Egypt/Sudan (MNN) — The fallout from the Revolution in Egypt has been hitting its refugee communities.
While Syrians are usually said to make up Egypt’s largest refugee population, this number is dwarfed by Sudanese nationals, who constitute up to two million people in Egypt, several thousand of whom are refugees, and many of whom are essentially stranded.
What’s more, as bilateral relations warm up between Sudan and Egypt, there are growing concerns about Sudanese refugees facing intimidation and threats by Sudanese intelligence services in Cairo. Sudanese in Egypt would no longer enjoy near citizenship status. Many lack international assistance and regularly face jail time. Security agents act with near impunity as they watch for troublemakers and political opponents who are suspected of collaborating with the “enemy”.
In Egypt, Christians are treated like second class citizens. Jobs are hard to come by and sustain. That’s doubly true for refugees who fled the genocide of Darfur or the Nuba Mountain assaults. Young Sudanese who’ve had their education disrupted found some grace, and many entered Egyptian universities.
However, they still struggled to find a place. That’s where a man we’ll call ‘Barnabas’ comes into the story. First, he says, “[SIC] The ministry I’m working is among the Christian Sudanese students in Cairo.” Barnabas is a Sudanese national, too. Following the secession of South Sudan in July 2011, Sudan began expelling foreign Christians and bulldozing church buildings. The purge didn’t spare Barnabas’ work.
“Security closed the ministry and took all the documents of the ministry and they banned us. They told us we were no longer going to access this ministry in Sudan. I fled to Egypt and started the ministry here in Egypt.”
Barnabas continues to work with a Christian fellowship of university students in Egypt. “[SIC] We started with a Bible study, with training leadership.” In spite of the changing atmosphere in some parts of Egypt toward Sudanese refugees, he continues to do leadership and discipleship training.
It’s a glimpse of the future, he adds. “Our vision is to create opportunity for the refugee students, as potential leaders. They will lead their community and the Church. We are preparing them for this in the future. Our vision is a need because there are a lot of Sudanese students here in Cairo.”
The challenges are myriad. Sudanese refugees who survived genocide or an ongoing war are now faced with living in a culture that is increasingly antagonistic.
Barnabas says, “Egypt is very strange to them. They’re facing difficulties with Egyptians ranting in the streets. People don’t respect them, even in their colleges, so they’re facing a lot of challenges. Pray for them that God will bring peace to the countries.”
Pray for Barnabas and his team as they disciple and mentor the Next Generation of Sudanese believers in Egypt. Pray for wisdom as they work in changing circumstances, for boldness to proclaim their faith, and for God to work in hearts so they are open to the hope of Christ.
While we’re encouraged to pray for Egypt, Open Doors offers these prayer needs for Sudan:
*Pray for marginalized and persecuted Christians to forgive, love and pray for their persecutors.
*Pray for Sudan’s leaders, that their hearts would be radically changed by the Gospel.
*Pray for Christians who could face the death penalty if their conversion from Islam is discovered.