Area: 121,100 sq km
Arid, temperate highland plateau and a strategic desert plain along the busy Red Sea Coast shipping lanes.
Population: 5,223,994 Annual Growth: 3.15%
Official language: Tigrinya. Tigre, Arabic and English (especially for secondary and tertiary education) also widely used Languages: 18 All languages
Largest Religion: Muslim
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Evangelicals are growing despite severe persecution. Being officially banned, these groups now operate in underground networks based in homes. Around 20 or more networks are known, but numbers are impossible to ascertain. Pray for these issues:
a) Imprisonment and torture are reality. Key evangelical leaders were imprisoned following the ban on their churches. Since then, arrests have included pastors, prominent evangelicals in society and, more recently, those known to practice their faith. Prison conditions are harsh beatings and agonizing torture techniques cripple many and even lead to death in some cases. Some estimate that over 3,000 Christians are currently in prison. Pray for those in prison, that they may be strengthened and enabled to endure suffering while radiating grace. Pray also for their families, who often find themselves bereft of not only loved ones but usually of the income earner as well.
b) Leadership for the churches. With so many pastors, leaders and evangelists now living outside the country or in prisons, the Church moves forward under new leadership, often young men or new believers, some who encountered Jesus in prison. Pray for them to be full of Gods wisdom as they learn to lead and grow.
c) Ongoing evangelistic outreach. Amid such hardship, the Church has grown rapidly, often most among those fleeing the country, those living in camps in Ethiopia and elsewhere, those in prison and those living abroad. Witnessing Christians, though violently opposed by the authorities, have spread far and wide. Still, many villages and towns remain unimpacted by the gospel. Pray for continued commitment of believers to preach Christ whatever the cost and without compromise.
d) Harvest among the Eritrean diaspora, both in the wider region in Africa and globally. Many suffer by proxy with their brethren back in Eritrea, but significant numbers of Eritreans outside the country are encountering the Lord Jesus in profound ways. Pray for this to continue and to multiply.
Missionaries, as such, are no longer welcome in Eritrea. Since 2002, almost all foreign aid workers, Christian or otherwise, have been expelled or forced to leave. Much work has largely been suspended or terminated as a result. The few that remain, along with the national workers, keep well under the radar and are confined in their activities. Pray for open doors for workers to return to Eritrea; pray that those who do have access will move quickly, taking advantage of every opportunity to demonstrate Gods love.
For an additional 5 Challenges for Prayer see Operation World book, CD-ROM, or DVD-ROM.
The Operation World book, CD-ROM, and DVD-ROM provide far more information and fuel for prayer for the people of Eritrea.