Earlier in the year the world’s attention was drawn to Sudan, when a pregnant doctor, Meriam Ibrahim, was sentenced to death for refusing to deny Jesus. She’s now been released and is safe in a new country, but the situation facing Christians in Sudan is becoming increasingly tough. Hundreds of Sudanese Christians no longer have a place to meet: the government has destroyed their church buildings and banned the construction of new ones.
In the latest attack on the Sudanese church, the government closed the Khartoum Central Church building on Monday 25 August, stating that the building was registered as an office instead of a place of worship. “Please pray this case will be solved,” asked our contact. “The KCC leaders and pastors are very worried and desperate for a solution. They still do not know where they will hold services from this coming Friday.”
Two other churches were destroyed earlier this year. On 1 July, government officials destroyed the Sudanese Church of Christ in north Khartoum which had hosted a congregation of 600. With only 24 hours’ notice, 70 government officials arrived to demolish the church, claiming the government wanted the land for low-cost housing.
On 17 February the government destroyed a church building that hosted 300 members. These Christians are forbidden from building new places to meet and worship together, as on 12 July Sudanese Religious Affairs Minister, Shalil Abdullah, reiterated a ban on new church permits, saying that Sudan has enough churches.
This is despite the fact that Sudan has signed up to the UN’s International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which states that everyone shall have the right to freedom of religion, including the right to manifest this religion in public or private, in worship, observance, practice and teaching.
“Please help us pray over this situation,” one Sudanese Christian has asked. “We trust God for a solution. He is able and great.”
We know that the church is about more than buildings, but we also know that having a place to meet with other Christians, receive teaching and worship God is vital for the life of the church. Hebrews 10:25 implores us to not give up meeting together – but our Sudanese brothers and sisters will have to do just that if they have no place to meet. If the people of the church are a family, the place where they meet can be considered a home. Can you imagine having to stand and watch as your home is torn apart, by the government?
The destruction of church buildings may not seem very serious when compared to the death sentence that Meriam Ibrahim faced in Sudan earlier this year. However, while Meriam’s case caused a worldwide outcry, the destruction of churches is easier for the world to ignore, and easier for the Sudanese government to get away with – such a slow and steady squeeze on the church could eventually suffocate it. This makes it all the more important that we speak up for our Sudanese brothers and sisters and let the government in Sudan know that the world is watching.
The destruction of church buildings and the ban on constructing new ones is devastating for those Christians who face entrenched discrimination in Sudan and is a flagrant denial of their right to freedom of religion. They claim that the plans did not meet the construction skills test for the area… We must challenge this discrimination every step of the way. Will you stand alongside Christians in Sudan to overturn the ban on new church permits, so our church family will be able to meet all together again?
We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.