Sudan (MNN) — This Easter Sunday, the Sudanese government is kicking out as many as 700,000 people, many of whom are Christians.
Since South Sudan seceded from Sudan in July 2011, there has been debate over what nation each person should call home. Some reports suggested that an agreement had been reached allowing citizens in either country to live, work, and own property on either side of the new international border.
But that was a month ago. Now, the Khartoum government has made the decision to remove all people of South Sudanese origin currently living in the north.
"This affects not just people who have lived in South Sudan in the past, but those who have parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents from the south," explains Matt Parker with Kids Alive International.
Although many included in the eviction notice have never even been to South Sudan, droves have fled already. Most southerners are Christians and are fearful of what might happen to them if they stay.
"Church leaders fear persecution if they stay in the north. It's a very difficult, very unpredictable situation," explains Parker. "So a lot churches are really moving their ministries from Khartoum down to the south."
Christians may have reason to fear. Parker says there has been a lot of talk about Sudan becoming "more Islamic." The mostly-Muslim north has a long history of persecution against believers.
Though fear abounds, many questions remain unanswered as to the Sunday deadline. Parker says, "The deadline itself–8th of April–really is unrealistic. It's a logistical nightmare in many ways. We're talking about between 500,000 and 700,000 people."
Another question remains unanswered for Kids Alive. Based on the number of Christians being asked to leave the nation, how will the government respond to ministries still in the area? Kids Alive has already had to reduce programming in Sudan.
Still, says Parker, "We plan to be there for as long as we're able to be there. There are lots of kids that still need help. There are thousands that live on the streets or are in need."
Some of the Kids Alive kids in the north have already fled with their families to South Sudan. Thankfully, Kids Alive does have a number of soon expanding programs in South Sudan as well.
The most powerful solution now is intercession through prayer. Pray particularly for safety for the believers who are fleeing the nation and who are being asked to leave. There have even been rumors of a return to war between Sudan and South Sudan.
"It's very difficult to predict how the government will act and how they will respond to any southerners who are still in Khartoum after the 8th of April," says Parker.
Pray for safety for the workers and programs of Kids Alive, and pray that this might be an opportunity for them to trust in the Lord and to spread His name.