Wednesday, April 4, 2012

RLPB 153. Sudan: pivotal moment in ethnic cleansing (plus Easter)

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 153 | Wed 04 Apr 2012

EASTER: THE BATTLE HAS BEEN WON

by Elizabeth Kendal

SUDAN: PIVOTAL MOMENT IN ETHNIC-RELIGIOUS CLEANSING

Easter Sunday is the last day for ethnic 'Southerners' (who are predominantly Christian) to register as citizens of the new Sudan which will soon have a Sharia-based constitution. If they fail to register they will be treated as illegal immigrants. The message essentially is this: submit to Sharia or get out. Churches may well be be targeted immediately and aggressively starting 9 April. All across the Sudan, churches have been emptying as ethnic Southerners -- including those born and raised in the north -- flee south. This could eventually become a pretext for closing them. Under-developed, under-resourced and poverty-stricken, South Sudan is struggling to cope with the incoming tide of desperately-needy displaced families. As competition for land and resources intensifies so too does tribal tension and conflict. It may well be Khartoum's intention that its policies might facilitate South Sudan's collapse.

Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) are continuing the aerial bombardment of Nuba civilian populations in the Kauda Valley, South Kordofan. Khartoum has systematically engineered the conditions for famine and is still refusing to allow humanitarian aid into South Kordofan and Blue Nile. The regime's aim is nothing short of the genocide of the non-Arab, non-Muslim, predominantly Christian Nuba, a people who have lived in the region for millennia.

In the year 2000 the All Sudan Council of Churches held an Easter Celebration in Green Square, Khartoum. Presumably the government permitted the three-day rally on the assumption that few Muslims would be interested. However, that Easter Sunday more than 210,000 mostly Arab Muslim Sudanese turned out to hear the gospel. Never again would the regime permit such an event. Only God knows what is behind the facade and how fragile is Islam's grip on the people.

PRAYING FOR THE PERSECUTED THIS EASTER

Only God knows what is behind the facade of any totalitarian society. We see the iron curtain, the bamboo curtain, the curtain of swords: curtains erected by political and religious dictators; curtains erected for the benefit of those dictators, not their captives.

Multitudes of Christians head into this Easter season facing threats of military violence, Islamic jihad, Islamic terrorism, systematic state violence, imprisonment, torture, beatings and deprivation. There are simply too many to list. So pray that the LORD will lay a people upon your heart -- then pray for that people with all your heart as one called by the LORD to intercede for them. In obedience, advocate for them before the throne of grace, a throne we have access to because God has already torn open the greatest curtain of all: the one that separated us from God (Matthew 27:51).

FATHER WE PRAY THAT --

* the power that raised Christ from the dead on the first Easter day will be mightily at work in and through your faithful people today (Ephesians 1:17-21), sustaining faith, empowering witness and providing comfort, courage, peace and hope beyond measure.

* you will supply your faithful ones with all their needs -- material, emotional and spiritual -- according to your riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).

* the same power that raised Christ from the dead on the first Easter day will tear through the curtains erected by the dictators of this world, so that the Church will be free to witness and that men and women will be free to receive the wonderful, life-transforming gospel.

'Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts.' (Zechariah 4:6b ESV)