KHARTOUM – The nation of Sudan has been a veritable poster child for the persecution of Christians. Recent news, however, indicates that things may be about to change.
The World Watch List 2020, published by Open Doors, ranked Sudan as the seventh most dangerous country for Christians, mainly due to extremely high levels of violence. In 2019, Sudan retained its status as one of the USCIRF (U.S. Commission on International Foreign Relations) Tier One “countries of particular concern” (CPC) It has been one of the U.S. State Department’s CPCs since 1999.
However, on March 17, 2020, The USCIRF issued a press release commending Sudan’s Transitional Government and its Minister of Religious Affairs and Endowments for the “Disbanding of Former Regime-Appointed Church Councils.”
The government-related church councils operated as fronts for persecuting Christians as well as shuttering and demolishing Christian churches. USCIRF Commissioner, Anurima Bhargava said,
“By disbanding these church councils, the Sudanese government is returning agency to religious organizations and allowing them to conduct their own affairs. We hope this decree serves as an important first step in extending full rights to long-persecuted religious minority communities, including the restoration of property seized by the former regime.”
Yahia Abdelrahim Nalu, the leader of the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church, was encouraged by the Transitional Government’s abolition of the illegitimate church councils.
“Most of the problems that occurred in churches, i.e., the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church, the Sudanese Church of Christ and the Pentecostal churches, were caused by the committees appointed by the government.”
The prior ruling regime in Sudan imposed a strict application of sharia law that permitted only Islamic culture. Officials destroyed churches on the pretext that Christians had migrated to South Sudan. Therefore, the churches were no longer needed. The Sudanese Presbyterian Evangelical Church, the Sudanese Church of Christ, and Pentecostal churches were primary targets of the church councils. Some pastors were arrested and detained.
The abolition of the church councils is great news for Sudanese Christians and is undoubtedly an answer to their prayers and ours for them to be able to live a peaceable life as followers of Christ.
During the past year, the Transitional Government had already begun to establish the groundwork for greater religious freedom. Islam is no longer recognized as the law governing the country. The constant threat of persecution, execution, and destruction should greatly diminish, but there is still much to be done.
Pray for the churches and pastors as they must reclaim their church properties through the Sudanese legal system. Pray that these proceedings will be conducted in conformity with the regulations and reforms being implemented by the current regime.
USCIRF chairman Tony Perkins noted,
“This decree confirms our sense that while Sudan has many serious challenges ahead, its transitional leadership is sincere in its promise to implement concrete and meaningful measures to improve religious freedom conditions in the country,”
Missions Box News encourages readers to offer a prayer of praise to the Lord for this good news from Sudan.
To read more news on Religious Freedom on Missions Box, go here.
- USCIRF, USCIRF Commends Sudan’s Disbanding of Former Regime-Appointed Church Councils
- Morningstar News, Sudan Orders Removal of Church Committees Appointed by Bashir Regime
- The Christian Post, Sudan abolishes Islamist committees formed to confiscate church properties
- Open Doors, World Watch List 2020
- USCIRF, Facebook