Sudan (MNN) — Christian Solidarity Worldwide has called for the release of the two Sudanese pastors, the Czech aid worker, and their companion, who were arrested in December 2015 and have been in detention since May 2016.
They were charged with seven crimes including espionage and waging war against the state. The men could be facing the death penalty on apostasy charges, which is stunning while the government says the Interim National Constitution (INC) provides for freedom of religion throughout Sudan.
At the same time, Middle East Concern says three more churches are scheduled for demolition in different parts of the Sudanese capital Khartoum. At the beginning of the month, a legal team was fighting to overturn the order, but there’s been no update on that case.
These are cases that reveal a type of politically-driven spiritual ‘climate’ in Sudan, but what’s it like on the day-to-day level? We asked one believer about the situation for Sudanese believers. However, today, he works with a Sudanese Christian Fellowship in the US. Reverend Kuku, like many other Sudanese believers in exile, has been following the pastors’ case closely.
His personal journey took him from Sudan to Egypt. Although ordained in Sudan, because of his Gospel work, a well-known Muslim publication accused him of proselytizing Muslims into the Christian faith. What actually happened, he says, was that “some started on their own after comparing Christianity with their faith, and they were convinced that the Way was Jesus — He was the Way that takes them to eternal life, so they decided to follow Jesus.”
That’s not how it was portrayed in the media. In fact, he was number one on a list of people the paper termed as “ringleaders”. While it wasn’t a fatwa (a term indicating that a death sentence has been pronounced on someone or some group), he says, “I think that was a green light for any militant person to attack me.”
Reverend Kuku went to Egypt and started working with a local church. Once more, the survivors of Darfur and the Nuba fighting found him. “They came to my office as refugees, seeking other benefits, and hearing that there’s a pastor there who’s a good man — they asked me the reason why I’m so kind and why I’m so good to them.”
His compassion spoke volumes, and in many instances, it prompted frank discussions about hope, faith and God. They asked a lot of thoughtful questions. “They want to know more about my religion. I told them about Christianity and the hope — why Christ came in that unique way. When they compared, they found it really was the way to eternal life.”
Then militant Muslims found him in Egypt too, and threatened him. The continued threats eventually proved disruptive to his work, and friends in the church network advised him to seek asylum in the United States. His arrival stateside was met with huge enthusiasm from Sudanese refugees in Oklahoma City. His celebrity, he quickly explains, was not due to anything he’d done in Africa, but rather, “It is just because I’m an elderly person. The Sudanese respect elderly pastors.”
He has survived to tell not only his story, but also the stories of other believers, of the Church under fire. In Sudan, there are few voices to advocate for them. “There are some who embrace the faith, but they are not making it public. The Church is growing. There will come a day when those people who are living in secret will come up publicly in Sudan, will again be for Jesus. This is what I believe.”
There is one thing in common with the exiled Sudanese Body of Christ, no matter where you find them. “We believe that the Holy Spirit is in control — is working. We believe, as Christians, that Christianity is based on suffering…so, the Church is flourishing in Sudan.”
As divisive as persecution becomes, he asks, “Pray that peace would come in Sudan and that there will be tolerance in Sudan. Muslims and Christians were living in wonderful harmony. I want that age to come back.” Pray too, that Christians throughout Sudan will continue to entrust themselves to Christ and preach the Gospel boldly, knowing Jesus is the ruler over the kings of the earth.