As the conflict in Sudan continues, the danger for God’s people is growing—but there are still signs that Jesus is at work
As the war in Sudan continues into its fourth month, our field partners are telling us that the situation is devastating—and they’re asking us not to forget our Sudanese family in our prayers.
The fighting has claimed at least 3,000 lives
, according to Sudan’s Health Minister Haitham Mohamed Ibrahim, and the U.N. Secretary-General fears Sudan is close to a “full-scale civil war.” The International Organization for Migration (IOM) reports that more than 3.3 million people have been displaced. There is growing concern among international and African humanitarian agencies that there is not enough aid to assist the millions of displaced people—and that what aid is available does not always reach those who need it the most.
Sudan is No. 10 on the 2023 World Watch List, making it an incredibly difficult place to live for followers of Jesus, even in peaceful times. Fikiru*, an Open Doors field partner, tells us that he’s received reports showing that more than 165 churches have closed during the conflict in Sudan, and at least 15 have been destroyed. Churches are also reporting daily human rights violations such as rape, the kidnapping of girls and the looting of property.
“The situation has continued to deteriorate, and the Sudanese people are suffering,” he says. “The war does not look like it will end anytime soon. So far, the cease-fire agreement between the warring parties does not hold long. More concerning to us is that there is no improvement on human rights handling and no willingness to cease hostilities by the two parties.
“We ask that churches around the world do not grow tired or forget to pray for the situation in Sudan.”
“Christians in Sudan are especially vulnerable and on the receiving end,” Fikiru confirms. “We ask that churches around the world do not grow tired or forget to pray for the situation in Sudan. We know there are many terrible things happening around the world, but do not forget about your brothers and sisters in Sudan.”
The conflict is between the Sudanese Armed Forces
(SAF), led by chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and the paramilitary group Rapid Support Forces
(RSF), led by Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, also known as Hemedti. The two sides worked together to overthrow the former Sudanese dictator, Omar Al-Bashir, in 2019. However, a power struggle developed when plans emerged to bring the RSF under the command of the military.
The conflict started in the capital city of Khartoum, but has now spread outside of the city. Independent Catholic News
reports that violence has spilled over to South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, which has impacted large Christian communities that are already vulnerable.
“There are many Christians still present in the war zones today who do not have any means to flee, who are suffering and we cannot reach them,” Fikiru says. “This is very tough for us; they are part of the Body of Christ.”
But there are glimmers of God at work in the midst of the chaos.
Many vulnerable people, such as children, the elderly and people who are disabled and sick are unable to flee. Seven Catholic nuns have welcomed these people into their church home, giving them a safe place to hide, food to eat and what little medicine they have.
Another local field contact who has taken up residence with his family at the nuns’ church shared that one night the children hiding there asked the nuns if they could join them in their prayers.
“It was pitch black as the neighborhood has had no electricity for months,” our field contact shares. “They all came together and prayed for peace to come to Sudan.”
What a beautiful witness of God’s supernatural peace in the middle of a war zone! Jesus has shown His presence and provision.
“[The nuns] provide water from the well, because in many places, wells have run dry since the war started,” he explains. “The nuns also have a generator that they share for an hour every day so that some of us can charge our phones.
“One of the nuns told me that she believes they were sent as missionaries, not just messengers: ‘That’s why we live with the Sudanese whether they are Christian or not, in joyful times and sorrowful times.’”
And it is indeed a sorrowful time for Sudan’s Christians. Open Doors estimates that Sudan has some 2 million Christians. Amidst the ongoing and already complicated conflict, there are reports
that Muslim fundamentalists have joined the fight, further putting Christians at risk.
Fikiru confirms these reports. “Our contacts in the country have indicated that [Islamic extremists] publicly ask citizens to join the Sudanese national army in the fight against RSF,” he says. “Other sources also mention that some of these [militants] or vigilante groups are former members of Al-Bashir’s party and security [apparatus].”
God, we do not have the answers to why your people are suffering so much in Sudan. But we ask you to be with them in their pain and that you show them hope, as only you can do.
Please pray with us for our sisters and brothers in Sudan
- Pray for believers trapped in the capital of Khartoum who don’t have access to basic needs. Ask God to provide for them.
- Pray for safety of our sisters in particular, as reports of abduction and sexual violence are on the rise.
- Praise God for the example of these nuns. Ask God to make their witness shine so brightly that no one can deny His presence in the midst of chaos.
- Pray for those who are traumatized and anxious. May God's Spirit bring healing and peace to their hearts and minds.
- And finally, pray for an end to the conflict.