Rise of persecution in Sudan

Sudan (MNN) – In the last few years, there’s been an uptick of Christian persecution in Sudan and it remains strong even in 2018.

“The situation has been difficult for many, many years of course, but the current process of pressure on the Church started shortly after the secession of now Southern Sudan from what is now northern Sudan. Already as part of that process, the government in northern Sudan had said if the south will secede, we will strongly Islamize the legislation and the practices of the government in the north. And since then, there indeed have been a number of pressures on the churches,” says Middle East Concern’s Daniel Hoffman.

Court Cases against Churches in Sudan

Many court cases have been held against pastors, believers, and churches in Sudan.

The number of churches being taken to court is spiking drastically. A major reason for this is because the government wants to destroy their buildings and take their land. Hoffman says the government is illegally appointing fraudulent people to church committees to sell off properties to businessmen aligned with the government.

If Christians protest about the sales made or refuse to give the land that has been fraudulently sold, violence can arise from the State.

“[It] can be police violence, sometimes there are armed gangs that show up and harass and beat up Christians,” Hoffman says.

Several church buildings have already been demolished.

(Photo by Wellington Rodrigues on Unsplash)

Hoffman says there are ongoing court cases right now involving around 60 people from different churches, at different stages in the court hearings. Most likely, the courts will rule against them.

“It is quite rare that the court will rule in favor of them, and even when they do, usually the government will just ignore those rulings,” Hoffman says.

In 2016, the Sudanese government told three churches they would be demolished. The churches went to court in an attempt to block their demolition. The court told the government they needed to produce an order that showed the demolitions would be legal. When the government produced the order, there weren’t just three churches on the list, but 25 churches they intended to demolish.

“A few months later, they added two more churches to that list. Then those two new churches were demolished in 2017 in May,” Hoffman says.

“Then, under international pressure, the government promised to suspend the demolition of the other churches. But then suddenly [several] weeks ago, one church on the original list of 25 churches was demolished.”

Hoffman says confiscating church properties has risen since 2016 and has continued in 2017 and 2018 as well.

“They definitely try to weaken the Church both economically, but also trying to make them retreat inside themselves, focus more on the pressures and the problems that they have then on being a blessing to the world around them and to the wider society.”

Hoffman further says the government may be increasing pressures because some churches may have been built on land that was in the outskirts years ago. Now, however, as cities have built around the buildings, the land is considered very valuable.

Hoffman encourages you to pray for believers as they face persecution and pressures that continue to build against them.

“First and foremost, their primary resource and support is God Himself, so they would be greatly encouraged by the prayers of the worldwide Body of Christ, including in the United States,” Hoffman says.

Sanctions Lifted from Sudan

“Secondly, it’s to try and make sure that their situation is not forgotten.”

Hoffman shares that the U.S. government should raise the believers’ situation as part of their negotiations with the Sudanese government, as the nation petitions the U.S. to remove their name from the list of countries supporting terrorism.

While the negotiations are taking place, the U.S. government has recently begun lifting economic, trade, and financial sanctions on Sudan.

(Photo by Hanna Morris on Unsplash)

Hoffman says church leaders have different opinions on the lifting of the sanctions.

“Some said sanctions should not have been lifted, others say it’s good that some of the sanctions have been [lifted], and the [U.S.] government should convey to the Sudanese that in order for more sanctions to be lifted, more progress has to be made on a number of different issues, including the [human] rights situation in Sudan, including the pressures on the Church,” Hoffman says.

Stand with Sudanese Believers

Middle East Concern encourages you to stand firm with Sudanese believers. Support them in prayer and remember the pressures they face. Pray the government will abstain from persecuting them, taking their land, and destroying their church buildings.

You can also speak up for persecuted believers by contacting your congressmen.

“It is important for the church leaders to know that there are people around the world who are praying for them, who are thinking of them, aware of their situation, are in a sense suffering with them, and are doing what they can to support them.”