‘We will not negotiate our faith—Christians in Eritrea tell judge they will continue to follow Jesus

September 1, 2019 by Lindy Lowry in Stories of Persecution

“We will not negotiate our faith and will continue following Jesus.”

The bold words of six Christian government employees in Eritrea came on August 16 when officials pressured them to recant. The employees were taken to what is described as an informal court inside a military command center in the capital city of Asmara where a judge instructed them to renounce their faith.

On hearing their response, reportedly the judge angrily told the believers to “leave while he considers next steps,” according to a source who remains anonymous for security reasons.

The incident is part of an intensifying crackdown on Christians in the East African country. Since the end of June, 150 Christians have been arrested in Asmara and Keren, Eritrea’s second-largest city approximately 56 miles northwest of Asmara.

Christian persecution in Eritrea

In what is often called “Africa’s North Korea,” the country that sits on the Red Sea coast oppresses its people, especially Christians. Eritrea is No. 7 on the 2019 World Watch List. Since 1993, President Afwerki, a former revolutionary fighter, has overseen an authoritarian brutal regime that rests on massive human rights violations. And conditions are worsening for Christians there. The country continues to search out and arrest Christians, often imprisoning political prisoners in metal shipping containers. Ex-prisoners report inhumane conditions and brutality. Pray with our brothers and sisters in Eritrea today. Pray that God would work in Afwerki’s heart to reveal the truth of the gospel.

The first arrest took place on Sunday, June 23. Security officials rounded up 70 Christians (35 women, 25 men and 10 children) from the Faith Mission Church of Christ in Keren. This is the only church that has remained open there. They also closed the church-run school.

We know that the group arrested in Keren is being kept in very harsh conditions in a  prison complex called Ashufera near the town of Hagaz about 15 miles from Keren. The complex consists of underground tunnels and is far from the main road.

This means that anyone who wants to visit loved ones there must walk a minimum of 30 minutes to reach the entrance. Inmates are said to be forced to dig additional tunnels when officers need extra space for more prisoners.

The intensified government action has sent other Christians from Keren into hiding.

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