Eritrea is a relatively new African nation on the coast of the Red Sea. It used to be a part of Ethiopia. Todd Nettleton of The Voice of the Martyrs visited there shortly after the government started cracking down on Christian churches in 2002.
"The government called in leaders of those churches and, essentially, overnight, closed them down — said public services are no longer legal; you can no longer have public gatherings," Nettleton relays.
A few denominations are sanctioned, but the government controls those pulpits, and the gospel is not allowed to be preached.
"I had the chance to interview several pastors and Christian leaders and other Christians who had suffered persecution," Nettleton shares about his visit to Eritrea. "Some had been in prison; some had been tortured."
So in addition to their continued prayers, The Voice of the Martyrs started an email petition campaign to the Eritrean government, asking specifically for the release of two pastors.
"That went out on a Saturday," the ministry spokesman details. "The following Friday, we received word that 13 Eritrean Christians had been released from prison."
Though he knows the government would never admit it, Nettleton thinks the letter writing campaign was a main reason for that release.
The two pastors who were specifically mentioned in the letters, however, remain in prison.
"Two of them just spent their 7,000th day in prison," he laments. "They are among the somewhere between 350 and 400 Christians currently imprisoned in Eritrea."
Anyone who wants to add their name to the voices that are demanding the Eritrean government release Haile Nayzgi, Dr. Kiflu Gebremeskel, and hundreds of other Christians who have been wrongfully imprisoned for sharing the good news of Jesus Christ in Eritrea is encouraged to do so.