ERITREA: Church Leader Dies in Prison

21 May 2024

Source: Release International

One of the founding fathers of the Full Gospel Church in Eritrea has died in prison. Reverend Ghirmay Araya was arrested in 2021. He was never charged with any crime. He suffered from diabetes and related illnesses. He died at the age of 83.

The Eritrea regime banned the Full Gospel Church along with many others in 2002. Sources report that thousands of Eritreans have been imprisoned for their faith since that time. Some have died from torture and untreated illness. They add, “Rev Ghirmay was among these, and endured his suffering with steadfast faith.”

Rev Ghirmay was held in the maximum-security Wengel Mermera Central Criminal Investigation Centre, along with other church leaders. Some had been detained for 20 years.

One of Rev Ghirmay’s sons has also been imprisoned for his faith for the past seven years. Sources say Samuel Ghirmay, a Lutheran minister, is being kept in a shipping container. Although they were in the same prison, father and son had no opportunity to meet, and Samuel was not even aware of his father’s death.

One mission partner said: “I’m deeply saddened by Rev Ghirmay’s death, and express my heartfelt condolences to his wife, their children and his extended family. Rev Ghirmay served the church diligently for more than 60 years in both Eritrea and Ethiopia. His ministry extended across the Orthodox, Lutheran, and finally Full Gospel churches. He [leaves behind] five children and 13 grandchildren. He went to be with the Lord at the age of 83.”

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    Pray for them

    Pray that God would comfort those grieving the loss of Rev Ghirmay. May they be comforted by the knowledge that he is now at peace with his Saviour.

    Praise God for the life and faith of Rev Ghirmay and the many Eritrean believers who continue to share their faith. Pray that God would continue to strengthen and uphold them in their troubles.

    Pray for Eritrea, that God would be at work in the nation, softening the hearts of its leaders so that they too would come to know God as King of their lives.

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