News about Meriam Ibrahim, the Sudanese woman sentenced to death for apostasy and recently released, dominated headlines this year. However the story of Meriam reveals more than what is happening within Sudan. Facts testify that worldwide religious oppression continues to mount.
Nearly 5.1 billion people, or 74 percent of the global population, live in countries that repress religious freedom. This figure is up from 68 percent in 2007. In total, 56 countries are listed having severe religious oppression. In 119 countries religious oppression has worsened.
Many Christian Believers have died for their faith or have suffered great persecution in Sudan’s move toward what President Omar al-Bashir calls a “purely Islamic” country. Conversion remains illegal, demanding the death penalty.
However, escaping the headlines, support drummed up within Sudan itself moved legislative mountains for tougher and fairer religious freedom laws.
Tina Ramirez, Founder and Executive Director of Hardwired writes,“When Meriam was sentenced, several young Sudanese trained by Hardwired sprang into action – mobilizing a protest at her trial, coordinating press conferences and public briefings, getting opposition leaders to make public statements, assisting her family and international supporters, and providing her legal team critical advice.”
This year has seen an increase in church destruction, property seizure, and Christian persecution. In October, two churches were bombed in the mostly-Christian Nuba Mountain region, one by Sudan’s National Air Force.
Yet a swell of Believers within the nation continues to grow. Trained pastors there can handle only a portion of the new converts! “Increasing numbers of Muslims are turning to Jesus, in some cases, even entire villages,” says Operation World. “They are often disillusioned by Islam and attracted to Jesus. The openness among many is remarkable, and believers from Muslim backgrounds number in the tens of thousands.”
PRAY that Sudan’s persecuted Believers who have been forced from their churches will grow in numbers and in love (The Bible, 2 Thessalonians 1:3).
PRAY that Meriam Ibrahim’s international platform will turn attention to the plight of the oppressed (The Bible, Isaiah 1:17).
PRAY that Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir will be overcome with mercy for his country’s Christian Believers (The Bible, Esther 4:7-8).