Serving Persecuted Christians Worldwide - Eritrea - Open Doors UK & Ireland


World Watch ranking: 6
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President Isayas Afewerki

How Many Christians?
2.5 million (47%)

Main Threats
  • Government opposition
  • Government surveillance
  • Anti-Christian violence

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How many Christians are there in Eritrea?

Christians make up almost half the population in Eritrea – 2.5 million from a population of 5.3 million. Muslims make up approximately the same percentage.

Why are Christians persecuted in Eritrea?

Christians who aren’t members of state-approved churches are considered agents of the West and a threat to the state. That means some denominations are recognised by the government, including the Eritrean Orthodox Church (EOC) – but these are tightly controlled by the government. The EOC sees the growing number of evangelicals as a threat, and Christians face severe consequences if they criticise President Isayas Afewerki or his party.

Meet Eyal*

“We are receiving Jesus Christ for eternity, at the same time we prepare for suffering also.” Eyal, Church Leader

What’s life like for Christians in Eritrea?

Anybody who is believed to have criticised the government is likely to be severely punished – and following an unapproved Christian denomination is considered anti-government. This means that hundreds of Christians are arrested and imprisoned, including  141 in May 2019 and 30 the following month. Some prisoners are held in shipping containers in scorching temperatures.

Eyal, who has now been released, talks about being severely beaten with rods, kept in chains and treated without any human dignity. “I cannot believe I survived that,” he says. “Really, it was only by the grace of the Lord.” Eyal still sees a bright future for the church in Eritrea. He knows that Eritreans are often choosing suffering when they choose Jesus, but as 1 Peter 5:10 says, “The God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”

In recent months, the Eritrean government has also ceased control of church-run schools and hospitals and shut them down. This is believed to be in retaliation for bishops making a public call for government reforms.

How can I help Christians in Eritrea

Please keep praying for your brothers and sisters in Eritrea. Your gifts and prayers make an enormous difference to those following Jesus no matter the cost.

Open Doors partners with the local church in Eritrea to provide practical assistance to persecuted Christians, support Bible and discipleship training, and raise awareness and prayer.

*Name changed for security reasons

Is it getting harder to be a Christian in Eritrea?

Eritrea has risen one place in the World Watch List, largely because there has been an increase in violence. The greatest threat in the country, however, remains the impact of government policy.

please pray

Lord, Eritrea is often called the African North Korea. We pray that You would move powerfully against this oppressive government regime, and that our brothers and sisters would have the freedom to worship You and tell others the full truth of the gospel. Break down strongholds in Eritrea, we pray.

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