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This map shows the location of the East African nation of Eritrea. (Image credit: CBN News)

13 Christians Released from East African Prison Thanks to Emails and Prayers - 400 Still Captive

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Thirteen Christians in the East African country of Eritrea have finally been released from prison after being falsely imprisoned for 10 years. 

The group's release was confirmed by The Voice of the Martyrs (VOM), a ministry serving persecuted believers in restricted and hostile countries around the world for the last 26 years. 

As CBN News reported, July 22 marked 7,000 days and nights of captivity for two Eritrean pastors imprisoned with another estimated 400 Christians in the East African country. Seven-thousand days – that's more than 19 years – for simply preaching the gospel.

On that same day, VOM sent an email calling on Christians to commit to praying for the release of Pastor Haile Nayzgi and Dr. Kiflu Gebremeskel, two Eritrean church leaders who have been held since 2004. The ministry also provided information for people to email or fax the Eritrean embassy on behalf of the imprisoned Christians.

Pastor Haile Nayzgi and Dr. Kiflu Gebremeskel are two Eritrean church leaders who have been imprisoned for 19 years. (Image credit: The Global Lane/CBN News)

More than 10,000 people responded to the request, according to VOM. Just six days later, the ministry received word from local partners inside the country that 13 Christians had been released. 

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Unfortunately, Nayzgi and Gebremeskel, the pastors who were the focus of the email, were not among those who were released. The two pastors were part of the Full Gospel Church in Eritrea before the government closed most of the evangelical churches in the country in 2002. 

Many churches went underground, but the government hunted down those Christians and arrested them, imprisoning them indefinitely without even charging them with a crime. Hundreds of Christians, who are still being held, never had a trial. 

"They've never had a lawyer. They don't know how long they'll be in prison. There is no prison sentence. They just disappeared into the Eritrean prison system," VOM radio host Todd Nettleton told CBN's The Global Lane last month. 

With Eritrea's release of the 13, Nettleton reminded believers on Wednesday to keep praying and to share the effort to free the two pastors with friends, family, and churches. 

"There are still more than 300 Christians in Eritrean prisons," he said in a press release. "Don't stop being a voice for them to the Eritrean embassy. Go today and add your name to the list of those who are committed to praying. Share it with a friend. Share it with your whole church. Share it with your whole Bible study group. Share it with somebody who will join you to pray for more prisoners to be released, including Pastor Haile and Dr. Kiflu."

You can add your name at

Eritrea is classified as a "restricted nation" due to the government's ongoing persecution of Christians, according to VOM's 2023 Global Prayer Guide.

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About The Author

Steve Warren is a senior multimedia producer for CBN News. Warren has worked in the news departments of television stations and cable networks across the country. In addition, he also worked as a producer-director in television production and on-air promotion. A Civil War historian, he authored the book The Second Battle of Cabin Creek: Brilliant Victory. It was the companion book to the television documentary titled Last Raid at Cabin Creek currently streaming on Amazon Prime. He holds an M.A. in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and a B.A. in Communication from the University of