11/19/2018 Eritrea (International Christian Concern) – Helen Berhane was imprisoned and tortured in Eritrea for more than two years by government authorities after she refused to stop singing Christian Gospel music. She recently shared her testimony with the BBC on their Heart and Soul Program.
Helen came to know Jesus when she was 8-years-old. During that time, her mom, dad, and sister were all in prison for political matters. Growing up, Helen always loved to sing. She told the BBC that when she sang, “the sadness disappeared.”
By age 14, Helen was writing her own worship music. By age 18, she was preaching in the streets and claimed the government had no problem with her preaching. That was until 2002, when the laws changed surrounding religious freedom and she was arrested for preaching.
In May 2004, the government closed down Helen’s church. As a result, Helen decided to start recording her worship songs so that even though the church could not gather together, they could still listen to worship music. Helen was arrested shortly after releasing a Christian Gospel CD.
During her imprisonment, Helen sang in her jail cell. She shared that her jail cell was a dark and cold metal container. The prison she was in offered her little to no food and no bathroom to use. With no blanket to keep her warm, chained to a wall, she sang loudly in worship to God. She told the BBC that through her signing “the Holy Spirit covered all the pain I had.”
“Eritrea prison is like hell on earth!” Helen told the BBC. At any moment she could have been freed if she signed a document denying Jesus as Lord. Helen refused. She said that she knew God has called her to more.
Days before her release, she was taken away from her jail cell and was beaten with black rods, turning her body black and blue. Even in the midst of the beating, she said she continued to sing and turned her eyes to heaven. It was after this beating, she said, that the guards realized they could not do anything to get her to deny her faith.
After her release, she fled from Eritrea to Sudan. Shortly after Helen fled to Sudan, she was able to help her family flee as well. Now, Helen and her family are living in Denmark where she works with children and continues to sing worship music.
Looking back Helen explained to the BBC that throughout her life she has learned that you need to “trust God and worship Him in the storms!”
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