The Problem

100,000 million Christians face persecution simply for following Jesus 
The Problem

Eritrea

Leader: President Isayas Afewerki
How many Christians?: 5.2 million (2.5 million Christians)
World Watch List Rank: 6

“In prison, one of my main purposes as a Christian was to evangelise. We saw many conversions. The gospel can’t be chained!”
Musse, Eritrean Christian

The basics

The government only recognises three Christians denominations, including the Eritrean Orthodox Church (EOC). 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. Government security forces monitor phone calls, scrutinise activity and conduct countless raids which target Christians, seize Christian materials and damage house churches. Christians can be arrested and imprisoned without trial. Many Christians are held in inhumane prisons because of their faith, and their loved ones often do not know where they are or even if they are still alive.

Half of the population are Muslims and leaving Islam is seen as a betrayal of their community, so converts from Islam face intimidation, threats and worse from their family. Many Christians would rather risk the deadly emigration routes via Sudan or Libya than stay in Eritrea.

Main threats to Christians

  • Government opposition
  • Government surveillance
  • Anti-Christian violence

The facts

  • Christians in non approved denominations are considered enemies of the state.
  • Followers of Jesus have faced beatings, imprisonment, harassment and torture.
  • Christians have been locked in metal shipping containers battling with horrific heat in the day and freezing temperatures at night.
  • Islamic extremism is on the rise, and radical groups seem well connected with country leaders.
  • Christians from unapproved denominations are looked at suspiciously, and the government encourages people to spy on followers of Jesus.
  • Up to 20,000 people, including Christians, are being held without trial or contact with the outside world for opposing the government.

Where is it?

Pray this

Father God, please protect Your children in Eritrea. Convict the hearts of those who persecute them, particularly those who profess to follow Jesus and yet still persecute His children. We ask that You would free Eritrean Christians from prison, as you did with the apostle Paul and Silas. Amen.

Meet Eyal…


In this inspiring video Eyal shares how the courage of Eritrean believers is helping them to stand firm in the face of persecution, imprisonment and even death.

Be challenged by Helen’s thankfulness…


If you were to wake up tomorrow, with only the things you thanked God for today, what would you have?

What’s it like for Christians in Eritrea?

Musse (not his real name) was arrested and sent to prison for working as a pastor at an ‘unregistered church’. He spent six terrible years there – and, even before that, had been a victim of the Eritrean government’s surveillance for years. Amazingly, Musse managed to live for Jesus even in prison.

“In prison, one of my main purposes as a Christian was to evangelise,” he says. “Of course, it is forbidden to do it openly, but we did it at night when everybody was asleep. We even had Bible verses we could study in secret. Sometimes, there were very problematic people who used to inform on us. They would tell the guards, ‘Musse is preaching, teaching and doing other Christian things’. There were people like that, yes. But many are passing through different frustrations and depression. Those people loved what we taught and shared. Some of them even tried to cover for us. We saw many conversions. The gospel can’t be chained!”

Musse remains under close and constant surveillance, forced to report to his local police station regularly to show that he has not fled the country. Every time he goes there, he risks re-arrest. “Please continue praying for us,” asks his wife, Ruth (name changed). “We need prayers so that we live without worry and keep calm.”

How can I help Christians in Eritrea?

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

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

Latest news and articles on Eritrea…

Click the Eritrea tag below for a list of the latest articles and news on the country…

We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.