There are almost 2 million Christians in Sudan, from a population of 43.5 million people. That’s approximately 4.5 per cent.
Though Sudan has taken significant steps towards religious freedom recently, including a commitment to end 30 years of Islamic law, Christians from a Muslim background still face extreme persecution from their families and communities. These believers no longer face the death penalty for leaving Islam, but may be attacked, ostracised or otherwise discriminated against if their faith is discovered. Church buildings are often attacked or even demolished, and Coptic and evangelical churches continue to face difficulty in getting permission to build places of worship.
Many converts still keep their faith secret, for the safety of them and their family. This includes Christian women and girls being forced to dress like Muslims, to avoid being harassed for ‘indecent dressing’. Some converts even choose not to raise their children as Christians, wary of retribution from community leaders. This fear of exposure even means some Christians from a Muslim background have Islamic funerals in Muslim cemeteries.
“The suffering of the brothers and sister here, and especially Christians from a Muslim background, is very tough.”A Sudanese pastor
Sudan’s economy was already unstable before Covid-19 hit. Now, Christians from a Muslim background are particularly vulnerable – most don’t have access to essential support from their family and community.
“People are suffering a lot and the economy is down,” says a pastor, who must be kept anonymous for security reasons. “Prices of everything are going up and people are just struggling to survive. I am here on the ground and see how converts are suffering every day and every hour to find food and even a place to stay. Many have been unable to pay rent and are forced to find other accommodation.”
Sudan has made great progress towards religious equality this year, but it will take much longer to change the stigma and opposition faced in everyday life by Christians who have left the faith of their families and ancestors.
Please keep praying for your brothers and sisters in Sudan. Your gifts and prayers make an enormous difference to those following Jesus no matter the cost.
Open Doors partners with the local church in Sudan to provide theological and discipleship training, persecution survival training, trauma care, and community development and income-generating projects.
Since President Omar al-Bashir was ousted in April 2019, there has been uncertainty about the leadership of Sudan and how it would impact Christians. Thankfully, and in an amazing answer to prayer, there do seem to be significant steps towards freedom of religion. Islamic law will end after 30 years, and Christians from a Muslim background no longer face the death penalty.
While persecution continues in Sudan, and attitudes are not eradicated overnight, this is very promising and the reason that Sudan has fallen six places on the World Watch List this year.
Lord God, thank You so much for answering decades of prayer from Sudanese Christians and those who support them. We pray that the change in the law would make a meaningful difference to the lives of our brothers and sisters in Sudan, and that the culture of the country would change with them. Let Sudanese believers live lives openly devoted to you, shining the light of Christ in a country that has spent so many years in darkness. Amen.
Your support helps persecuted Christians continue to courageously follow Jesus.
Together, we can reach those where persecution hits hardest.