ERITREA – Students Imprisoned in Shipping Container, Bibles Burned
On August 5, Eritrean authorities locked eight high school students in a metal shipping container and burned hundreds of Bibles at Sawa Defense Training Centre. According to Compass Direct News, the students were imprisoned in the container after they objected to authorities confiscating and burning 1,500 Bibles taken from new students who arrived at the training center for the new 2008-2009 school year. “During the time that the Bibles were set on fire, the Chief Commander of Sawa, Col. Debesai Ghide, gave a warning to all the students by telling them that Sawa is a place of patriotism, not a place of Pentes [Pentecostals]. Eight male students to whom God gave boldness to speak against the burning of the Bibles have been taken into custody in one of the metal containers that the military uses as prison cells for Christians who have been found practicing in the center,” Compass reported. The Eritrean government cracks down on Christians, often placing believers in metal containers which are extremely hot during the day and cold during night. Nearly 1,800 Eritrean Christians are believed to be under arrest because of their religious beliefs, held in police stations, military camps and prisons in 12 known locations across Eritrea. It is believed more than 28 clergymen are being held. Jailed Christians are routinely subjected to physical beatings and severe psychological pressure to deny their religious beliefs. Police and military authorities continue to demand the prisoners return to one of the three “official” Christian denominations recognized by the government. But even the legally recognized denominations-the nation’s historic Orthodox, Catholic and Lutheran churches-have come under government disfavor in recent years past year, incurring threats and even jailing by security police officials.
ERITREA – Christian Woman Dies in Prison
On July 23, an Eritrean Christian woman, Azieb Simon, died of malaria in the Wi’a Military Training Center after being imprisoned and tortured for months. According to Compass Direct News, “Simon, a member of the Kale-Hiwet Church in Assab, was weakened by the mistreatment she sustained since her arrest in December, 2006. Authorities reportedly refused to treat her for the disease, which she contracted only a week prior to her death. Other Christians imprisoned in the center are under constant pressure to recant their faith.” Compass also reported that eight Christians being held at the Adi-Quala prison were tortured by military personnel at the camp and had to be taken to the medical emergency facilities. Earlier this month in the port city of Assab, 32 Christians were imprisoned and taken to Wi’a Military Training Center. Ask God to fill those who mourn for Azieb Simon with a peace that surpasses understanding. Pray for the safety of those still in prison, and for their quick release. Pray that Eritrean Christians will remain faithful in the face of pressure to deny Christ.
In light of China being in the news, and the Olympics in front of my eyes every night, I (I’m sure you all as well) have been thinking and praying more for the persecuted church. I was reading the other day and was really blessed by a section in the book talking about what suffering and sacrifice really is. Here are a couple quotes.
“Love labors, and if need be, suffers to enthrall us with what is supremely and eternally satisfying, namely, God. This is true for Christ’s love, and it is true for our love. Christ loves by suffering to give us God. We love by suffering to give God to others. Giving ourselves without giving God looks loving o the world, but it isn’t. We are a poor substitute for God. ” “One of the radical implications of this book is that if we would love like Christ, we will bear whatever pains it takes to make Christ’s glory seen. The aim of love – whether by gospel word or giving up our life – is to enthrall the beloved with the glory of Christ in the face of God forever”.
When reading these words, and reading about those being persecuted for Jesus’s sake, it just reminds me again that Jesus (and He only) must be our supreme, all-satisfying, and everlasting Treasure, and he must be shared, and proclaimed to the world around us.