Sudan (MNN) — Leaders of Sudan’s interim government say they’ll need $5 billion in financial aid to avoid economic collapse and launch reforms. Sudan’s designation by the U.S. as a state sponsor of terrorism makes it “ineligible for debt relief and financing from the IMF and World Bank,” Reuters reports.
Political instability, economic crisis, natural disasters, and food shortages make Sudan’s situation dire. According to the EU, some eight million Sudanese need immediate humanitarian assistance.
It’s hard to think long-term when you’re trying to survive from day to day. However, Middle East Concern’s Daniel Hoffman says long-term planning is exactly what Sudan’s Church needs right now.
Believers have relative freedom under the interim government, but “the danger is when the ruler changes, or even when the ruler stays the same but he no longer derives any benefit from giving this to the Church, then he will cease to do so,” Hoffman explains.
“Then, all your benefits will vanish and you have nowhere to go.”
Why legal changes are important for Sudan’s Church
Ousted president Omar al-Bashir ruled Sudan with an iron fist for 30 years. “Under his charge, the country has been ruled as an Islamic state with limited rights for religious minorities,” Open Doors USA says on its World Watch List.
Middle East Concern walks alongside persecuted Christians in Sudan, and describes their situation here:
“Sudanese Christians face intense pressures. Recognized Christian communities have increasingly been marginalized and their freedom to worship obstructed, including over recent years through forced closure of Christian-owned institutions, the expulsion of expatriate Christian workers, the prosecution and the imprisonment of some church leaders on spurious charges and an ongoing campaign of confiscation or destruction of church property.”
Bashir’s removal earlier this year led to a “new era” in Sudan – that’s what makes this transition period such a critical time.
“You need to, as a country, build up a system where the rule of law governs what happens in the state and not just the whims of the autocratic ruler,” Hoffman suggests.
“That is something that the Church can contribute to by raising awareness of the concepts of human rights and the rule of law.”
Laws need to focus on more than religious freedom alone because “Sudanese Christians are not only Christian, they’re also Sudanese,” Hoffman says. “They may desire some of the same freedoms that other Sudanese have but secondly, as a Christian community, they have a biblical mandate to seek the good of the wider society – especially the more vulnerable groups in society.”
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“One important thing is that…they (Sudanese) will become more aware of the idea of a society based on the rule of law and human rights,” Hoffman says. “And, that they will catch this vision of not just seeking their own benefit, but the greater good of their fellow Sudanese as well.”
Header image courtesy of Open Doors USA.