|Last year’s rank||6|
|Population||3 662 000|
|Christians||1 709 000|
Believers in Eritrea continue to suffer extreme persecution, making it one of the hardest places in the world to follow Jesus.
For 20 years, Eritrea has only recognised three official Christian denominations: Orthodox, Catholic and Lutheran, and closely monitors these churches. Over the years, government security forces have conducted hundreds of house-to-house raids to catch other Christians. There are thought to be 1 000 Christians indefinitely detained in Eritrean prisons, not officially charged with anything. Some leaders of ‘unofficial’ churches have been imprisoned in terrible conditions for more than a decade, including solitary confinement in tiny cells.
Christian men and women as young as 14 are being conscripted into the armed forces to fight in the conflict. There’s no time limit on military service and Eritrea. Christian prisoners are often ‘released’ into military service instead of being allowed home.
Violence against Christians has increased slightly in the past year. This high level of state-sanctioned persecution and violence against Christians forces some to flee the country, but despite all this the Church is growing, as Christians show extreme courage and joy and embrace the risk of arrest for Jesus.
Meet “Pastor Gideon”
“Even when we are in suffering, we rejoice. Our happiness is not based on what we have or do not have. When people see that, they accept Jesus.”
Pastor Gideon, imprisoned for his faith for six and a half years.
What does Open Doors do to help Christians in Eritrea?
Open Doors works through local church partners in Eritrea to provide discipleship training, economic empowerment projects and persecution survival training.