Rev. Yat Michael and Rev. Peter Yen Reith of South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church have been charged with espionage and blasphemy. Michael was arrested December 21, 2014, and Reith was arrested on January 11, 2015. The church believes they are being persecuted for their Christian faith. Sudanese authorities are calling for the death penalty for the two pastors. National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) have charged the pastors with undermining the constitutional system, spying, and waging war against the state. They were also charged with inciting organized forces to complain, and assaulting religious beliefs. NISS is run by strict Islamists who are given broad powers to arrest Christians and others who are believed not to be fully Arabic and Islamic.
Sudan is number six in the Open Doors World Watch List of countries where Christians face the most persecution for their faith. Christians make up a tiny majority in Sudan and receive little protection. Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church and other Christian churches have faced an increase in harassment and persecution since South Sudan became an independent country in 2011. Several Catholic and Protestant churches buildings in the Khartoum area have been destroyed or confiscated by authorities since South Sudan became a separate country.
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has promised to make Sudan a fully Islamic state operating under the strictest interpretation of Sharia law.
Rev. Tut Kony of South Sudan reported that almost all pastors have gone to jail, or have been beaten and stoned as a way to pull down the church. We are trusting God. They (the pastors) have spent five months in jail and if it exceeds to a year we still know that God will intervene, and they will be released because they did not commit any crime.
Pastor Yat Michael spoke these words to Moring Star News May 7:
“God will intervene and protect us even in prison despite the serious charges brought against us. Thank you for all your prayers and concerns for us over this long period of imprisonment.
Michael’s wife said, ‘We are still worried about their detention. Let us continue to pray for them so that God can help them be released.’ “
Christians in Sudan and South Sudan have asked others to pray for:
- Peace and protection for the pastors and their families.
- The court proceedings to result in the charges being dropped.
- Wisdom and guidance for church leaders in Sudan in the face of continuing pressures
- All officials involved to act justly, to have love and mercy, and to learn about Jesus and follow Him.
- Please pray for these pastors and families. Michael and his wife have two children, ages one and three. Reith and his wife have a one-year-old. There was a court hearing set for May 14 for their sentencing. No confirmation on the outcome of this hearing to date.
“If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of the glory and of God rests upon you” (1 Peter 4:14).
Does hearing this story make you more thankful for the country we live in and the freedoms we have? What kind of persecution do you believe is happening in America?