Sudan (MNN) — After a two-day meeting, Christian and Muslim leaders in Sudan signed an agreement promoting peace and religious freedom. It’s the first of its kind and a significant step forward.
“If we look [casually] at this agreement, we say, ‘Well, that’s nice, these leaders have agreed on religious freedom.’ But, when you look at it in the context of what has happened in Sudan over the last several months, it is yet another step in the right direction,” Voice of the Martyrs’ Todd Nettleton explains.
Islamic dictator Omar al-Bashir ruled Sudan with an iron fist for 30 years. Coup leaders overthrew Bashir last April, and the Sudanese people have taken impressive strides toward freedom ever since.
Sudan sees significant change
For decades, police used Sudan’s apostasy law to severely persecute Christians. Transitional authorities threw out that law this summer.
“There is an openness now because of that apostasy law being overturned. It is not such a dangerous conversation for a Muslim to be curious about Christianity, to be curious about the person of Jesus Christ,” Nettleton says.
While much of Sudan’s progress is positive, not everyone trusts the transitional government. Some Sudanese church leaders express doubt and skepticism.
“There are people on that sovereign council that were the ‘right-hand men’ for Omar al Bashir. So there is certainly reason for caution, but think about some of the very concrete changes that have been made this year,” Nettleton says.
“To have laws that apply equally to people of all faiths – those are very real and very dramatic changes.”
Last month, Nettleton interviewed VOM’s Africa Regional Director for Voice of the Martyrs Radio. “As we looked around the continent of Africa, there’s a lot of places where things are going in the wrong direction as far as religious freedom [and] the persecution of our Christian brothers and sisters,” he says.
“Sudan was the one nation he pointed to and said, ‘this is a country where things seem to be going in the right direction.’”
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“We don’t know what’s going to happen in two years. But right now, we have an open window for the Gospel. The government is looking at all these other things; they’re not looking at the Church,” Nettleton notes.
Ask the Lord to protect Sudanese believers working hard to make His name known.
“While this window is open, we’re going to go 100 miles an hour; we’re going to do everything we can to share the Gospel, to grow the Church, to strengthen the Church.”
By clicking here, you can tangibly support the Sudanese Church through Voice of the Martyrs USA.
“Voice of the Martyrs provides tools and training for Christian leaders to help them grow their capacity, and to help them be effective during this time of an open window,” Nettleton says.
Header photo credit: Hind Mekki/Flickr/CC2.0