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2021 WORLD WATCH LIST #13

SUDAN

 

 

Country rank

13

Persecution score

78.91

Last year’s rank

7

Region

Africa

Persecution Type

Islamic oppression (Very strong), Dictatorial paranoia (Strong), Ethno-religious hostility (Strong), Organized corruption and crime (Strong)

Persecution Level

Very High

Population

43,541,000

Christians

1,970,000 (4.5%) Data source: Johnson T M and Zurlo G A, eds., World Christian Database (Leiden/Boston: Brill, accessed February 2020).

Main Religion

Islam

Government

Presidential Republic

Leader

Lieutenant-General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan

 In cooperation with local churches and partners, Open Doors supports the persecuted church in Sudan through:

• Discipleship training
• Trauma counseling
• Theological training
• Community development projects
• Christian literature distribution

 

ABOUT SUDAN

What does persecution look like in Sudan?

Although Sudan has taken significant steps towards religious freedom in the past year, 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, ostracized or otherwise discriminated against if their faith is discovered. Church buildings are often attacked or even demolished.

Many still keep their faith secret, for the safety of them and their family. 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. 

How women experience persecution

Christian women and girls are often forced to dress like Muslims, to avoid being harassed for “indecent dressing.” Young girls are vulnerable to forced marriage, and Christian girls are also vulnerable to rape and domestic violence, particularly if they convert from a Muslim background. There is little legal justice for victims of sexual abuse, and some women who have filed claims have faced accusations of false testimonies.  

How men experience persecution

Christian men and boys are vulnerable to physical attacks and murder. If they are killed or incapacitated, the family loses both their breadwinner and (particularly in remote parts of Sudan) their security. 

What has changed this year?

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. 

Who is most vulnerable to persecution?

In areas like the Nuba Mountains, there is an ongoing conflict and tension between government forces and rebel groups. Since 2011, thousands of Christians have been killed in these attacks, which many believe to be effectively ethnic cleansing of minority ethnic groups, particularly Christians. Elsewhere in the country, Christians from a Muslim background are most vulnerable. 

How can I help Christians in Sudan?

What does Open Doors do to help Christians in Sudan?

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. 

Pray

– Praise God for the steps towards religious freedom in Sudan, answering the prayers of Sudanese believers and many others over a long period of time. Ask God that those in power would continue to make strides in this direction, and it would have real difference in everyday lives.

– Pray for protection for Sudanese Christians from a Muslim background, and ask that they would be able to withstand opposition from their families and communities.

– Pray that Christian women in Sudan would be protected from sexual violence and that they would be able to show the love of Jesus to their communities.

A PRAYER FOR SUDAN

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. 

Your gift today will show our persecuted brothers and sisters in Sudan, and other countries in the World Watch List they are loved and remembered by you.