Eritreans in prison for decades. Tamilnadu experience increased persecution. Expelled from village.
Eritrea is governed by a totalitarian regime that seeks to control every aspect of life. In 2002, the government outlawed every form of religion except Islam, Orthodox Christianity, Roman Catholicism and the Lutheran Church. All other religious groups are illegal, and the government maintains control of approved churches. Many Christians have been arrested without warning, and imprisoned Christians are not given a trial or allowed to see their families. Conditions inside these prisons are some of the harshest in the world. Some 200 to 250 believers are believed to remain in prison, though it is unclear if all are still alive. Christian prisoners are provided meager rations and often held in shipping containers in extreme desert conditions for years. Several Eritrean Christian leaders, like Haile Nayzgi, have been imprisoned since 2004.
In Tamilnadu, the number of persecution events rose dramatically in 2022. Pastors and evangelists have been chased away from villages, beaten, and robbed. Many churches conducted in rented buildings are being forced to close by Hindu radicals pressuring property owners. Because of this, Christian congregations have been scattered, and pastors who have dedicated themselves to full-time ministry are struggling to support their families. They are praying for the ability to purchase land where church buildings can be constructed so that they are not dependent on renting space for worship services. They are also seeking prayer for their families through difficult financial challenges.
On April 4, 2022, Lerm and his wife, Dow, accepted Christ and started to attend church. A few months later, Dow’s father, who was the head of a nearby village in their province in northern Laos, found out and demanded that they renounce Christ. When they refused, he used his influence to have them evicted from their village and took away the income and food supplies they usually earned from farm work. Lerm asked his own father to take them in but was rejected because his father feared losing his government job. Lerm, Dow, and their children lost everything when they were evicted. They now live in a temporary hut on the land of another Christian brother, but their faith has remained strong.