Sudan is No. 5 on the Open Doors list of countries most oppressive to Christians. Sudan lost 26% of its area and 25% of its population when South Sudan became an independent country in July 2011. The major religion is Islam with only about 4.5% of the country being Christian.
Christianity reached the area of present-day northern Sudan, then called Nubia, by about the end of the first century after Christ. During the Middle Ages, Nubia was a stronghold of Christianity.
On May 16, 1983, Sudan’s Anglican and Roman Catholic clergy, under threat of Sharia law, signed a declaration that they would not abandon God as God had revealed Himself to them. Anti-Christian persecutions grew, particularly after 1985, including murders of pastors and church leaders, destruction of Christian villages, churches, hospitals, schools, and mission bases, and bombing of Sunday church services.
The Criminal Act of 1991 is based on Sharia rulings, which means that certain behaviors that do not abide by Islamic principles are criminalized in law. Apostasy, blasphemy and conversion from Islam to another religion are all considered criminal offenses. Any Muslim (or Christian) who questions the validity of Islam or the holiness of the Prophet can be considered guilty of apostasy. Such acts may be punishable by death in some circumstances.
Christians in Sudan are isolated from the larger Christian world and need to feel the support of their brothers and sisters in the faith. The least we can do (and maybe the most) is pray for them. We can pray that they find the faith and courage to continue on while living under oppression and that their faithfulness will be a witness to those around them.
Let’s pray that they find physical protection and also protection from their spiritual enemies. Here is my own cry to God: “Father in heaven, you see these people, and you loved them and died for them, so that they may spend eternity with you. I pray that your light will shine into Sudan and dispel lies and darkness. I pray that hearts will see you and understand your call to their hearts and say Yes, whatever the cost. Father, our faith is working with you today to see a mighty harvest from this land and this people that you created. I also pray that you will raise up harvesters to go to this mission field, and that they will be helped by your Holy Spirit to convey the truth of your written Word. I pray this in your Name, Amen.” ■
—Gerry is a long-time staff member at Fairwood Bible Institute and Chapel. Sources: Open Doors, Wikipedia, Cultural Atlas.