In 1952, Eritrea joined Ethiopia as part of a federation. When Ethiopia annexed Eritrea as a province 10 years later, a struggle for independence began that ended with victory by the Eritrean rebels in 1991. In 1998, a border war with Ethiopia began, ending with intervention from the U.N. in December 2000 and a peace agreement.
There was a general freedom to practice religion in Eritrea until 2002, when the government announced it would recognize only four religious communities: the Orthodox Church of Eritrea, Sunni Islam, the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran-affiliated Evangelical Church of Eritrea.
From 2002 to 2010, the government has jailed, tortured and killed numerous Eritreans for political and religious reasons, and tortured and killed many of them extra-judicially. Today, it is estimated that between 2,000 and 3,000 Christians are in Eritrean prisons. Believers face deplorable conditions, including torture. Many are held in metal shipping containers with no ventilation or toilet facilities.
Voice of the Martyrs Korea supports the Eritrean Underground Church through the discipleship training of the Eritrean refugee community that lives along the border of Ethiopia in four different camps close to the Ethiopian city of Shire.
Eritrean Refugee camp at dusk
Leaving the camp to study or work is an unlikely possibility for most refugees, and resettlement is rare; many of the young refugees feel trapped. The bottom-line is that many refugees have no hope of ever leaving the camp.
Through discipleship training, VOM Korea seeks to equip these Eritreans to see the camps as their place of ministry. They are given a Scriptural perspective on how to minister wherever God has placed them, and they are helped to understand how God has placed them in a strategic position related to the nation Eritrea.
Eritrean Refugee Camp close to Shire
Pastor & Dr. Foley teach 30 Eritrean refugees about discipleship.
Many of the Christians in these camps were imprisoned and persecuted while in Eritrea and now they have the opportunity to continue the important work of the Eritrean underground church in the refugee camps.
Eritreans worshiping God in their native tongue.