Since the secession of the mainly-Christian South Sudan in 2011, Sudan’s autocratic president, Omar al-Bashir, has intensified efforts to Islamise the Muslim-majority country. Sharia law is brutally enforced and Christians are detained without charge. Church buildings have been deliberately demolished by state authorities, sometimes with the excuse that the land they are built on has been earmarked for development, and congregations are unable to rebuild as the construction of new churches is prohibited by law. In October 2015, police bulldozed a church building in Khartoum State, despite the State Governor having assured church leaders the day before that the building would not be destroyed.
The government has also waged a violent counter-insurgency campaign in historically Christian regions in the southern parts of Sudan. Arrested church leaders are frequently accused of supporting anti-government rebels fighting in the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan. At the time of writing, four Christians are on trial accused by the authorities of trumped up charges such as “espionage” and “crimes against the state”, charges which carry the death penalty.
Security agencies have moved to shut down Christian schools. When officials raided a church and school in Omdurman, Sudan’s largest city, the pastor and his family were taken to the airport and forcibly deported to South Sudan. They had to leave behind all their belongings. When South Sudan became independent in 2011, hundreds of thousands of Christians from the north were stripped of their citizenship and ordered to leave the country. A key Christian leader in Sudan, writing to Barnabas Fund in October 2016, explained, “There is no more recognition of other religions in the country except Islam; [Islam] is the only religion for the nation … but they didn’t put it in the constitution, only in government officials’ practices.”
Lift up in prayer believers in Sudan, who face imprisonment and intimidation and who are forced to live under sharia law. Pray that, in the midst of an uncertain future, they will be able to trust in Him who is unchanging, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Pray that the government’s efforts to eradicate Christian influence in Sudan, including destroying churches and Christian centres such as Bible colleges, will be thwarted and that regulations against the building of new churches will be overturned.