Many Christians are aware of the extreme persecution that Christians face in countries like North Korea, Sudan, and Iran. However, we also have brothers and sisters in Christ who face extreme persecution in places that we know very little, or nothing, about. Eritrea is one of those lesser-known places with many unreached. Perhaps because it doesn’t get much air time in the media.
Christians in Eritrea
There is a total population of over 5 million. It is estimated that there are over 2.4 million Christians in the country. Despite this large percentage, Eritrea is a dangerous place to profess Christ. The following information about Eritrea is from the website of Open Doors. It is a ministry that serves the church by shining a spotlight on persecuted Christians. The ministry also identifies ways the church can support followers of Christ around the world.
Human Rights Violations
Since 1993, President Afwerki has overseen an authoritarian brutal regime that rests on massive human rights violations. During the 2019 World Watch List reporting period, government security forces had many house-to-house raids. They also imprisoned hundreds of Christians in inhumane conditions. This includes small shipping containers in scorching heat.
In 2018, Eritrea embraced an end to hostility with both Ethiopia and Somalia. This extreme pressure and state-sanctioned violence are forcing some Christians to flee Eritrea—often called “Africa’s North Korea”—and seek asylum.
How Christians in Eritrea are Suffering
The country forces Christians to join the armed forces. Protestants face big problems accessing community resources, especially social services provided by the state. Individuals from non-traditional church groups, such as evangelicals, face the harshest forms of Christian persecution. They are converts from a Muslim background and cross-denominational converts from an Orthodox background. Both encounter harsh mistreatment from their families and communities.
Thousands of Christians have been arrested and imprisoned over the years. Some have been detained for well over a decade.
Eritrea is the home of the Eritrean Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church defines the Christian history. Other denominations—in particular, Pentecostal churches—are not regarded as legitimate. This exclusion leads to persecution on many fronts for non-traditional believers.
Pray for the Christians in Eritrea
- Thousands of Christians have been imprisoned in Eritrea over the last decade. Some still remain in prison after 10 years. Pray for endurance for brothers and sisters detained in these conditions. Ask God to give them perseverance in their faith.
- Pray for President Afwerki. We pray that God would work in his heart and reveal the truth of the gospel.
- The Orthodox Church in Eritrea acts as an agent of persecution against other Christians. Pray for unity among the Christians of Eritrea. Pray for them to cooperate.
- In 2018, Eritrea embraced an end of hostility with both Ethiopia and Somalia. Thank the Lord for this development. Pray that the opening of the country to the international community leads to a great improvement in the situation of Christians.
For more on how to pray for and serve persecuted Christians around the world, go to Open Doors.