ICC NOTE: Today, an estimated 1800 Christians are in prison for their faith in Eritrea. Please pray for their release and that the government would honor the freedom to worship Christ.
Eritrean Christian Pays High Price For His Freedom
SANTA ANA , CA (July 25, 2006) Daniel (pseudonym) was proud to serve his country and willingly joined his allotted regiment when he received his conscription papers to join the Eritrean army. However, life delivered a sharp lesson as he quickly learned that wearing a smart uniform could never compensate for the loss of his freedom as a Christian.
First, he was commanded to hand over his precious Bible to the army authorities. Next came a demand for his Christian books, tapes and CDs. Praying with other army personnel was also strictly forbidden and eventually Daniel found he had to make a choice forget his relationship with Jesus or face a harsh jail sentence.
Giving up his faith had never been an option and now Daniel viewed his world through the bars of a military jail. Discipline was draconian and life became extremely difficult. His cell was small and he shared it with many other Christians. Eritrean authorities considered confining 15 or even 20 believers in a cell the size of an average American bathroom totally acceptable.
Prison food was scarce and dreadful. One small meal at lunchtime had to suffice, even though Daniel and his cell-mates were forced to toil at heavy manual labor. Even worse, water was kept in short supply. In temperatures that could soar in the 100s, water rations were restricted to just one cup each day, leaving the men parched in the hot sun and all through the long night. Even sleeping at the end of a tiring days labor was never easy. Cell members took turns to lie down in their confined cell space. Most just fell asleep where they slumped as exhaustion overcame their tired bodies.
Daniel was forced to endure frequent beatings, usually three or four each week. Sometimes prison staff savagely used their fists, attempting to break his spirit. On other occasions, large batons replaced fists, cutting deep into his flesh.
Finally, unable to bear further relentless mental and physical abuse, Daniel carefully planned his escape. One day, he seized his opportunity taking his chances when the guards were distracted. Running for freedom, Daniel slipped away from the work party. The next four days were perhaps the hardest yet a relentless trek through wild unyielding bush. Fighting hunger, thirst and the hot sun, a border crossing into Sudan ended Daniels trek and brought freedom.
But with freedom there came a high price. Following his escape, Daniels family received the unwelcome attentions of Eritrea s authorities. Parents, siblings and other family members were rounded up and imprisoned. Daniel has no idea where they are of if they are still alive. But he will never give up hope!