(Cover photo by Bread For the World. Story photo by Kids Alive International)
Sudan (MNN) ― Sudan is quietly slipping toward becoming an Islamist state. Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has said he wants to adopt a "100 percent" Islamic constitution now that the South has split off.
Christians worry they won't be able to practice their faith--a concern that's been borne out in action by Sudan's recent crackdowns. Matt Parker, Vice President of Operations at Kids Alive International, says, "Although the government itself is saying there is religious freedom, really those are empty words."
Parker goes on to say that Kids Alive partners have shared stories this week about churches that have been destroyed, as well as a corresponding wave of arrests and deportations. "We do know of other Christian organizations in the area (in fact, I spoke to the director of another organization just this week) who have lost some of their key staff and are really concerned about what the future holds." What's more, "I've heard stories this week of offices of Christian organizations being broken into, raided. There are reports of orphanages and schools being closed."
Although officials strongly deny any discrimination against Christians, Parker says, "Christians in Sudan, churches, are very fearful about what the future holds, but there's very little reported in the media about this."
Bashir has been facing pressure from religious hardliners. The Sudan Tribune reports that a group of Islamists recently signed the "Islamic Dawn" charter that would establish Sharia law in Sudan. Further, the charter would ban any parties opposed to the move. The recent round of arrests might be an effort to appease these groups. Parker explains, "We've heard of people being arrested. We've heard of people being deported from the country for sharing about their faith. At the same time, there are Christians in Sudan that are committed to sharing the Good News."
Kids Alive International has a presence in Khartoum. "We have a program working with 30 former street children, providing them with quality care, residential care, based on the compound of a church." The staff, while not directly affected by the closures and arrests, are watching the situation closely, says Parker. "We're very aware that we may have a limited window of opportunity to be there, and we're committed to being there for as long as we can and making the most of this opportunity that we have to be witnesses for Christ."
The Kids Alive ministry is Christ-centered, focused on fulfilling the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of children. For now, they're still operating normally. "Be praying for churches. Be praying for Christian leaders in Khartoum, praying that God will strengthen them and give them wisdom in this situation."
Awareness is a big part of how you can help. Parker says because of the potential for disruption, "pray for our ministry and the 30 boys that we care for. Pray that these boys, each one of them, would grow up to be godly men."