by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) - Christians in Eritrea continue to worship Jesus Christ despite being tortured and imprisoned as enemies of the state, Christian Today reports.
Exactly 20 years the state of Eritrea banned every religion except Sunni Islam and the Eritrean Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Lutheran Churches, CT reports. Evangelical and Pentecostal believers were branded as enemies of the state, and a great many have suffered terrible persecution in brutal conditions because they refused to renounce their faith in Christ.
Dr. Berhane Asmelash, an Eritrean Christian and partner of Release International (RI), told CT: "Eritrea is like a giant prison. The country is filled with jails. It is like North Korea." RI has also received reports of believers being tortured, including being tied up and hung from trees, in mockery of Christ’s crucifixion.
A former Eritrean Christian prisoner known as Elsa (her name was changed to protect her) told CT that prison guards once offered her freedom on the condition she renounce Christ. "We were kept in underground cells,” Elsa said. “Sometimes the guards put us in a metal shipping container to torture us. This became so hot during the day, and then at night, it became freezing cold. We didn't get much to eat and there was no medical treatment. The guards offered to let us go, but only if we renounce our faith in Jesus. We said no.”
"One evening we were taken into the bush, and I knew we were going to be beaten,” Elsa continued. “They were going to inflict as much pain on us as they could. The guards took it in terms to beat us. I will never forget hearing the screams of my sister. I never saw her again."
Despite such intense persecution, Christianity continues to grow. "Christians are the most persecuted group. It is because they won't stop gathering and won't stop worshiping, Dr. Berhane said. “It is beyond the government's control."
Ruled by a Sunni Muslim dictatorship, Eritrea ranks 6th on the US Open Doors World Watch List 2022 of the top 50 countries where Christians are persecuted.