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Eritrea: Sesuna’s Time in Prison

[Photo: Sesuna]

High school seniors in Eritrea are required to live in harsh conditions at a military training camp. The time of training is especially hard for some Christian students.

The government approves only four religious groups: Islam (the religion of Muslims), Catholic, Lutheran, and Orthodox Christian. Members of other groups are persecuted.

Sesuna is an evangelical Christian who decided to trust and follow Jesus after reading the Bible when she was 14 years old. When the time came for her to serve at the training camp, she noticed other students there who also attended evangelical churches.

Then the camp instructor asked, “Are any of you evangelical Christians?” Sesuna started to stand up, but the girls around her tried to pull her back down. They knew what would happen if Sesuna proclaimed her faith.

Sesuna’s Confession
But Sesuna got the instructor’s attention and declared, “I have a Bible, and I am a born-again Christian.” As a result of her confession, officials locked her in a women’s prison. The prison was made of tin buildings that were freezing at night and blazing hot during the day. The food was terrible, and the women and girls were allowed to go to the bathroom only once a day.

“I knew all I had to do was deny Jesus, and I would have been set free,” said Sesuna.

Escape and a New Life
Soon Sesuna became very ill due to the horrid conditions. Prison officials took her to a hospital, making it clear that she would return to the prison when she recovered.

Like many Eritrean youth, Sesuna was able to escape Eritrea and go to a refugee camp in Ethiopia. She began to attend church and to teach Sunday school at the refugee camp. A church leader helped Sesuna enroll in a VOM-supported Bible school nearby. She is growing in her relationship with God and preparing for future work for Him.

“I know the world will pass away one day,” she said. “But if we have the Lord, we have everything.”

(Source: The September 2020 The Voice of the Martyrs magazine. Edited for length, clarity, and age-appropriateness.)

To Talk and Think About
*Read Matthew 10:32. How did Sesuna follow that verse? What does the verse say will happen as a result of her obedience?

*Sesuna said, “I know the world will pass away one day, but if we have the Lord, we have everything.” What did she mean by that? How would you say it in your own words?

*Why do you think Sesuna refused to deny Jesus so she could be free from prison?