Sudan (MNN) ― An Islamic leader is telling Sudan’s government to take action against Christians. Ammar Saleh, the chairman of the Islamic Centre for Preaching and Comparative Studies, slammed his government last week for not taking decisive action against Christian missionaries, who he claims were operating “boldly” in Sudan. According to independent media agency The Sudan Tribune, Saleh appealed to local authorities and the community to take a stand against “Christianisation” and find a long-term solution to what he views as a massive problem.
He says his government’s efforts in this regard are timid compared to missionaries’ efforts and claims 109 people have converted from Islam to Christianity in Khartoum. Saleh says these figures are growing in a “continuous” and “scary” fashion.
Dykstra says there are two sides to this coin. “The bad news is that he wants to put more pressure on the government and the army to crack down on the Christians there,” he explains. “But the good news is that many there are coming to Christ.” Despite persecution, Open Doors is seeing the Body of Christ in Sudan grow. “It’s been difficult for them obviously, but they are growing in numbers,” states Dykstra. In addition, a member of Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP), Adam Mudawi, claims the NCP has information indicating that the Orthodox Church in Ombadda is hiding a large cache of weapons. Mudawi also accuses the church of exploiting poor people by giving them financial support and assistance if they convert to Christianity. According to Open Doors, Sudanese Christians have seen a dramatic increase in pressure over the past few months. Churches are being forced to close, and foreign workers are being kicked out of the country. Given this tense atmosphere, Mudawi’s accusations may have serious consequences for Christians in Sudan.
“We need to pray for Christians, especially those that are being marginalized around Khartoum,” says Dykstra. “We also need to pray that there will be peace.”
To help Sudanese Christians cope with growing persecution, Open Doors recently held two Standing Strong Through the Storm seminars. These seminars teach Christians how to relate to persecution and how to pray for one another. A total of 13 different denominations were represented at the two seminars. “The focus was to advance church unity, and many of the people who attended really appreciated the seminars,” Dykstra says. “It was a blessing that nobody was targeted or they weren’t broken up.” Persecution in Sudan has moved the country from #16 on the Open Doors 2012 World Watch List to #12 in 2013.