NEW

Letter: Evangelical BINOs?

Letter Evangelical BINOs? Dear Editor, Your editorial on the Rise of the BINO (Bishop in Name Only) highlighted what church members have observed many years, how bishops have kept their titles, robes and status while emptying their role of defending and upholding...

Who’s Who at St Hugh’s? Secret Conversations on Sexuality Come to Light

Who’s Who at St Hugh?Secret Conversations on Sexuality Come to Light Recent correspondence and blog posts have revealed the existence of a hitherto-secret meeting between conservative/evangelical groupings and liberal/progressive bishops, seeking to reach structural...

Book Reviews: Baptism & Confirmation & Patterns for Baptism

Book Reviews Baptism and Confirmation Church House Publishing, 2022 (ISBN: 9780715123522, 468pp, £40) Patterns for Baptism Church House Publishing, 2022 (ISBN: 9780715123492, 392pp, £25) These handsome volumes are the latest additions to Common Worship, the Church of...

The Diverse Excellencies of Jesus Christ: Gospel-Driven Anglicanism

Gospel-Driven Anglicanism By the Revd Dr Mark Pickles The Diverse Excellencies of Jesus Christ  The American Theologian and Pastor, Jonathan Edwards (1703 -1758), once preached a sermon entitled “The Admirable Conjunction of Diverse Excellencies in Jesus Christ”. The...

The Cancelling of the Creator

The Cancelling of the Creator The headline from a national newspaper popped up on my phone: “Daniel Radcliffe is surely the world’s most ungrateful man”. It’s not a title many would be scrambling to win for themselves, but the opinion-piece made the case. Daniel...

Melville-Knox Christian School Opens in Aberdeen

Melville-Knox Christian School Opens in Aberdeen Melville-Knox Christian School Aberdeen officially opened on Monday 7th November after years of prayer, planning and organisation. We give thanks to the Lord that we have been able to reach this significant milestone;...

Barnabas Report: At Least 21 Christians Killed in Mozambique

Barnabas Report At Least 21 Christians Killed in Mozambique During October At least 21 Christians have been killed by Islamist extremists in violent attacks throughout October in northern Mozambique. Jihadists set fire to a church building and several houses in the...

Sanctuary Foundation Offers Free Advent Resource

Sanctuary Foundation Offers Free Advent Resource  Sanctuary Foundation has been aiding those trying to offer assistance for those fleeing the war in Ukraine through its, “Homes for Ukraine” scheme.  The charity has been serving as a liaison by resourcing hosts and...

Annual Clive West Memorial Lecture Set for Belfast

Annual Clive West Trust Lecture Set for Belfast The 2022 Clive West Trust Lecture will take place on Thursday, 22 November at St Nicholas’ Church on the Lisburn Road in Belfast at 19:30. This year’s featured speaker is the Revd Dr Tim Ward.  Ward earned his PhD from...

Church of England Council Rejects Croft’s Position

Church of England Evangelical Council Rejects Croft’s Position In a press statement following the pronouncements of Steven Croft, Bishop of Oxford, the Church of England Evangelical Council repudiated the departure of biblical teaching advocated by Croft. It said,...

Open Doors Reports on Persecution in Eritrea

Open Doors Reports on Persecution in Eritrea

ERITREAN CHRISTIANS MARK 20 YEARS OF CHURCH CLOSURES 

Christians in Eritrea mark 20 years of state persecution this month. The East African dictatorship shut down most of its churches in May 2002, outlawing every religion except Sunni Islam, Eritrean Orthodox, Roman Catholicism and the Lutheran Church.

And today, 20 years later, the persecution continues. Release International is calling for full religious freedom in the country, which has been described as the North Korea of Africa. 

‘Eritrea is like a giant prison,’ says Release partner Dr Berhane Asmelash. ‘The country is filled with jails. It is like North Korea.’

The government has closed many Evangelical and Pentecostal churches. And even registered churches come under tight control.

Banned

Christians who continue to worship in banned congregations are regarded as enemies of the state. And believers in the armed services caught practising their faith face imprisonment.

Estimates vary as to the number of Christian prisoners in Eritrea. According to partners of Release International there are still an estimated 220 Christians behind bars. In March 2022, Eritrea jailed 29 Christians, after police raided a prayer meeting in a private house.

 

‘Christians are the most persecuted group. It is because they won’t stop gathering and won’t stop worshipping,’ says Dr Berhane. ‘It is beyond the government’s control.’

Most Christian prisoners are believed to be Pentecostal or Evangelical. Many are detained indefinitely and have been held for more than a decade, often without charge at locations kept secret from their families. The authorities refuse to release records.

Torture

Some Christian prisoners have been kept in shipping containers, exposed to the searing desert heat by day and cold by night. Some are beaten and tortured to try to force them to renounce their faith.

The prison authorities ban praying aloud, singing, preaching or reading religious books.

One Christian prisoner, ‘Elsa’, said: ‘We were kept in underground cells. Sometimes the guards put us in a metal shipping container to torture us. This became so hot during the day, and then in the night it became freezing cold. We didn’t get much to eat and there was no medical treatment.

‘The guards offered to let us go, but only if we renounced our faith in Jesus. We said no.

‘One evening we were taken into the bush, and I knew we were going to be beaten. They were going to inflict as much pain on us as they could. The guards took it in terms to beat us. I will never forget hearing the screams of my sister. I never saw her again.’

Eritrea broke free from Ethiopia in 1991 after a 30-year war for independence. Since 1993 the country has been ruled by a dictatorship, under the authoritarian president Isaias Afwerki and his party, the Popular Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ).

Christianity took root in the region in the 4th century. Today, Eritrea is usually considered evenly split between Muslims and Christians, although Pew Research estimates almost 63 per cent to be Christian.

Previous

Next