The Evangelical and Reformed communities in Eritrea are under much oppression and persecution, but continue to seek to be faithful to the Lord in their walk, witness and worship.
Most are Tigrinya-speaking, originating from nominal Christian backgrounds. These live in the highlands. A smaller group are Arabic-speaking and based in the predominantly Muslim areas along the coast.
The past five years have been difficult for the church in the capital, Asmara. Many members have been in prison, and those not in prison are doing some sort of forced labour. None get enough to eat. Eight members of the congregation have fled the country and are now in Sudan or Ethiopia.
Throughout the Horn of Africa, thousands of Eritreans wander looking for food, shelter, and a place to call home, away from the evils of the Eritrean government.
Believers in Asmara have been able to maintain contact with each other (except for the Somali believers) and meet regularly in small groups for worship. Two elders and two deacons are still in Eritrea, doing the worthwhile but risky work of keeping the believers together.
It has been almost impossible to keep in touch with believers outside Asmara, because of government restrictions on travel. There are, however, many other places in Eritrea where believers have been sent to do forced labour, and in those places they seek to find other believers for fellowship and continue to witness to their faith.
Regular contact is kept with several members of the congregation in Asmara and occasionally funds can be sent for food, clothing and shelter. Some can still receive packages by post, with medications, food, books and other small necessities.
Although the Asmara church cannot meet publicly, they continue to have an effective outreach. From the beginning the church has maintained a large library. Some also are involved in translating and quietly distributing solid biblical theology.
Every month we hear of new contacts whose lives have been changed by being introduced to the gospel and biblical theology. The church longs for the day when she can meet publicly and openly celebrate the sacraments as a public witness to the world.
She longs too for the day when she can sing hymns again without fear of being heard by the authorities. And she longs for the day when once more her members can seek to fulfil the cultural mandate.
Pray for the Reformed Church of Eritrea. It is an entirely self-supporting, indigenous church. Although poverty and persecution are constants in their lives, they have remained faithful to their Lord.
There are three Arabic-speaking groups meeting regularly for Bible studies and worship in the coastal areas of Eritrea. The Lord continues to add to their numbers. Most are of Muslim background. They are led by two well-trained spiritual leaders from strong churches in an Arab country.
The three groups quietly get together every few months. They have to be even more discrete about their gatherings than in Asmara, as they have an additional risk of harm from fanatical Muslims in their families and communities.
Eritrean believers who have made their way to Ethiopia receive good care from local churches. The members who fled to Ethiopia are now a core group in a reformed congregation in Addis Ababa. One member who reached Khartoum has started a work in that city.
The Lord has his people in the Horn of Africa. They are a lively people and wait patiently and with a sure hope for the return of their Saviour.