Eritrea (MNN) — Word of an ongoing crackdown on Christians comes out of Eritrea today. Todd Nettleton, spokesman for the Voice of the Martyrs USA tells us, “Just last week, June 3rd, 30 more Christians were arrested. This comes after a couple weeks before [when] 141 Christians in the capital city of Asmara were arrested.”
Trouble in Eritrea
Hundreds of Christians have been arrested and are in prison with no way out. Nettleton says some Christians have been imprisoned for 15 years. In 2002, the current president declared that all independent Protestant Churches as official “enemies of the state.”
“The government sees Christianity as a way that foreign influence comes into the country. They see it as a threat to the government, to their authority. But it’s hard to understand why, over those years, literally thousands of Christians have been arrested. Not a single Christian has been formally charged with a crime. Not a single Christian has had an actual trial,” Nettleton explains.
Once arrested, some Eritrean Christians wind up in shipping containers where they languish for years. Others simply disappear.
Of the shipping containers, Nettleton says, “It’s not a jail. It’s not a place that was built to house people or house prisoners. It’s simply a shipping container that can be locked in and there’s not a bathroom inside of it. There’s very little airflow.”
Remember Those Persecuted
Hebrews 13:3 says, “Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.” (NIV)
In remembering our persecuted family in Eritrea, Nettleton says there are things we can do to help. First, we can pray.
“Pray for these Christians who have just been arrested. Pray for those who have been in prison for years. And pray for their families as they are separated from them.”
Also pray for the encouragement of these Christians, for their sustenance, and their health. Finally, when at a loss for other ways to pray, Nettleton encourages Christians to pray for their persecuted brothers and sisters the way they would want to be prayed for if the roles were reversed.
Another way to get involved is to come alongside ministries who are directly helping.
“Thankfully, Voice of the Martyrs is able to help some of those families of Christians who are in prison in Eritrea and just help encourage them, but also help to meet their very practical day-to-day needs,” Nettleton says.
Find ways to partner with Voice of the Martyrs USA here.
Nettleton also urges believers to let their government officials know they are concerned about the happenings in Eritrea. In doing so, pray for God to guide these leaders.
“There are ways that the American government can bring some pressure to bear, and we need to make sure our elected officials know that we want them to do that. We want them to care about these Christians who have been arrested and imprisoned in Eritrea,” Nettleton explains.
To find how to contact your government officials, click here.
Header photo courtesy of Voice of the Martyrs USA.