Eritrea Christians’ Feet Held to the Flames

Eritrea brutally oppresses its people and has more than earned its being called the  “The North Korea of Africa,” with an estimated 2,000 Christians, along with others, incarcerated for their faith. The State Department has designated Eritrea  a Country of Particular Concern since 2004 for its religious freedom abuses. USCIRF reports that individuals in Eritrea who protest government actions or follow unapproved religious beliefs may be arrested, tortured, or forcibly disappeared, dismissed from their jobs, and have their bank accounts closed and be spied on by their neighbors.

Eritrean Christians are forbidden to assemble and worship. However, one young woman, Terhas, defied this prohibition, for which she was arrested and hauled away to a prison where she was incarcerated alongside many other women.

“They crammed all of us women into one room where the air was heavy. Many began to have difficulty breathing and some almost suffocated. Since all of us had been taken from work, we did not have resources to assist with our imprisonment. Everyone started to get sick, but we remained cheerful and greeted the guards in the morning with a Christian greeting, “Praise the Lord.” They were furious and told us that we were not allowed to say “Praise the Lord” or use the name of Jesus. Afterwards, they started interrogating us one by one. The examiner was a harsh man who slapped us, insulted us, threatened us, and beat us.  Every night we were asked, “Are you going to leave Jesus?” We would reply, “He is the life. How can we leave life?” This pattern continued, but we remained steadfast in our confession.

Eventually I was released and returned to my home where I continued to meet with other Christians in groups of two or three. One day I was warned by a friend that the security officers were beginning to suspect that I was hosting Christian gatherings at my house. That day I decided to leave Eritrea and escape to Ethiopia. I later learned that I had missed being arrested by three days.”

There has been no improvement in religious freedom and other human rights in Eritrea in recent years, with an increasing number of Eritreans seeking refuge in neighboring Ethiopia and elsewhere. Women like Terhas inspire 21Wilberforce to work year round on behalf of the tens of thousands who are persecuted for their faith worldwide.

Tomorrow is designated as #GivingTuesday. It was created in 2012 as a day that encourages people to do good. Over the past seven years, this idea has grown into a global movement that inspires hundreds of millions of people to give, collaborate, and celebrate generosity. Together, we can give hope to people like Terhas. We need and value your support to help people worldwide who live under the threat of religious persecution.

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