Friday, January 7, 2011

Pray for Sudan amid historic referendum

Pray for peace in Sudan.
Sudan is a country with a long history of violence and conflict, including two civil wars between the largely Islamic North and the Christian and animist majority in the South. Christians, in particular, have endured severe opposition, and they continue to face many challenges to their witness.

In the North, believers are subject to many restrictions. Evangelism is fiercely opposed and thus very limited, and all non-Muslims face intense pressure to convert to Islam. There have also been reports of violent attacks on Christians in other regions in recent years.

In 2005, the government in Khartoum and the Southern Sudan People's Liberation Movement signed a peace agreement. This agreement, which ended the country's second civil war, established semi-autonomy in the South and called for a referendum on independence. The referendum will take place this Sunday.

While many are hopeful that the January 9 referendum will allow the South to separate from the North peacefully, there remains concern over the effect this transition will have on the country. Recent comments made by President Omar al-Bashir, regarding the reinforcement of Islamic law, have raised particular fear for Christians and all non-Muslims in the nation in the aftermath of the vote.

"If south Sudan secedes, we will change the constitution," President al-Bashir has said. "Shariah and Islam will be the main source for the constitution -- Islam the official religion and Arabic the official language."

Pray for a free and democratic vote in this referendum. Pray that international governments will encourage Sudanese leadership to hear and accept the voice of their people. Pray that Christians throughout Sudan will continue to entrust themselves to Christ and preach the gospel boldly, knowing Jesus is the ruler over the kings of the earth (2 Timothy 1:7-12, Revelation 1:5). Pray that many more people will come to know Christ as Lord in Sudan. Pray for true and lasting peace in the country.

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