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Tigrinya: Jesus Loves Me

A verse in Tigrinya

Tigrinya and Arabic are two of the languages spoken in Eritrea. “Jesus loves me” in Tigrinya is pronounced like this:

Yehf kee rehn nee yoo.

The words actually say, “He loves me,” but they are the words Eritrean children use when they sing the song.

Try singing the song “Jesus Loves Me” using the Tigrinya words in place of “Jesus loves me” in the song.

Note: Some sounds used in Tigrinya are not used in speaking English. For example, one sound in Tigrinya is somewhat like a cross between and English “k” and an English “h.” Can you make a sound that sounds like both a “k” and an “h?”


Eritrea: Preparing to Serve

Eritrean girls

The previous post told about Helen Berhane, a Christian singer who was imprisoned in Eritrea. God helped Helen survive her time in prison. But He also prepared her to serve Him while she was growing up.

Helen dedicated her life to the work of the Lord when she was 14. She and a friend, also named Helen, began to pray together almost every day. The girls also fasted on some days.

They had many situations to pray about. Some people in Eritrea followed the teachings and customs of witch doctors. The two Helens prayed that the people would follow Jesus instead. They prayed for guidance and changes for their country, which was fighting a war with Ethiopia at the time.

Helen and Helen believed Jesus’ promise that says, “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20). They knew that things can change if people pray.

During that time, Helen also visited sick people, told others about the gospel, shared Christian songs with others, and read books about Christians who had been persecuted. God was helping her mature in her faith and service.

To Think About
*What activities did Helen do that helped her prepare to serve God as an adult?
*What else can Christian students do that will help them mature in their faith and their service to God?
*What is one thing you can do to grow as a Christian?


Eritrea: In Trouble for Singing

Helen (right) and a Christian friend

One Saturday morning, police officers in Eritrea raided a children’s Bible study. The kids, ages 2 to 18, were taken to the police station with their teachers.

At the station the children began to sing a song. The song said, “I am not afraid of persecution, hardships, and even death. Nobody can separate me from the love of Jesus Christ.”

According to some reports, the police told the children to “shut up.” The youngest children were released that day, but the oldest had to stay longer.

Helen Berhane
The Bible study children were not the only singers the government wanted to “shut up.” Helen Berhane is an Eritrean gospel singer. Her music was popular with young people in Eritrea.
The police wanted Helen to sign a paper denying her faith in Christ. They wanted her to promise not to sing Christian music anymore. She refused.

The police took Helen to an army camp and kept her there for more than two years. She was treated harshly and was even forced to stay inside a hot metal shipping container much of the time. After Helen was released, she had to use a wheelchair because her legs and feet were injured in prison.

Christians are still arrested and put in prison in Eritrea.

(Source: Kids of Courage archives)

Prayer Requests from the August 2018 VOM newsletter
*Pray that Eritrean Christians will have the strength and grace to endure persecution and faithfully witness for Christ.

*Pray for the president of Eritrea’s salvation.

*Lift up the many parents who must raise their children alone while their spouse is in prison.

*Praise God for churches outside the country that are caring for children whose parents or other family members are still in Eritrea.

*Pray that Christian prisoners will be released and that Eritrea will restore freedom of worship.

*Pray that new doors will be opened to the gospel in Eritrea.


Eritrea: Afewerki and His Children

Afewerki and his children

The previous post told about Afewerki and Fkadu, Christians in Eritrea who were imprisoned for their Christian activities. Their family grieved when they learned that Fkadu had died due to harsh prison conditions, but they were comforted by knowing that she was with Jesus in heaven.

When Afewerki left prison, he knew he could never obey the government’s rules against attending prayer meetings. “I will not stop praying,” he said.

So Afewerki decided to take his children and escape to Ethiopia, a country next to Eritrea. First they had to sneak past two groups of Eritrean guards. If they were caught, Afewerki’s older children would be taken away from him and forced into the military. They younger ones would be taken to a prison camp.

Besides the guards, the family had to avoid stepping on land mines and being attacked by hyenas. But they made it to Ethiopia!

Now they live in a refugee camp. Afewerki doesn’t know what will happen to his family next, but he trusts that God will care for them. In the meantime, the children are able to sing in a church choir without fear of being arrested.

Afewerki asks Christians to pray for Eritrea and Eritrean Christians. “I don’t hate them,” he says of the Eritrean government. I would like all Christians in the world to pray that our government would accept the gospel.

(Source: The August 2018 VOM newsletter)


Eritrea: Afewerki

Afewerki and his children

Afewerki and his wife, Fkadu were raising their four children to love and follow Jesus. But the government of their country, Eritrea, approves only four religious groups: Islam (the religion of Muslims), Catholic, Lutheran, and Orthodox Christian. Christians in other groups are persecuted.

Because of their Christian activities, Fkadu was arrested last year in May. Two months later, Afewerki also went to prison.

The prisoners had only muddy river water to drink, and little food. And it was very hot.

[One Eritrean prisoner said temperatures at the prison were “above 48 degrees Centigrade.” To change Centigrade temperature to the Fahrenheit scale used in the United States, first multiply the Centigrade temperature by 9/5. 48 times 9/5 equals 86 2/5 or 86.4. Now add 32 to the answer to get the Fahrenheit temperature. How hot was the temperature in the prison?]

Sadly, Fkadu grew ill and was taken from the prison in an ambulance. Three months later, when Afewerki was released from the prison, he learned that his wife had died.

“I cried and cried,” he said. “But I am happy that my wife was a hero Christian, that she died for Christ.

Read the next post to find out what happened to Afewerki and his children.

(Source: The August 2018 VOM newsletter)