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Ramadan Day 17: Praying for Muslims to come to Christ – Sudanese Arabs

(Voice of the Persecuted) Sudanese Arabs, weary and mistrustful after years of fighting.

WHO ARE SUDANESE ARABS?

Sudan has a very long and complicated history, influenced by cultures from the north, south, east, and west. Sudanese Arabs (population est. 43 million) include city dwellers, rural farmers, and pastoral nomads. Most live close to the Nile River, Sudan’s most distinct physical feature, whose two major tributaries converge in the capital, Khartoum.

The significance of the strong, traditional tribal system decreases the closer one gets to urban areas. Sudanese Arabic is the primary language for government, business, education, and the arts.

Islam arrived with the Arabs in the 7th century. “Sudan” stems from the Arabic word for “black.” The Arabization and Islamization of Sudan over the centuries has created an identity crisis among both Arab Africans and Black Africans.

WHAT ARE SUDANESE ARABS’ GREATEST STRUGGLES?

People are tired of the fighting. Few trust each other. Many live without hope. Most simply want to live life in peace, work, get married, have children, and earn enough to feed their families.

Sudan remains one of the poorest countries in the world. Access to clean water and decent health care is very limited. Young men who want to get married lack the resources to provide a dowry.

Sudanese who claim direct Arab ancestry have an advantage over Black Africans who have been “grafted in” as Arabs through intermarriage and/or conversion to Islam. This “Arab racial supremacy” is, in part, tied to the history of slavery in the country and generates deep resentment.

Various conflicts have impacted Sudan for centuries. South Sudan seceded from Sudan in 2011, and the fight over territory and lucrative southern oil reserves rages on. The Sudanese are also wrestling to create a new identity and government infrastructure since the 2019 ouster of Omar al Bashir.

Sunni Muslims, the majority, are often organized into religious “brotherhoods” with strong Sufi (mystical) influences. Holy men and women are important figures. Pre-Islamic beliefs in spirits and magic continue to influence the daily practice of Islam.

The political organization known as the “Muslim Brotherhood” (originating in Egypt) was established in Sudan in the 1960s and heavily influenced the government under the brutal dictatorship of Omar al Bashir from 1989 to 2019.

WHAT IS GOD DOING AMONG SUDANESE ARABS?

Christians in Sudan have suffered greatly – especially over the past 30 years, as the state implemented Sharia law, terrorized believers, confiscated church properties, and forbade the distribution of Christian literature. Most foreign Christian missionaries and organizations were expelled after the establishment of South Sudan in 2011.

Since al Bashir’s ouster, the new Minister of Religious Affairs has promised that confiscated lands and properties would be returned to churches and that Christians would be guaranteed freedom of worship. Christmas was declared a public holiday in 2019, and believers marched in the streets singing and chanting their praises to God! They are cautiously optimistic about the future. However, while the state may no longer officially persecute Christians, their family and friends most likely will.

House church fellowships are growing along with the national churches. There is a renewed conviction that Sudanese Arabs will be reached by Sudanese believers. These fellowships need discipleship and leadership development, especially in areas of personal holiness. The New Testament is available in Sudanese Arabic, as are the JESUS film and other media; however, more internet and radio broadcast resources are needed to reach and teach oral learners.

PRAYER POINTS

  • Pray that all unreached people groups across Sudan would have access to the truth, the life, the hope, and the joy that are only available through Jesus Christ.

We continue to pray for the persecuted:

  •  Leah Sharibu and Alice, both held captive by the Boko Haram.
  • For Pastor Wanh Yi from China, who has been sentenced to 9 years in prison for sharing boldly the love of God.
  • For Anita, a Christian convert recently sentenced to 10 years in prison for sharing the Gospel in Iran.
  • For Pakistani Christians and other minorities who are facing discrimination and persecution during the coronavirus crisis. Muslims are denying Christians relief food packages because of their faith in Christ.

“Our prayers do have an impact on the things of eternity and the souls of men and women to find truth in him who is the Living Word. Please join us on the prayer conference call to lift prayers up together. As ever, I remain your brother and prayer partner in our Lord Jesus. Meet you on the call!

If you are unable to participate on the call, or cannot join us on a particular evening, you can still use the prayer points and pray in your personal prayer closet. The only thing I would urge you is, please do it.  Whether you pray privately, in a group, or on our call, please pray for a great harvest of souls during this time of Ramadan.” – Blaine Scogin, Founder of Persecution Watch and former Prayer Director of Voice of the Persecuted.

As Blaine Scogin did each year, the team will continue to host nightly calls during Ramadan. We will be following along with the Prayercast Team’s platform in praying for Muslims for the next 30 days, which began on April 24. Please sign up here to receive the daily video and prayer points from Prayercast which we will cover on the nightly prayer conference calls. If you have yet to do so, it’s not to late. Dear brothers and sisters, we challenge you to join us on the conference call to pray with us during these 30 nights of prayer for the persecuted, the harvest, and for Muslims to come out of the dark, receive the truth and follow Jesus.

In Christ,

Voice of the Persecuted and the Persecution Watch Prayer Team

Nightly call schedule through Ramadan 

From any location on your phone

Time:

9:00 PM Eastern

8:00 PM Central

7:00 PM Mountain

6:00 PM Pacific

Call in number: 712 775-7035

Access Code: 281207#

Recommended: For those who may be subject to added charges for conference calls. Please download the app, it’s free!

MOBILE APP: Free Conference Call HD also provides a quick and easy way for you to dial into conference calls without having to remember the dial-in credentials. Save all of your conference call dial-in numbers and access codes using this free app. With the Free Conference Call HD you can instantly dial into a conference call via 3G/4G data network and or regular mobile carrier. Google Play link or App Store – iTunes

What is Persecution Watch?
Persecution Watch is a U.S. national prayer conference call ministry that prays specifically for the global Persecuted Church. For over a decade, Blaine Scogin led this national network of believers who faithfully pray for the persecuted and the global harvest for the Kingdom of God. The group meets via a free call-in service every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday night at 9pm Eastern (please check your time zone). Blaine also served as Prayer Director for Voice of the Persecuted and our missions became one. The prayer mission of Persecution Watch is an important part of our own. With the passing of Blaine into glory on December 26, 2019, Voice of the Persecuted is committed to continue the prayer conference call for the persecuted along with our dedicated prayer warrior team.

On occasion, persecuted brothers and sisters have been invited on the call to share the trials they’re facing. The team serves to encourage them by washing their feet in Spirit led prayer. Time is often reserved for those on the call to ask questions. We believe this helps to gain a better understanding of the situation that persecuted Christians endure in their specific nations. Q&A also helps us to focus our prayers based on their current needs.

Persecution Watch also hosts callers who want to pray united from other nations. If your heart is perplexed by the sufferings of our persecuted brothers and sisters, you no longer need to pray alone. We welcome all who desire to pray for the persecuted church and consider it a joy to pray together with you. If you’re new to the call and can’t find your voice, listen in and pray silently or on mute. We are grateful and thank the Lord for bringing us all together to pray in agreement for our persecuted family in Christ. We can all be prayer warriors on this call!

NOTE: Persecution Watch has a new email address for the prayer team and those who would like to receive urgent prayer requests, weekly call prayer points and notification of special prayer events and special guest speakers. Please fill out the form below to be included in our new distribution list to receive this important information. Since the passing of Brother Blaine Scogin, we thank you for your patience as we have transitioned into this new season. We are grateful for your prayers and to the Lord for guiding us as we continue the Persecution Watch prayer call mission.

Note to Voice of the Persecuted (VOP) readers: The Persecution Watch prayer team is also the prayer team of Voice of the Persecuted. SIGN UP today.

Persecution Watch Prayer Conference Call: SUDAN

 

 

4/9/2020 (Voice of the Persecuted) Again, we want to lift up two persecuted witnesses for the Lord and pray for Leah Sharibu and Alice that this year will be the year where they will be set free. And also pray for pastor Wang Yi to be released from Prison.

Sudan

Population: 42,5 million, Christians 1.9 million

Sudan’s current political chaos has left Christians in limbo. The secession of South Sudan in 2011 has also made Christians more vulnerable as Islamic conservatives in Sudan push for a Shariah State. In 2019, civilian protests brought an end to the rule of dictator Hassan al Bashir. Further civilian protests forced the transitional military council to seek agreement with the coalition of opposition forces.

The ethnic-cultural landscape of the country is also complicated: Arab versus ethnic African, Muslim versus Christian. This is particularly true for ethnic Africans, as a significant number are Christian and still living in the country. All Christian communities in Sudan are afraid of having conversations about their faith with Sudanese Muslims as this might be construed as being an “act that encourages apostasy against Islam.” The level of persecution that converts and ethnic Africans face is enormous. There have been arrests; many churches have been demolished and others are on an official list awaiting demolition; many Christians have been attacked indiscriminately in areas like the Nuba Mountains where there is an ongoing conflict between government forces and rebel groups.

So as not to be discovered, converts from Islam will often refrain from raising their children as Christians because this might attract the attention of the government and community leaders (since children might inadvertently reveal the faith of their parents). This fear even extends to funerals where deceased Christians with a Muslim background are often buried according to Islamic rites in Muslim cemeteries, even though Christian and Muslim cemeteries are separate.

Christian converts with a Muslim background are particularly at risk since the law officially punishes conversion from Islam to another religion by death. They usually refrain from owning Christian materials or accessing Christian TV or websites. If discovered, these could be used as evidence against them by family or officials.

Christian children are often harassed in school or playgrounds due to their parent’s faith. A very high level of violence against Christians is evident, particularly in the Nuba Mountains, Darfur, South Kordofan and the Blue Nile State regions where Christians are targeted indiscriminately by government security forces. Thousands have been killed or displaced.

Prayer Points

Thank the Lord for these changes in Government and the agreement that was reached. Pray for continued openness as much uncertainty still remains, especially for religious minorities like Christians.

Pray for wisdom and accountability for the new transitional council headed by Abdalla Hamdok.

Pray that true religious freedom will be implemented following the coup.

Pray that the Lord will be encouraging His children and all who have been pained by the killings during the unrest.

Pray that believers will be bold in reaching out to the unsaved and that they will find open doors for the Gospel.

Pray for God to grant wisdom and protection to His believers who do covert ministry work.

Pray for protection and peace for Christians who converted from Islam. As family, friends and radical Muslims pressure and threaten them to deny their faith.

Pray that His believers are anchored in His word.

Pray to the Lord that the media will start reporting on Christian persecution by the government and radical Muslims

Pray that believers can love and forgive their persecutors

Pray that the Lord will both protect the community of the saints and add to their numbers in spite of the hostile environment.

Many blessings,

Andy, Prayer Call Moderator for Persecution Watch

Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday

From any location on your phone

Time:

9:00 PM EST

8:00 PM CST

7:00 PM MST

6:00 PM PST

Call in number: 712 775-7035

Access Code: 281207#

Recommended: For those who may be subject to added charges for conference calls. Please download the app, it’s free!

MOBILE APP: Free Conference Call HD also provides a quick and easy way for you to dial into conference calls without having to remember the dial-in credentials. Save all of your conference call dial-in numbers and access codes using this free app. With the Free Conference Call HD you can instantly dial into a conference call via 3G/4G data network and or regular mobile carrier. Google Play link or App Store – iTunes

What is Persecution Watch?
Persecution Watch is a U.S. national prayer conference call ministry that prays specifically for the global Persecuted Church. For over a decade, Blaine Scogin led this national network of believers who faithfully pray for the persecuted and the global harvest for the Kingdom of God. The group meets via a free call-in service every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday night at 9pm Eastern (please check your time zone). Blaine also served as Prayer Director for Voice of the Persecuted and our missions became one. The prayer mission of Persecution Watch is an important part of our own. With the passing of Blaine into glory on December 26, 2019, Voice of the Persecuted is committed to continue the prayer conference call for the persecuted along with our dedicated prayer warrior team.

On occasion, persecuted brothers and sisters have been invited on the call to share the trials they’re facing. The team serves to encourage them by washing their feet in Spirit led prayer. Time is often reserved for those on the call to ask questions. We believe this helps to gain a better understanding of the situation that persecuted Christians endure in their specific nations. Q&A also helps us to focus our prayers based on their current needs.

Persecution Watch also hosts callers who want to pray united from other nations. If your heart is perplexed by the sufferings of our persecuted brothers and sisters, you no longer need to pray alone. We welcome all who desire to pray for the persecuted church and consider it a joy to pray together with you. If you’re new to the call and can’t find your voice, listen in and pray silently or on mute. We are grateful and thank the Lord for bringing us all together to pray in agreement for our persecuted family in Christ. We can all be prayer warriors on this call!

NOTE: Persecution Watch has a new email address for the prayer team and those who would like to receive urgent prayer requests, weekly call prayer points and notification of special prayer events and special guest speakers. Please fill out the form below to be included in our new distribution list to receive this important information. Since the passing of Brother Blaine Scogin, we thank you for your patience as we have transitioned into this new season. We are grateful for your prayers and to the Lord for guiding us as we continue the Persecution Watch prayer call mission.

Note to Voice of the Persecuted (VOP) readers: The Persecution Watch prayer team is also the prayer team of Voice of the Persecuted. SIGN UP today

Former Muslim from Sudan Forced into Hiding

An ethnic Messiria (Misseriya Arab) elder at meeting on status of Abyei administrative area. (Wikipedia, Sudan Envoy)

Sudan (Morning Star News) – It was more than a year ago that Muslims in the disputed area between Sudan and South Sudan noticed that Ahmed Alnour was no longer reciting his Islamic prayers five times a day.

The tribesman of the ethnic Misseriya Arabs was helping support his wife and seven children in Sudan working as a scrap trader at the Ameth common market in Abyei, a 4,072-square mile special administrative area on the border formed from the peace agreement that ended civil war in Sudan in 2005.

Alnour would soon have to leave that work, forced to flee when area Muslims confirmed that he had become a Christian.

“I saw them and heard them saying, ‘We will kill you because you left Islam and became infidel,’” he said of their attempt to burn down his home the afternoon of April 1, 2019.

Neighbors were able to douse the flames and he escaped unharmed, but on April 8 the assailants returned at 1 a.m. as he slept. He awoke to find his house in flames.

Alnour told Morning Star News that before Christians arrived to rescue him, he heard one of the assailants say in Arabic, “Let us throw him back in the fire, since he has abandoned Islam.”

The Christians took him to a hospital for treatment the following morning. He had lost all his possessions in the fire, including 600,000 South Sudanese pounds equivalent to US$6,000, but he had not lost his faith in Christ, he said.

The 43-year-old father of seven children ages 4 to 24 had put his faith in Christ just a few months prior. Paralyzed from an illness for three months in Agok, Abyei area, he received a visit from two evangelists who prayed for him and told him of salvation in Christ.

Alnour said he felt a conviction in his heart, and that after placing his trust in Christ he was healed.

“I was able to get up and walk after three months of sickness,” he said.

He was baptized at a church last Christmas. In hiding since the attacks last year, he has obtained a job and temporary quarters from church friends at an undisclosed village in the Abyei area.

Risks are growing as Muslims are looking for him, he said. Fear of Muslims’ reactions in Sudan and lack of economic opportunity keep him from going home to his family, but someday he hopes to be able to return and tell them about Christ, he said.

“I want to tell my family about my new faith in Jesus, and I am sure they will believe with me,” Alnour said.

In light of advances in religious freedom since Omar al-Bashir was ousted as president of Sudan in April 2019, the U.S. State Department announced on Dec. 20 that Sudan had been removed from the list of Countries of Particular Concern (CPC) that engage in or tolerate “systematic, ongoing and egregious violations of religious freedom” and was upgraded to a watch list.

Sudan had been designated a CPC by the U.S. State Department since 1999.

Following the secession of South Sudan in 2011, Bashir had vowed to adopt a stricter version of sharia (Islamic law) and recognize only Islamic culture and the Arabic language. Church leaders said Sudanese authorities demolished or confiscated churches and limited Christian literature on the pretext that most Christians have left the country following South Sudan’s secession.

In April 2013 the then-Sudanese Minister of Guidance and Endowments announced that no new licenses would be granted for building new churches in Sudan, citing a decrease in the South Sudanese population. Sudan since 2012 has expelled foreign Christians and bulldozed church buildings. Besides raiding Christian bookstores and arresting Christians, authorities threatened to kill South Sudanese Christians who did not leave or cooperate with them in their effort to find other Christians.

After Bashir was deposed, military leaders initially formed a military council to rule the country, but further demonstrations led them to accept a transitional government of civilians and military figures, with a predominantly civilian government to be democratically elected in three years. Christians were expected to have greater voice under the new administration.

The new government that was sworn in on Sept. 8, 2019 led by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, an economist, is tasked with governing during a transition period of 39 months. It faces the challenges of rooting out longstanding corruption and an Islamist “deep state” rooted in Bashir’s 30 years of power.

Sudan ranked 7th on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2020 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.

Sudan: Three churches burned down twice within one month

Pulpit in the Al Gadaref Lutheran Church, eastern Sudan, following an arson attack in 2015. (Photo: World Watch Monitor)

(World Watch Monitor) Three churches in Sudan’s southern Blue Nile state, rebuilt after arson attacks in December, were burned down again in January, reports a Sudanese rights organisation.

On the evening of 28 December, the Sudan Internal Church, Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church in Bout town, near the border with South Sudan, were set alight, said the Human Rights and Development Organisation (HUDO). The incidents were reported to the police who, HUDO said, did not investigate further.

The three churches were restored with local materials, only to be set on fire again by unidentified arsonists on 16 January.

Minister of Religious Affairs Nasr al-Din Mufreh said that, contrary to HUDO’s report, the police are investigating. “If it is proven that it occurred as a result of a criminal offence, the perpetrators will be identified, pursued and brought to justice,” he said in a statement, reaffirming “Sudan’s full commitment to protecting religious freedoms and “houses of worship from any threats”.

Sudan’s Blue Nile and South Kordofan states are at the centre of an ongoing armed conflict between government forces and militants belonging to the Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM). Years of fighting has sent hundreds of thousands of people fleeing their homes in the region where most of Sudan’s Christians live.

In a separate development, a Sudanese Christian businessman was arrested at Khartoum airport on 27 January as he returned from five years in exile, reports CSW. Ashraf Samir Mousad Obid fled the country in 2015 after a harassment campaign by the country’s former security service, the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS). He was arrested despite having received a guarantee that he was free to travel. After a short time in detention he was released but was told not to leave the country.

Sudan is 7th on the Open Doors World Watch List of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to live as a Christian.

Christmas Celebrations Mark Progress of Religious Freedom in Sudan

Muslim government officials attend Christmas service at Khartoum Bahri Evangelical Church on Dec. 25, 2019. (Facebook)

(Morning Star News) – In stark contrast to his predecessor, Sudan’s new minister of religious affairs last week attended a long-persecuted church’s Christmas service.

Following the Sudanese government’s announcement of Christmas as a public holiday for the first time in eight years, Minister of Religious Affairs Nasr al-Din Mufreh accompanied senior government officials at the Christmas Day service of Khartoum Bahri Evangelical Church – a congregation the previous Islamist government had harassed for years.

At a press conference after visiting several churches in Khartoum on Christmas Day, the Muslim leader sent a strong signal of religious coexistence to Christians in a country where they suffered for their faith under former President Omar al-Bashir.

“I tender my apology for the oppression and the harm enforced on you physically by [the prior government’s] bulldozing your church buildings, arresting and falsely imprisoning your church leaders and raiding your property,” Mufreh said, according to Radio Dabanga.

Sudan had suspended Christmas as a holiday following the secession of South Sudan in 2011. The government-run Sudan TV on Christmas Day broadcast Christmas services of various churches in Khartoum, including the Khartoum Bahri Evangelical Church, whose members had been subject to arrests on false charges and whose property had been threatened. The church is part of the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church (SPEC), which has been embroiled in property disputes, with the government appointing a government-run committee to assume control of the denomination.

In light of advances in religious freedom since Bashir was ousted in April, the U.S. State Department announced on Dec. 20 that Sudan had been removed from the list of Countries of Particular Concern (CPC) that engage or tolerate “systematic, ongoing and egregious violations of religious freedom” and was upgraded to a watch list. Sudan had been designated a CPC by the U.S. State Department since 1999.

Bashir, ousted by the army on April 11 after widespread protests began in December 2018, was sentenced on Dec. 14 to two years in a correctional facility for corruption and illegitimate possession of foreign currency. He still faces charges of plotting the 1989 coup that brought him to power.

Bashir has not yet been charged in the crackdown earlier this year that killed more than 250 protestors.

Among 11 people appointed to a Sovereignty Council to oversee the transition to civilian rule in Sudan is Raja Nicola Eissa Abdel-Masih, a Coptic Christian who long served as a judge in Sudan’s Ministry of Justice. She was one of six civilians appointed to the council on Aug. 21.

Amid these hopeful signs, Christians in Sudan are still awaiting the return of properties seized by the government under Bashir, who also has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for directing a campaign of mass killing, rape, and pillage against civilians in Darfur.

Following the secession of South Sudan in 2011, Bashir had vowed to adopt a stricter version of sharia (Islamic law) and recognize only Islamic culture and the Arabic language. Church leaders said Sudanese authorities have demolished or confiscated churches and limited Christian literature on the pretext that most Christians have left the country following South Sudan’s secession.

In April 2013 the then-Sudanese Minister of Guidance and Endowments announced that no new licenses would be granted for building new churches in Sudan, citing a decrease in the South Sudanese population. Sudan since 2012 has expelled foreign Christians and bulldozed church buildings. Besides raiding Christian bookstores and arresting Christians, authorities threatened to kill South Sudanese Christians who did not leave or cooperate with them in their effort to find other Christians.

After Bashir was deposed, military leaders initially formed a military council to rule the country, but further demonstrations led them to accept a transitional government of civilians and military figures, with a predominantly civilian government to be democratically elected in three years.

Christians are expected to have greater voice under the new administration. In September pastor Mobarak Hamad, former head of the Sudanese Church Council, demanded that the transitional government return all church buildings, lands and properties wrongfully confiscated by the former regime.

Religious Affairs Minister Mufreh told Asharq Al-Awsat his ministry would fight terrorism, extremism and takfiri notions – punishments for leaving Islam. Mufreh previously worked as a leader in the Al-Ansar Mosque in Rabak, south of Khartoum.

The new government that was sworn in on Sept. 8, led by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, an economist, is tasked with governing during a transition period of 39 months. It faces the challenges of rooting out longstanding corruption and an Islamist “deep state” rooted in Bashir’s 30 years of power.

Hamad, the former chairman of the Sudan Council of Churches, has said that the government should recover all properties confiscated under the previous regime, including the Catholic Club and another building belonging to the Sudan Interior Church.

The Catholic Club, strategically located near the Khartoum International Airport, was turned into the headquarters of Bashir’s National Congress Party. The Sudan Interior Church building, used by the Khartoum International Church and other Christian organizations, was turned into offices for the notorious National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS).

On July 29, Chairman of the Military Council Abdul Fattah Al-Burhan issued a decision to amend the name of NISS to General Intelligence Service. The measure also froze Article 50 of the Law of Security Service, which had given NISS broad powers of inspection and detention without cause, widely misused against Christians and political opponents.

Sudan fought a civil war with the south Sudanese from 1983 to 2005, and in June 2011, shortly before the secession of South Sudan the following month, the government began fighting a rebel group in the Nuba Mountains that has its roots in South Sudan.

Sudan ranked sixth on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.

Religious Affairs Minister in Sudan Signals Freedom of Religion in New Era

(Morning Star News) – In another sign that Islamist elements hostile to Christianity in Sudan could be reined in, the minister of religious affairs has reiterated that Christian properties confiscated under the previous regime would be returned.

Acknowledging that Christians were persecuted and endured “very bad practices” under the regime of former President Omar al-Bashir, Minister of Religious Affairs Nasr al-Din Mufreh on Sunday (Nov. 3) was quoted in International Arabic newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat as saying property stolen from Sudanese Christians would be returned through court proceedings.

Mufreh also had told media in September that confiscated church properties should be returned.

In Sunday’s article in which he invited expelled Jews to return to Sudan – as he had in September, drawing criticism from Muslim hardliners – Mufreh said that Christians and people of other beliefs are free to practice their faith in Sudan.

“They [Christians] are Sudanese, and their religion is heavenly with its values and beliefs,” Mufreh told Asharq Al-Awsat, saying that Christians have such a presence in Sudan that they should not be described as a minority.

Sudanese Christians hope the comments mark a sea change from the Islamist campaign of Bashir, ousted by the army on April 11 after widespread protests began in December 2018. Following the secession of South Sudan in 2011, Bashir had vowed to adopt a stricter version of sharia (Islamic law) and recognize only Islamic culture and the Arabic language.

Church leaders said Sudanese authorities have demolished or confiscated churches and limited Christian literature on the pretext that most Christians have left the country following South Sudan’s secession.

In April 2013 the then-Sudanese Minister of Guidance and Endowments announced that no new licenses would be granted for building new churches in Sudan, citing a decrease in the South Sudanese population. Sudan since 2012 has expelled foreign Christians and bulldozed church buildings. Besides raiding Christian bookstores and arresting Christians, authorities threatened to kill South Sudanese Christians who do not leave or cooperate with them in their effort to find other Christians.

After Bashir was deposed, military leaders initially formed a military council to rule the country, but further demonstrations led them to accept a transitional government of civilians and military figures, with a predominantly civilian government to be democratically elected in three years.

Christians are expected to have greater voice under the new administration. [They have been praying for a real change.] In September pastor Mobarak Hamaad, former head of the Sudanese Church Council, demanded that the transitional government return all church buildings, lands and properties wrongfully confiscated by the former regime.

Religious Affairs Minister Mufreh toldAsharq Al-Awsat his ministry would fight terrorism, extremism and takfiri notionspunishments for leaving Islam. He said Islamic State (IS) had no cells established in the country while acknowledging that members had likely entered.

The Sudanese Islamic Movement project has been defeated in political and community life thanks to the glorious revolution,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat, while acknowledging that a number of Islamist elements have begun trying to spread extremist ideas in Sudanese mosques.

“We will besiege these mosques with a serious discourse calling for moderation and the fight against extremism,” Mufreh told the Arabic-language news outlet.

Mufreh previously worked as a leader in the Al-Ansar Mosque in Rabak, south of Khartoum.

New Era?

The new government that was sworn in on Sept. 8, led by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, an economist, is tasked with governing during a transition period of 39 months. It faces the challenges of rooting out longstanding corruption and an Islamist “deep state” rooted in Bashir’s 30 years of power.

Bashir, who came to power in an Islamist-backed coup in 1989, faces charges of illegal acquisition and use of foreign funds. In Khartoum’s Kobar prison, he is charged with “inciting and participating in” the killing of protestors. In March 2009, the International Criminal Court indicted him for directing a campaign of mass killing, rape, and pillage against civilians in Darfur.

Hamad, the former chairman of the Sudan Council of Churches, has said that the government should recover all properties confiscated under the previous regime, including the Catholic Club and another building belonging to the Sudan Interior Church.

The Catholic Club, strategically located near the Khartoum International Airport, was turned into the headquarters of Bashir’s National Congress Party. The Sudan Interior Church building, used by the Khartoum International Church and other Christian organizations, was turned into offices for the notorious National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS).

On July 29, Chairman of the Military Council Abdul Fattah Al-Burhan issued a decision to amend the name of NISS to General Intelligence Service. The measure also froze Article 50 of the Law of Security Service, which had given NISS  broad powers of inspection and detention without cause, widely misused against Christians and political opponents.

Sudan fought a civil war with the south Sudanese from 1983 to 2005, and in June 2011, shortly before the secession of South Sudan the following month, the government began fighting a rebel group in the Nuba Mountains that has its roots in South Sudan.

Due to its treatment of Christians and other human rights violations, Sudan has been designated a Country of Particular Concern by the U.S. State Department since 1999.

Sudan ranked sixth on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.

Please pray for Sudanese Christians.

Christians in Darfur, Sudan Arrested during Combined Worship of House Churches

Market street and post office in Nyala, South Darfur, Sudan. (Wikipedia)

(Morning Star News)– Security officials in Sudan last week arrested 13 Christians during a worship service in the Darfur Region, sources said.

Personnel from Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) interrupted the worship service the afternoon of Oct. 10 in Nyala, capital of South Darfur state in western Sudan’s Darfur Region and arrested all 13 Christians present (not Oct. 13 while evangelizing Muslims, as reported elsewhere), the sources said.

NISS personnel gave no reason for arresting the Christians, members of four different churches who had come together for the service, except to say that they were all converts from Islam, the sources said. Authorities are targeting Christian converts from Islam in Darfur, they said.

“We are worried because their whereabouts are still unknown,” said one source, adding that he feared they might be tortured. “The Christians gathered as one body of Christ from different denominations.”

The arrested Christians include 10 from Darfur and three from the Nuba Mountains in southeastern Sudan. Church leader Tajaldin Idriss Yousif was arrested along with his church members: Alfadil Ismail Alnil, Ahmed Mohammed Hassan, Neseraldin Osman, Shemen Ahmed Shemen and Abubaker Biri.

Other Christians arrested were identified only as Kamal, Abdullah, Mutasim, Mujahid, El Sadik Afendi, Bolis Suliman and Abdel Maseh. NISS, widely regarded as a notorious agency staffed by hard-line Islamists, may hold people in detention for up to four and a half months without charges.

Following the secession of South Sudan in 2011, Sudan President Omar al-Bashir vowed to adopt a stricter version of sharia (Islamic law) and recognize only Islamic culture and the Arabic language. Church leaders said Sudanese authorities have demolished or confiscated churches and limited Christian literature on the pretext that most Christians have left the country following South Sudan’s secession.

The Sudanese Minister of Guidance and Endowments announced in April 2013 that no new licenses would be granted for building new churches in Sudan, citing a decrease in the South Sudanese population.

Sudan since 2012 has expelled foreign Christians and bulldozed church buildings on the pretext that they belonged to South Sudanese. Besides raiding Christian bookstores and arresting Christians, authorities threatened to kill South Sudanese Christians who do not leave or cooperate with them in their effort to find other Christians.

Sudan fought a civil war with the south Sudanese from 1983 to 2005, and in June 2011, shortly before the secession of South Sudan the following month, the government began fighting a rebel group in the Nuba Mountains that has its roots in South Sudan.

Due to its treatment of Christians and other human rights violations, Sudan has been designated a Country of Particular Concern by the U.S. State Department since 1999.

UPDATE:

Sudanese police released ten Darfuri Christians on Sunday, 21 October, after they faced severe pressure for their faith and were beaten, a local source has told World Watch Monitor.

The ten were part of a group of 13 Christians who were taken by security officials from a home they shared in the city of Nyala, southwest Darfur, on 13 October. It is not clear on what charges they were arrested, though three of them were released shortly after.

It is also unclear if any of them will face further prosecution, according to World Watch Monitor’s source.

 

ROME’S COLOSSEUM TO BE LIT RED FOR PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS

The Roman Colosseum Photo: Wikipedia

By Dan Wooding (Assist News)  The Roman Colosseum will be illuminated by red lights later this month to draw attention to the persecution of Christians around the world, and especially in Syria and Iraq.

On Saturday, Feb. 24, at 6 p.m. the Colosseum will be spotlighted in red, to represent the blood of Christians who have been wounded or lost their lives due to religious persecution, according to Crux.

Simultaneously, in Syria and Iraq, prominent churches will be illuminated with red lights. In Aleppo, the St. Elijah Maronite Cathedral will be lit, and in Mosul, the Church of St. Paul, where this past Dec. 24, the first Mass was celebrated after the city’s liberation from ISIS.

The event, sponsored by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) — follows a similar initiative last year, which lit-up London’s Parliament building in red, as well as the Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Paris and the cathedral in Manila, Philippines. In 2016, the famous Trevi Fountain in Rome was lit. 

Alessandro Monteduro, director of ACN, told journalists on Feb. 7 that the “illumination [of the Colosseum] will have two symbolic figures: Asia Bibi, the Pakistani Christian condemned to death for blasphemy and whose umpteenth judgment is expected to revoke the sentence; and Rebecca, a girl kidnapped by Boko Haram along with her two children when she was pregnant with a third.”

“One of the children was killed,” he said, “she lost the baby she was carrying, and then became pregnant after one of the many brutalities she was subjected to by her captors.”

Once she was freed and reunited with her husband, she decided she “could not hate those who caused her so much pain,” Monteduro said. [Read Voice of the Persecuted’s (VOP) report: Held Captive For 2 Years By Boko Haram: Rebecca’s Story and the relief sent to them through VOP’s aid mission, Project 133 Nigeria here.]

Rebecca and family united. Photo: Voice of the Persecuted

Aid to the Church in Need released a biennial report on anti-Christian persecution Oct. 12, 2017, detailing how Christianity is “the world’s most oppressed faith community,” and how anti-Christian persecution in the worst regions has reached “a new peak.”

The report reviewed 13 countries, and concluded that in all but one, the situation for Christians was worse in overall terms for the period 2015-2017 than during the prior two years.

“The one exception is Saudi Arabia, where the situation was already so bad it could scarcely get any worse,” the report said.

China, Eritrea, Iraq, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Syria were ranked “extreme” in the scale of anti-Christian persecution. Egypt, India, and Iran were rated “high to extreme,” while Turkey was rated “moderate to high.”

The Middle East was a major focus for the report.

British Parliament lit up in red.

“Governments in the West and the U.N. failed to offer Christians in countries such as Iraq and Syria the emergency help they needed as genocide got underway,” the report said. “If Christian organizations and other institutions had not filled the gap, the Christian presence could already have disappeared in Iraq and other parts of the Middle East.”

The exodus of Christians from Iraq has been “very severe.” Christians in the country now may number as few as 150,000, a decline from 275,000 in mid-2015. By spring 2017 there were some signs of hope, with the defeat of the Islamic State group and the return of some Christians to their homes on the Nineveh Plains.

The departure of Christians from Syria has also threatened the survival of their communities in the country, including historic Christian centers like Aleppo, ACN said. Syrian Christians there suffer threats of forced conversion and extortion. One Chaldean bishop in the country estimates the Christian population to be at 500,000, down from 1.2 million before the war.

Many Christians in the region fear going to official refugee camps, due to concerns about rape and other violence, according to the report.

A man prays in a bombed out church in Aleppo.

ACN also discussed the genocide committed in Syria and Iraq by the Islamic State and other militants. While ISIS and other groups have lost their major strongholds, ACN said that many Christian groups are threatened with extinction and would likely not survive another attack.

A spokesperson for Aid to the Church in Need, said, “We invite everyone to attend, either in person or in spirit, on February 24, 2018 at around 6 p.m. in Largo Gaetana Agnesi, Rome.”

About the writer: Dan Wooding, 77, is an award-winning author, broadcaster and journalist who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, Alfred and Anne Wooding, and is now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for nearly 55 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. Dan has written numerous books, and his most recent reporting trip for ANS was to Kurdistan in Northern Iraq.

HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED

VOP is on the ground helping persecuted Christian refugees from Nigeria and Pakistan. Together with your generous help, we can reach the goal to alleviate horrific suffering. In darkness and desperation, let us serve in love, with open arms and giving hands to provide light and hope. Every day, we thank God that He is working through you to care for His children and to further HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTEDHis Kingdom! As you greatly bless others, may God continue to bless you. Thank you so much for your support. We couldn’t do it without you!

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