I am suffering… Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day. 2 Timothy 1:12

Many Eritrean Christians endure unimaginable suffering because they refuse to renounce their faith in Christ. Thousands are imprisoned without trial in horrendous conditions; many are held in metal shipping containers or underground prisons, enduring darkness and overcrowding, extreme temperatures and malnutrition, and sometimes torture and beatings.

Those who fall ill may have medical treatment withheld unless they agree to renounce their faith. Some die in custody. The full extent of their suffering – and indeed the strength of their faith in the face of it – is known only to the Lord. But limited reports about some of these martyrs do occasionally escape from Eritrea.

Three such individuals were Teklesenbet Gebreab Kiflom (36), Mogos Hagos Kiflom (37) and Mehari Gebreneguse Asgedom (42). Teklesenbet’s death was reported in October 2010; he died after being refused medical attention for malaria. Mogos, a husband and father, died as a result of torture after he refused to deny his faith. Then in August 2011, Mehari, who had been held in solitary confinement, died from both torture and complications related to diabetes.

Eternal God, help us always to remember the great unseen cloud of witnesses round about us. When in danger, give us their courage and when in difficulty, their perseverance; so that we too may be faithful until we rejoice with all the saints in your eternal kingdom, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
Dr Patrick Sookhdeo is the International Director of Barnabas Fund and the Executive Director of the Oxford Centre for Religion and Public Life.