FAITH STORY OF 14-YR-OLD WHO FLED FROM ERITREA
Hidden event brings home reality of persecution for young people and asks how we would cope if persecution came to the UK
A Christian who fled Eritrea at the age of 14, making a perilous journey across desert and sea, will be telling his story at the Hidden event on Friday, April 23.
Hidden, which is for 18 to 30-year-olds, poses the question: How would you cope if persecution came to the UK? Find out how to get your tickets below.
Many of us are emerging from lockdown a little battered and bruised. But lockdown living is the everyday reality for many Christians around the world who are persecuted for their faith.
Eritrea has been likened to the North Korea of Africa. Many churches have been closed, and Christians are rounded up and put behind bars indefinitely. To make matters worse for 14-year-old Bereket, he was facing conscription into the army – again, for an indefinite period. That was when he knew he had to leave Eritrea.
For the 14 year old, that meant undertaking the hazardous journey through Libya, across the Sahara desert, then crossing the Mediterranean by boat to Italy.
Many who have tried to make that trip have died on the way. And Bereket was younger than most. The journey was to take him a year and a half.
Bereket made it to Calais and smuggled himself aboard a lorry bound for the UK.
At Hidden, he’ll be talking about how his faith sustained him in the Sahara desert, where he had to bury himself in the ground to avoid the searing heat of the sun. And how his faith has kept him in the UK, where he hasn’t seen his family for 17 years.
‘When we think of refugees and asylum seekers, we need to realise what a difficult journey it can be,’ says Chioma Fanawopa, of Release Potential, who is organising the event. ‘As a mother, there is no way I would have wanted my 14-year-old son to make that journey!
‘Bereket says God helped him on the way, and his faith is still strong, despite all he’s had to face.’
Today Bereket has a new life working in England in cyber security.
Chioma says: ‘My hope is that his story will inspire and equip young adults to stay strong in their faith, despite the difficulties we may be facing today.
‘Stories like Bereket’s give us a bigger perspective on what it is like for persecuted Christians around the world who are having to live permanently in lockdown.’
As well as featuring Bereket’s story, the Hidden event will include a short film challenging us on how we would keep our own faith under persecution.
Tickets are available via Eventbrite here. Please tell your friends and invite youth leaders and young people from your church.