By Sara Solomon
10/12/2016 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – Sudan is no place for weak men. Known for its staunch oppression to the Christian faith, Sudan continues to rank eighth on the persecution watchdog group, Open Doors’, World Watch List of countries where persecution is the most intense. Believers in this African nation are regularly arrested without cause and held illegally while the government concocts charges with which to accuse the faithful.
Four Christians in particular, Rev. Kuwa Shamal, Rev. Hassan Abduraheem, Mr. Abdulmonem Issaa Abdumawla and a Czech citizen named Petr Jasek, have been behind bars for 10 months. 45 of those days were without charge. The three Sudanese men are all pastors, while Petr Jasek is an aid worker affiliated with the humanitarian group Voice of the Martyrs (VOM). The group was arrested and charged with spying on the government of Sudan, a vague accusation often used against Christian leaders in the nation.
According to the government of Sudan, Petr Jasek is a filmmaker conspiring with the pastors against the Islamic state. However, according to VOM, he works to deliver aid to displaced and suffering Christians in Sudan, Nigeria, and other African nations. He is uniquely qualified to serve suffering people and communities through the provision of medical care.
The four were arrested in December 2015 by the National Intelligence Service of Sudan and accused of espionage and for showing compassion to rebels in Sudan’s South Kordofan region, Darfur. Their next hearing is set for October 17.
Lawyer and human rights defender, Mohaned Elnour Mustaf, told International Christian Concern (ICC) that he is “utterly shocked by the fact that the court has not released the Christians.”
Mr. Mustaf is among the five lawyers who defended Meriam Ibrahim in 2014 and Pastors Peter Yein Reith and Yat Michael Ruot in 2015.
“Their defense would be no case to answer. They need a fair hearing,” he said, “They have not committed any crime against the state and they deserve to be free.”
Mr. Mustaf also explained that, according to Sharia Law, it is not illegal to preach other faiths in an Islam-dominated state.
Pastor Samuel Akol, an evangelical pastor in neighboring South Sudan, told ICC, “It is immoral for the government of Sudan to continue detaining the pastors just because they are Christians and they helped a sick person in Darfur get aid from a white man,” he continued, “The Church is a body and when one part of the body is in pain, the whole body is in pain.”
This is not the first time that Christian pastors in Sudan have been arrested for espionage. Many recall in 2015 when Pastors Peter Yein Reith and Yat Michael Ruot faced the death penalty for similar charges.
When asked about the current condition of the four, Pastor Peter said, “It is very sad that the pastors have been in prison for close to a year. I know what they are going through because I was once in chains for the Gospel,” he continued, “but God’s word cannot be chained. It is close to impossibility for the four brothers to be released because the government of Sudan is a funny one. They detain innocent people. We know the pastors at a personal level and although we are free now, we feel that we are in prison together.”
That, too, is the attitude we must have. Pray for these four as they face the giant, Sudan. Pray for Mr. Mustaf, a Muslim, as he defends the religious rights of Rev. Shamal, Rev. Abduraheem, Mr. Abdumawla and Petr Jasek. These are great men with great faith; as members of the body of Christ, it is our responsibility to intercede on their behalf. While these four face impossible odds, take comfort because we serve the God of the impossible.