Eritrean Christians are calling for a worldwide day of prayer and fasting for Christians prisoners in Eritrea on Aug. 5, according to a UK-based Christian persecution watchdog group.
In a letter to the international Christian community, the organizers of a Day of Christian Prisoners belonging to Erishalom Ministries expressed their urgent need for help from the worldwide church.
Throughout the Bible, whenever Christians are in any kind of difficult situation, the whole Church would pray as one without ceasing, said the coalition of Eritrean Christians, some of whom work underground in Eritrea, while others are living abroad.
The group has requested similar action on behalf of Eritreas detained Christians.
On this special day, we are calling all to pray and fast for Christians and Ministers of the gospel who are behind bars of Eritrean Prisons, the organizers stated in their website, www.erishalom.com. Through the information we are getting everyday [ ] we have learnt that the condition of Christians who are detained is getting worse and worse.
We are calling all to join in prayer and fasting with Churches worldwide and with different Humanitarian organizations in one spirit.
According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide, which reported on the call for prayer, many Eritrean Christians have been mistreated in detention as the authorities have sought to force them to renounce their faith. Persecution is particularly acute within the armed forces where Christian gatherings and reading the Bible have been forbidden since the mid-1990s.
The treatment of Christians and many others in Eritrea today is morally outrageous, commented CSWs Chief Executive, Mervyn Thomas. The wider church must heed the call for help from our Eritrean family to stand with them in prayer.
CSW reports that some 500 Christians are currently imprisoned in Eritrea. The most recent arrests occurred on July 8, when 18 Christian college students from Halhale College in the capital Asmara were detained as they left examination halls after their final exams.
In a separate incident, Christian university Professor Semere Zayid, was re-arrested on July 6. In February, Zayid had been detained for four weeks and released, but was obliged to report to the police at regular intervals.
Recent reports from Eritrea also indicate that the authorities may be arresting the families of young people who have managed to flee the country. According to a report posted on an Eritrean website, eyewitnesses have told of the arrests of 700 to 800 parents and relatives, and of people being dragged into army trucks by officials who insist that they are responsible for the actions of their children.
The Christian Post has not yet confirmed the validity of these reports.