At least 20 church leaders were arrested at their homes in Eritrea’s capital on Thursday, Jan. 17, in an apparently coordinated move by authorities, and some have reportedly been imprisoned. The church leaders were from a variety of denominations, including the Full Gospel Church and the Mesret Kristos (Mennonite) Church. The situation in Eritrea has deteriorated dramatically in the last few months, according to VOM workers. Major commodities like electricity, water and grain are in short supply, and the government is rumored to be unstable. “To understand the extent is very difficult since Eritrea is a leading country on suppression of information,” wrote a VOM worker. In January, a group of dissident soldiers demanding political change tried to seize control of the Ministry of Information, and three army officers were arrested. Eritrea’s relations with Ethiopia have also worsened since the death of Ethiopian leader Meles Zenawi last August. Pray for God’s peace in Eritrea.
Israel—Jewish Extremist Convicted in Bomb Attack on Pastor’s Home Source: VOM Sources
Jewish extremist Jack Teitel was convicted in January by the Jerusalem District Court on two counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder. The conviction comes nearly five years after Teitel’s 2008 bomb attack on the home of Christian pastor David Ortiz. Teitel left a pipe bomb disguised as a package on the Ortiz’s doorstep, and when 15-year-old Ami Ortiz opened the package, the bomb exploded, seriously injuring Ami. During the trial, Teitel said, “God is proud of what I did. I have no regrets.” His criminal convictions include other crimes in addition to the Ortiz bombing. In a note to VOM, Pastor Ortiz’s wife, Leah, wrote, “We want to thank everyone for standing with us because without your prayers and love we wouldn’t have been able to go through this whole process.”
Authorities in a closed country in Eastern Africa raided A VOM-supported safe house and church at the end of January. “They came in a group with the police on Jan. 26,” wrote the pastor who runs the safe house. “They accused us that we are burning and putting down the book of Quran, and they slapped my face. When they try to find their book they found only the Bible.” The interrogators also asked the pastor’s wife and another Christian woman present what they believed. The women told them they were Christians. The authorities finally left after several people from the community came to tell them that the Christians were good people, but the authorities closed down the meeting place. Please pray for the pastor and his family, who will likely have to find a new home and safe house. The pastor requests prayer for protection and boldness.
Pray for a radio ministry that encourages secret and persecuted believers by providing encouraging stories of persecution. The radio episodes are relevant not only to believers but also to Muslims who listen to the broadcasts. Since the Malatya murders several years ago, many believers have begun to consider the cost of following Christ. This program provides them with examples of courageous faith.