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ICC Note

Eritrea is one of the world’s most repressive regimes. Since its decree in May 2002, there have only been 4 state sponsored religions allowed. These include the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church, the Eritrean Catholic Church, the Evangelical Lutheran church, and Islam. For anyone outside of these faiths, life is very hard. One mother, “Ruth”, describes what life is like trying to raise her children Christian. Her husband, who had been a pastor before the reform, was arrested years ago and has not been allowed to see his family since.

 

2017-10-11 Eritrea (OpenDoors) We sat down recently with Ruth, a wife to an imprisoned church leader and mom in her 30s, in a secret location. A scarf covering her head, no one can hear what she shares with us.

We assure Ruth we will do whatever we can to protect her identity as she gives us a peek into her life as a Christian in Africa’s most repressive state—Eritrea.

At first, her words come hesitantly, each carefully considered. But then, as she relaxes, the words flow easier, even eagerly, like passengers emerging from a long journey in a packed train. She is free at last to utter those things that have been kept inside far too long.

“I was born into a Christian family. But in 1994, when I was in my teens, I entered into a personal relationship with Christ and started following Him wholeheartedly. At the time of my salvation, the church in Eritrea still enjoyed freedom, and wonderful things happened. Many people got saved, and there was great joy. Since then, I have come to know what it is to worship God in freedom and in secret.”

 

PRESSURE FROM THE STATE

But eight years later, the government closed all independent churches. It ushered in a time of severe suffering for all those who chose to worship outside of the state sanctioned Islam or Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Evangelical Lutheran churches.

“I married a God-fearing man—a church leader—the year after the church was closed. God blessed us with three children. But the government closed our church and eventually imprisoned my husband.”

Life has become extremely difficult, she explains. Christians do whatever they can to support one another, but everyone is in strife.

“Now, I always worry about him and wonder how he is. I also find it unbearable to see how my three young children miss him. They always cry for baba (Daddy). They sometimes perform poorly in school because they miss their dad so much. It is so hard to care for them by myself. I long for the day that my husband and I can be present together in their lives.”

 

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