Pastor Michael Yat (pictured) and Pastor Peter Yen Reith are currently being held in prison in Khartoum, Sudan. Both men belong to the South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church.
Pastor Michael was arrested after preaching on 21 December 2014. He and his wife brought their child to Khartoum for medical attention and he was asked to preach at the Evangelical Church of Khartoum in Bahri, which had been partly destroyed by the Sudanese authorities earlier that month. During his sermon he spoke out against the treatment of Christians in Sudan. After the sermon, security agents arrested him.
Pastor Yen was arrested two weeks later, after he delivered a letter to the Religious Affairs Office in Khartoum asking about Michael’s arrest. He, too, had voiced concern about the situation facing Christians in Sudan.
Both pastors were held incommunicado until the beginning of March. On 4 May they were charged with a series of crimes against the state, two of which carry the death penalty.
Mary Simon is the wife of imprisoned Reverend Michael Yat. She spoke with Open Doors over the phone and told us of her last visit to her husband.
“I was able to visit him last Wednesday [3 June], but he was moved to another place in the prison soon after a foreigner visited and took his picture. Now, no one is allowed to see him anymore.”
“‘What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?’ It is giving me hope to hold on.”
Despite his ordeal, he is in good physical health. “Physically, he looked fine and his spiritual life is also strong.”
The couple have a son (3) and a daughter (2) who are staying with their grandparents. “My children are doing well,” said Mary. “They are young but they know that their father is being held by police. They miss and keep asking for him.”
She also reported that Pastor Peter’s wife is ‘strong and giving thanks to God even though the situation is difficult’.
Even in these hard circumstances she is able to see God’s hand at work.
“I thank God for what is happening to my husband and only pray that God may be glorified even in this temptation. Romans 8:31 says: ‘What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?’ It is giving me hope to hold on.
“Please ask the brethren to pray with me for my husband to be released and we again be united as a family. My heartfelt desire is to be together with my husband and children again. Pray also for the children as I am also away from them.”
Sudan ranks sixth in the 2015 World Watch List. Although on paper Sudan guarantees freedom of expression and freedom of religion, Christians face strict laws imposed by the Islamic government and apostasy is still legally punishable by death. Despite this, the church in Sudan is growing, according to Open Doors research. The African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies claims that the charges are based solely on their religious convictions and criticism of the ruling party. It suggests that the trial is intended to send a message to other Christian leaders in Sudan to refrain from criticising government policies.
“When they interviewed me, they asked me why I’m preaching here,” Pastor Michael told a reporter. “I say, ‘I am preaching because this is my call. I am a pastor. I must speak the Word of God.'”
If you would like to speak up on behalf of Pastor Michael and Pastor Yen, then please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will provide you with more information.
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