ERITREA — Twenty years ago, the Eritrean government brought in restrictions that allowed only Orthodox, Catholic and Lutheran churches. When Yael* was 8 months pregnant, her husband was imprisoned for belonging to another Christian denomination. But even during that time of trial, Yael knows that she was sustained by God and by the prayers of His people.
Yael* – name changed for security reasons:
“It is very hard for Christians to live in Eritrea. Because no spiritual meeting is allowed, whether it is a Bible discussion or prayer meeting. We plan our Christian activities very carefully. That includes choosing the places where we meet the people we invite.
“You cannot let strangers into the meeting. And while walking to and from the meeting place everybody makes sure that they are not detected by the national security. If they catch you taking part in these things you will immediately be arrested.”
Twenty years ago the Eritrean government brought in restrictions that only allowed Orthodox, Catholic and Lutheran churches. Christians like Yael from other denominations face intrusive surveillance and risk arrest and imprisonment. They are often locked up for an unknown period of months or even years for without any official charge.
“One time when my husband was walking to work they arrested him and brought him back home. At that time I was pregnant. I had an eight-month old baby in my womb. Then they searched all over the house. They were looking for evidence but they didn’t find any. Then they took a blanket for my husband and they told me which police station they were taking him to and they left.”
When Christians are imprisoned in Eritrea, it is not only they who suffer, but their loved ones too. Families often lose their breadwinners and can feel isolated and pressured by family and community.
“He was in prison for one year and nine months. That time was not easy. There were many moments when I needed my husband to be by my side like during and after the delivery of my baby. If your husband is in prison, you are indirectly involved in his suffering. Because you do not know what is happening to him or when he will be released, you always worry about him.
“I had family pressure too. They are not in Christ. So it was hard to explain the reason he was in prison. Many of our family were repeatedly asking, ‘Why does he not deny Christ and get released?’
“This was a great pressure at this time. When he was released from prison we had great joy in our home. But my son did not recognize his daddy. His mind was overwhelmed with questions like, ‘Why is that man in our house?’”
Even during that time of trial, Yael knows that she was sustained by God and by the prayers of His people.
“Now when I think back about that period I can only say that the grace and power of God were abundant over me. And above all, there were Christian brothers and sisters who were always reassuring and supporting me. Since your prayer is a great help in our persecution. I would beg you to keep praying for us until the end. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. And your prayer is really helping in many ways in our daily lives.”
About Open Doors UK
For over 60 years, Open Doors has worked in the world’s most oppressive countries, empowering Christians who are persecuted for their beliefs. Open Doors equips persecuted Christians in more than 60 countries through programs like Bible & Gospel Development, Women & Children Advancement, and Christian Community Restoration.
- Global News Alliance, Eritrean Christian Mother is Left Alone While Husband is Imprisoned
- Open Doors UK, Official Website