Sudan Trying to Seize Control of Church
Pastor Says Sudanese Regime Using Courts to Persecute Christians
Sudanese Government Trying to Seize Control of Church
10/30/2017 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – Five church leaders of the Sudanese Church of Christ (SCOC) were arrested on Sunday, October 22 for allegedly disturbing the peace. Reverend Ayoub Matin was arrested alongside evangelist Habail Abraham, Reverend Ali Haakim, Pastor Ambrat Hammad, and elder Abdo Elbaya. Such arrests are becoming increasingly common in Sudan. International Christian Concern (ICC) spoke with one of the many pastors who have been arrested this year to determine the reason for this increase. Pastor Kuwa Shamal, who has been arrested on multiple occasions, but never fully charged, believes that the government is trying to take control of the church by misusing the legal system.
According to Pastor Shamal, “The government is using the court of law to persecute Christians who are peaceful in carrying out their mandate as commissioned in the New Testament. After spending 14 months in a jail in Khartoum, I was released this year in January due to lack of evidence. I was again arrested this Sunday for unfounded reasons. Why is the government coercing us to surrender the leadership of the church to a select committee? What crime have we done?”
Reverend Ayoub Tiliyan, chairman of the SCOC, also told ICC that the persecution of Christians in Sudan has escalated this year. He said, “It is very disturbing to see the government that we obey, pray for, and pay taxes to harass members of the society just because they belong to a different faith. This has become the norm over the years, with threats heightening in the past three years. Several churches have been demolished, pastors arrested, and evangelists warned against preaching the Gospel to Muslims.”
At least four churches in Khartoum have been closed or demolished and dozens of pastors have been arrested at various times so far this year. They also still have plans to demolish more than 20 more churches in an effort to rid the country of Christianity. This latest incident followed the United States’ decision to lift 20-year-old sanctions off of Sudan.
ICC’s Regional Manager for Africa, Nathan Johnson, stated, “We hope to see the government in Sudan earn its freedom from the sanctions by giving freedom back to its citizens. There must be an end to the systemic persecution that has plagued this nation and its Christian civilians. We also look to the United States to start pressuring the regime to end all human rights violations, not just those that helped lift the sanctions.”