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Sudan: UPDATE - Refugee churches forced to close
08 March 2016
Sudanese authorities have closed the meeting places of churches catering for refugee communities in the capital, Khartoum. These closures follow a Ministry of Internal Affairs order, issued at the beginning of February, which forced the congregations to register by 15 February.
"On Friday, refugee churches that used to meet at the Presbyterian Church compounds in Jerief and Suq Arabi areas learned that their meeting places have been closed-off and sealed with new locks," a source - who remains anonymous for security reasons - told us. "The Presbyterian Church in Gerief was also closed for services to Sudanese Christians. At least six churches were unable to conduct their main services on either Friday or Sunday."
Concerns for registered churches
For the refugee churches in Khartoum that have submitted their applications, they now have to provide additional information that includes:
- The name and address of the senior pastor
- Legal documents (passport/residence permit) for church leaders
- Contact details of all church leaders (telephone, email, post boxes)
- Name and address details of church governing bodies/elders
- Total number of members and their names
- Exact place of meeting
Pastors have expressed concern over this move, saying that they fear the government will gain information about their operations, and yet still deny them registration - a method used by the government in neighbouring Eritrea, where persecution against Christians is extremely high.
Churches affected by this move include those ministering to refugees from Eritrea, Ethiopia, South Sudan and the Philippines, among others.
The Sudanese government has been exerting increasing pressure against Christians in Sudan. Currently, two Christian pastors who were arrested in December 2015 are being held incommunicado, with no formal charges or access to legal support. There is mounting concern for the wellbeing of the two.
Please join us in praying for this very worrying development.
- For the Lord's miraculous intervention in this situation and that the Church will find a way to continue ministering to believers, despite the efforts by the government to thwart their work
- That the Lord would grant courage to all church leaders and Christians affected by the church closures
- That these circumstances would work to unite the Church in Sudan instead of drive them apart.
- That the Lord would give believers the wisdom to respond to these difficulties in a way that glorifies his Name and brings his people into a closer relationship with him.
Refugee churches may be forced to close
15 February 2016
Representatives from Sudan's Ministry of Internal Affairs have convened leaders of refugee churches in Khartoum to tell them to stop their services until they have registered.
The churches affected are those started for refugees from Eritrea, Ethiopia, South Sudan and the Philippines, among others.
If they have not registered by 15 February, they may be closed.
One refugee pastor said: "We don't know what to do. Leaders from the refugee churches are discussing what the next move should be ...We have asked the Sudanese churches who share their compounds with us for church services to [advise us].
"We know that currently the Sudanese churches leaders are [under a lot of pressure] after the arrest of some of their senior leaders."
Some of the pastors fear that once they apply for registration, the government will have a lot of information about the churches but at the same time fail to grant permission to continue, as happened in neighbouring Eritrea.
The sources explained that this may be another indication that the government of Sudan is busy with a wider crackdown against Christians in the country.
"We are praying and asking God to help us in this situation," one church leader told an Open Doors contact.
Source: World Watch Monitor
- For wisdom in knowing whether to register
- For courage in the face of these difficulties
- For unity among the Christian community.
More News from Sudan:
- UPDATE - Pastors accused of supporting rebels
- Church leaders arrested, churches closed
- UPDATE - Pastors' hearing adjourned until October
- Prosecutor demands 'harshest punishment' for pastors
- UPDATE - Pastors' hearing begins
Find out more about persecution in Sudan.