Wednesday, July 16, 2014

RLPB 269. In Sudan, persecution; In South Sudan, misery

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 269 | Wed 16 Jul 2014

By Elizabeth Kendal


On 17 February 2014 Sudanese authorities demolished a Sudanese Church of Christ building in the Ombada area of Omdurman (near Khartoum) and confiscated the land, all without prior notice. According to Morning Star News (20 February) the only reason the government gave for the demolition was that the church was in a Muslim area and was not wanted there. The church's 300 or so members were mostly from the Nuba Mountains in Sudan's volatile 'new south'. The secretary-general of the Sudan Council of Churches, Rev Kori El Ramli, recently told the BBC that town planners are now forcibly relocating Christians out of the area, moving them to a district north of the city where there is no church. Back in April 2013, the Government of Sudan (GoS) decreed that no more building permits would be issued for Christian churches, meaning these believers will not be able to rebuild.

On Sunday 29 June authorities delivered a letter to the Sudanese Church of Christ at El Izba residential area in Khartoum North, warning them that their church building had been listed for demolition. About 10 am the next day, a force of about 70 uniformed and plain-clothed officers reduced the church (built in 1983) to rubble. The Sudan Council of Churches protested and on 12 July, a minister of Guidance and Endowments, Shalil Abdullah, responded saying that the remaining churches were enough for those Christians who had stayed in Sudan. Ramli disagrees: 'We are growing,' he said, 'we need more churches.' Many believe the persecution is part of a systematic campaign to drive Christians out of Sudan.

Meanwhile, Meriam Ibrahim [RLPB 261 (21 May 2014)], her husband Daniel and their two children, Martin and Maya are still in the US Embassy in Khartoum.  Meriam's Muslim relatives want to appeal the ruling which saw Meriam's sentence of death for apostasy overturned. Furthermore, Sudanese authorities have charged Meriam with falsifying documents, after she attempted to leave the country on South Sudanese papers. The US State Department says it is working to get the family out of the country, three years after Daniel (a US citizen) first started petitioning the US for a spousal visa for his Christian wife.


On 9 July 2014 South Sudan marked its third anniversary as an independent nation but there is little to celebrate. Progress stalled as corrupt political elites siphoned some four billion dollars from the public purse. Then after conflict erupted in December 2013 between soldiers from Vice-President Riek Machar's Nuer tribe against soldiers of President Salva Kiir's Dinka tribe, the new state quickly descended into chaos. [For background, see RLPB 242 (7 Jan 2014).]

Yida camp (2013) Samaritan's Purse
In seven months of civil war over 10,000 have been killed and some 1.5 million displaced. At least 4 million South Sudanese citizens are now facing the prospect of famine.

Doctors without Borders (MSF) warns that with severe malnutrition already widespread, the coming months will be dire. The rainy season has started, the roads are closed and because there was no planting (due to conflict) there will be no harvest. Displaced South Sudanese and Nuba refugees from Sudan living in massively overcrowded, unsanitary camps are dying of malaria, respiratory tract infections and other preventable diseases. 'The South Sudanese population is living on a knife-edge,' says MSF (14 July).
click here for full size map

According to Sudan's President Bashir, several Western countries are now secretly calling for Sudan's reunification. Whilst this is doubtless nothing more than propaganda, it does provide an ominous insight into the thinking in Khartoum.

My personal position (Elizabeth Kendal) has always been that secession was the wrong choice. I have always supported the 'New Sudan' vision of the late Dr John Garang which envisaged a united opposition securing liberty for all Sudanese. Everything that is happening now -- the Islamisation of the north, the ethnic cleansing of the 'new south', and the destabilisation of South Sudan -- was totally predictable (see: Turn Back the Battle - chapter 9, "Christian Security: not in a 'covenant with death'.")

The question is now: Where do we go from here?

'. . . let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith . . .' (from Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV)


* have mercy on Sudan and South Sudan. 'The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.' (Psalm 145:8-9 ESV)

* intervene in Sudan to bring the rule of the racist, Islamist President Omar el Bashir, to an end. 'Arise, O Lord; O God, lift up your hand ... call his wickedness to account . . .' (Pray Psalm 10)

* intervene in South Sudan to bring an end to the corruption and tribalism that has merely taken the place of Islamic jihad. May hope be restored; may the Church's suffering come to an end; may God be glorified.

* pour out his Spirit of wisdom on Christian leaders -- north and south of the border -- so they will be able to lead your long-suffering Church through these dark days; may their experience be: 'The Lord is my shepherd . . .' (Psalm 23)


South Sudan declared independence from Sudan on 9 July 2011. Three years on, Sudan is pursuing Islamisation and ethnic-religious cleansing, while South Sudan has descended into chaos and civil war. In Sudan, churches are being demolished as part of a systematic campaign of persecution aimed at driving Christians out of Sudan.  In South Sudan, progress has been crippled by corruption and conflict. Some 1.5 million South Sudanese are displaced, living along with Nuba refugees from Sudan in seriously over-crowded, disease-ridden camps. Some four million are facing famine. The rainy season has started, the roads are closed and because there was no planting there will be no harvest. Please remember the Church in Sudan and South Sudan, praying for wisdom for her leaders and that God the Redeemer will intervene.


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