Twenty years ago, the Eritrean government closed all churches in the country that were not Orthodox, Catholic or Lutheran. It led to extreme persecution of Christians and is one of the reasons that Eritrea is listed as the sixth most difficult country in the world to be a believer.
So, what has happened to the Church in the twenty years since churches were closed?
The answer is that the church continues to grow despite the persecution.
The Persecuted Church programme in June hears from three believers (with their faces disguised), talking about what it is like to be a Christian in Eritrea today.
Christian one: We gather in secret to make sure government and other non-believers don’t know about our activities. If the location of our houses is known, we will be arrested, or just taken and disappear. That’s how bad it is.
Christian two: Leaders are arrested but other leaders come. The Church develops leaders and disciples who are not afraid of jail and death.
Christian three: Many people are coming to Christ. The church is growing fast in Eritrea. Believers have a strong bond of love. Persecution inspires Christians to be close to God.
In a new feature on Persecuted Church, the programme talks about modern day martyrs. The story is told of John Chau who believed God called him to go and share the gospel with one of the remotest tribes in the world, who lived on the North Sentinel island, 700 miles off the coast of India. For eleven years John dreamed, planned, prayed and prepared for his trip to the island. He landed on November 17th 2018 and within hours was dead, murdered by the tribesmen.
John’s mission was inspired by a vision of worshiping God with the Sentinelese in heaven. In a letter to his family, he wrote:
Please do not be angry at them or at God if I get killed – rather please live your lives in obedience to whatever he has called you to and I’ll see you again when you pass through the veil. Don’t retrieve my body. This is not a pointless thing – the eternal lives of this tribe is at hand and I can’t wait to see them around the throne of God worshiping in their own language as Revelation 7:9-10 states.
Watch The `Persecuted Church’, presented by Gordon Pettie and Andrew Boyd – dates and times are in the R Times
28 Jul 2022