of other denominations suffer house raids, arrest, interrogation, and systematic torture, sometimes leading to paralysis and death during the long detentions. Thousands have fled Eritrea in pursuit of religious freedom, but must navigate capture by human trafficking rings.
- PRAY for the thousands of Christian Believers in prison that they will have a bold and effective witness (The Bible, Acts 16:29-34).
- PRAY that Eritrea’s government will restore religious freedom (The Bible, Jeremiah 34:8).
- PRAY for harvest among the Eritrean diaspora (The Bible, Matthew 9:37-38).