The Eritrean government is intensifying its efforts to crackdown on Christianity, jailing nearly 2,000 Christians held most indefinitely and without charge.
The small East African nation of Eritrea was recently listed by Open Doors USA as one of the top three countries this year for Christian persecution, along with North Korea and Indonesia. According to a recent estimate, about 1,778 Christians may currently be detained in Eritrea, reported Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW).
Persecution of Christians has increase to the extent that even the government-sanctioned Orthodox Church has been affected. Its Patriarch, Abune Antonios, was stripped of all administrative duties and placed under virtual house arrest this year, primarily for refusing to close down the Medhane Alem Church, CSW reported.
In addition, the government in October unexpectedly asked the Indian pastor of St. Georges Anglican Church in Asmara to leave the country when the church had begun to draw large numbers of young Eritreans to its services.
CSW also reported that many of the Christians detained in Eritrea are held at military bases.
In one case, Full Gospel Pastor Abraham Belay has reportedly been transferred to Wia, one of the hottest places on earth to undergo military training despite the fact that ministers of the gospel are meant to be exempt from military services.
Should war commence, it is feared that these Christians will be conscripted into the army and may face the prospect of being placed in the most dangerous areas of any frontline in order to both test their loyalty and ensure their deaths, CSW warned.
Christians who fought in the last war with Ethiopia indicate that this has happened and was common practice.
CSW requests to please pray for:
For a lowering of tension on the Ethiopia-Eritrea border, and that Ethiopia would finally accept and demarcate the border as internationally agreed
For all those detained in Eritrea, that God would strengthen them and that they may have the assurance of His peace, love and close presence during this season
For a change of heart on the part of the Eritrean government, and the return of religious freedom and other human rights guaranteed by the Eritrean constitution
For Eritrean refugees in African countries, that they may know God's protection, comfort and provision
For vulnerable Christians throughout the world, that God would watch over and protect them so they can celebrate Christmas without fear of attack or harassment