Eritrea – persecution and death for non state approved Christian denominations

Photo credit gatewaynews.co.za see also this story from March of this year – Eritrea jails 125 Christians in campaign against ‘illegal’ worship

For us, this is reminiscent of Communist Romania, where the only recognized religion during the communist regime which ended in 1989, was the Orthodox Church. All others were persecuted, economically deprived, not allowed to attend universities and not considered for good, high paying jobs.

Open Doors USA is reporting the death of a 41 year old man who recently converted to Christianity, died in a Medefera prison after being held there since December. Curiously, of the Protestant denominations, Eritrea only approves of the Catholic Church and Lutherans. Here is the story from Mission Network News:

Eritrea, which ranks #10 on the Open Doors World Watch List of countries with the worst persecution of believers. Yosief is the 24th reported death connected to punishment for religious activities outside of the government-sanctioned Catholic Church, Orthodox Church, Lutheran Church, and Islam.

Sources told Open Doors that Yosief, 41, had been sick for a long time, but that the harsh treatment at a secret Medefera incarceration center aggravated the effects of the unknown disease.

However, because of the government’s secrecy surrounding prisoners and denied access to watchdog organizations, there may be many more deaths and burials that have not been reported.

Yosief was originally from Asmara. He went to Mendefera to teach at a primary school some time prior to his arrest. Six months after his arrival, Yosief came to faith in Christ. His devotion to Bible study and prayer caught the attention of representatives of the ruling Eritrean People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (EPRDF) at the school.

Authorities arrested him in December and took him to the secret incarceration center in Mendefera where he was kept incommunicado. Sources told Open Doors the center holds many other religious prisoners whose whereabouts were previously unknown to family members and churches.

„Christians should be hugely encouraged to see how God through His Holy Spirit enables His children even new–and isolated ones like Yosief–to remain firm in their devotion to Christ no matter the circumstances,” commented an Open Doors team member.

Please pray for other Christians incarcerated in Eritrean prisons. Pray for the Holy Spirit to give believers strength and peace.

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