Pray for the persecuted church in Sudan and South Sudan

August 2, 2017

May we pray that the people of Sudan have the peace & joy that only comes from Christ, no matter the circumstance.“Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.” Ephesians 6:19-20

Praying for the persecuted church in Sudan is a chance to pray for boldness and faithfulness for a fiercely persecuted people. May we pray that the people of Sudan have the peace and joy that only comes from Christ, no matter the circumstance.  

A war-torn government committed to persecution

Islam is the prominent religion in Sudan. Of the 42,166,000 people who live in the African country, 90.1 percent identify with the religion of Islam. The remaining 10 percent is split between other religions, with five percent of the population identifying as Christian.

The country is being torn apart by constant tribal war. Sudan is currently run by President Omar al-Bashir who came to power during 1989 when, as a Brigadier in the Sudanese Army, he led a group of military officers in a military coup that overthrew then democratically elected Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi.

Sudan has had long-running internal conflicts stretching back to the 1960s. The conflicts have mostly arisen in the Western Darfur region between the Arab-Muslim north and the black-Christian south. The struggle between these two parts of the country led to the succession of South Sudan in 2011.

After the succession of South Sudan, the newly formed country was quickly stricken with a massive famine and civil war. The UN ambassador Nikki Haley explains, "The famine in South Sudan is man-made. It is the result of ongoing conflict in that country.” The World Food Programme has reported that 40 percent of the South Sudanese population is in need of food urgently, and according to the UN, 100,000 people are in imminent danger of death because of starvation.

May we pray that the people of Sudan have the peace & joy that only comes from Christ, no matter the circumstance.

South Sudan is predominantly Christian, but Sudan continues to be heavily Islamic. The government of Sudan applies a strict interpretation of Islamic law and uses that to harass the Christian community of the country. Conversion from Islam to any other religion is considered apostasy and is punishable by death. The government of Sudan continues to publicly support the assault of churches and even carries out their own assault. Recently, in a Sudanese Air Force bombing raid, the government targeted a church in the Nuba Mountains, completely destroying the compound and killing 11 people.

Another more prominent example of persecution in Sudan and Miriam Ibrahim. On May 15, 2014, she was sentenced to death after being tried and convicted of apostasy from Islam. During the trial, the Sudanese judge had given her three days to renounce her faith. When she refused, her death sentence was issued. Miriam had been arrested while pregnant with her second child, and two weeks later, on May 27, 2014, Miriam gave birth in prison. Although Miriam was later freed as a result of tremendous international pressure, her case stands as an example to the Christian minority in Sudan and, particularly, to followers of Jesus with a Muslim background.

The Naivasha Agreement, which ended the Second Civil War in Sudan, “accomplished” a few things.  It is supposed to protect Non-muslims in the North, but some interpreters of Muslim law in Sudan refuse to recognize this as actual law. They still consider anyone converting from Islam to any other religion as apostasy and will not follow this part of the agreement. Sudan continues to be one of the hardest places in the world to be a Christian. As of right now, Open Doors ranks Sudan as the fifth most persecuted country in the world.  

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Further Resources

Policy intern Mitchell Dorris contributed to this article.