[notice]Simulation training exercise brings home harsh reality of abuse of Christians in Eritrea and other persecution hotspots.[/notice]
OM teams recently met at two churches in East London and ministered to the youth, while challenging and mobilising them for missions.
“We taught them about the persecuted church and how to live as a Christian. They asked us questions about relationships, purity, and how they can honour God. We also taught them how to share the gospel,” Emma Icatiou, OM team member, said.
In order to get their message across, the OM team planned a raid. Imagine being crammed into a dark room with 80 other people. There’s no room to sit down or turn around. In this instance, youth from East London spent several hours experiencing the predicament of persecuted Christians around the world, especially those from the country of Eretria. Eretria, is in the Horn of Africa, and bordered by Sudan, Ethiopia, and Djibouti.
In 2002, the Eritrean government declared it would recognize only four religions: the Orthodox Church of Eritrea, Sunni Islam, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Evangelical Church of Eritrea (Lutheran affiliated). Although the government proclaims that it does not persecute anyone for their beliefs or religion, thousands of Christians have been persecuted by the local government since that time. Church pastors, leaders and their families have been kidnapped and placed in metal shipping containers, with no relief from the extreme heat or cold. Some are given a daily piece of bread, but then forced to live in a cage for hours, days, weeks, or even years.
News reports have shared horror stories of Christians who are beaten, sexually abused, and neglected while in captivity. The captives are humiliated, and have no reprieve from the abuse. Others have died without medical treatment.
Candace Moodley, OM Young Hope team member, commented on the experience: “The young people, even the guys, were crying. They were touched. Some of the youth were tied up with ropes. We told the ones that weren’t tied up that they had to pray for those that were. The person couldn’t become untied until three people had prayed for them.”
Candace shared from Hebrews 13:3, “Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.” (NIV)
At the First Baptist Church in East London, the OM team could tell that the youth were nervous to begin their outreach, as many of the youth had never shared their faith with anyone.
The team first stopped at Spar (a local grocery store) to ask for cardboard boxes. The youth were able to make signs to be used as evangelism tools. Some people chose to write out Scriptures, while others promised free hugs or offered to pray.
Emma shared that one woman who had been prayed for during the street ministry came to church the following Sunday and accepted Jesus into her life.
“The youth were challenged. They were encouraged to continue outreaches and to collect money for missionaries,” Emma said.