Wednesday, March 6, 2013

RLPB 200. Sudan: Islamic belligerence and soaring persecution

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 200 | Wed 06 Mar 2013

By Elizabeth Kendal

Islamists -- a powerful force in Sudan -- hold President Gen. Omar el-Bashir responsible for the loss of southern Sudan. Of course he is responsible, for he systematically marginalised, cheated, persecuted and fought the predominantly Christian non-Arabs of southern Sudan while trying to impose Islam on them until all they wanted was separation. Eventually on 9 July 2011 South Sudan became an independent nation. Khartoum's hardline Islamists believe secession should never have been an option, not merely because southern Sudan is resource-rich, but because Islamists do not believe Allah's land should ever be forfeit -- especially not at the behest of the US! In the latter part of 2012, Arab Spring-inspired protests erupted in Khartoum only to be hijacked by Islamists who attacked Western embassies. Rumours abounded that a coup was imminent. Whilst some of the discontent in Khartoum is due to economic hardship and repression, the Islamist discontent pertains to the growing belief that el-Bashir has failed the State by not being Islamic enough! A key opposition figure, Hassan al-Turabi, has asserted that el-Bashir's regime should not even be regarded as Islamic! Factions inside the regime are leveraging this discontent to increase their power, leaving el-Bashir under pressure to prove his Islamist credentials. This is the context for the campaign of systematic persecution that began in late 2012 (see RLPBs 198 and 199, and for more details RLM 6 March 2013).

On 14 February doctors in Khartoum cross-amputated a man's right hand and left foot under orders from the government as a punishment for robbery. Canada responded by condemning the deteriorating human rights situation in Sudan, noting also the targeting of civil society organisations, particularly those which are owned and run by Christians. Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird called on Khartoum 'to respect the rights of Sudan's people, to cease its intimidation of civil society and political opponents, and to end indiscriminate bombardments of civilians'.

Ulf Laessing reports (Reuters 27 Feb) Sudanese Christians are growing anxious that the day is coming when they will not be able to practise their faith at all. Laessing visited one of several demolished churches: the Africa Inland church which stood in a slum suburb of Khartoum. He reports on the mid-February raid by security agents on the library of the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church, founded by missionaries in central Khartoum more than a hundred years ago. 'They took hundreds of books,' a church source told him, 'and the entire archive, not just religious literature.' Laessing notes that numerous church-affiliated institutions have been closed and foreign Christians deported. (In addition, on Monday 4 March, the regime closed the Aslan English Teaching Centre, accusing it of engaging in 'suspicious activities'.) According to Laessing, 'Despair and anxiety is palpable in many of Khartoum's churches, most of which date back to the British colonial era which ended in 1955.' He attended Sunday worship in a small room beside the demolished church. He listened as Pastor Said tried to encourage what remains of his flock -- 11 adults and four children. 'The government destroyed our church,' he said, 'but we don't have to be afraid. God will always protect us. Hallelujah!'

On 28 January 2013 the 54 member states of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (UNECOSOC) showed how little they care about Sudanese citizens. First they elected Sudan as one of four Vice-Presidents, then they nominated the racist, genocidal, rogue state to chair UNECOSOC's proceedings on humanitarian affairs. The US and Canada lobbied strongly against the nomination on the grounds that Khartoum is currently blockading humanitarian aid from its own people, creating famine and a humanitarian crisis in Blue Nile and South Kordofan where conflict has left some 700,000 people displaced and from where more than 200,000 have fled. France and Australia did not oppose Sudan's nomination! Thankfully, however, they did not object to further consultations and eventually Sudan agreed to cede the humanitarian segment to Pakistan. It is good and right that Pastor Said is exhorting his flock to 'rest'/trust in Almighty God -- he is faithful while 'all other ground is sinking sand'.


* the Lord of Hosts will protect his people as a shepherd guides and protects his flock, while providing all their needs. 'The Lord is my shepherd . . .' and he provides, restores, leads, guides, comforts, accompanies, sustains, vindicates and blesses. (Psalm 23)

* the Holy Spirit will encourage believers, fanning their faith into flame, drawing them near into prayer and dispelling their fears and enabling 'rest'. 'A bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice.' (Isaiah 42:3 ESV)

* our Sovereign, Almighty and glorious God -- who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think . . . (Ephesians 3:20 ESV) -- will intervene in Sudan to establish righteousness and 'bring forth justice' for the sake of the Church and all the peoples of Sudan who are in need of the gospel.


Islamist discontent is rising, forcing Sudan's President Omar el-Bashir to prove his Islamist credentials. As churches are demolished, property is seized, Coptic priests are detained and foreign Christians are deported, despair is setting in and Sudanese Christians are wondering if the day is coming when they will no longer be able to practise their faith at all. Meanwhile the 54 member states of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (UNECOSOC) showed how little they care about Sudanese citizens when they elected Sudan as a Vice-President and nominated it to chair proceedings on humanitarian affairs. The US and Canada protested, forcing Sudan to cede the humanitarian post reluctantly to Pakistan. Only God can be trusted! Please pray for the Church in Sudan.

Elizabeth Kendal is the author of
Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah speaks to Christians today
(Deror Books, Dec 2012)