On Friday, 12 January 2024, around noon, the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in the city of Wad Madani in Sudan was intentionally set ablaze, causing significant damage and distress to the community. Reverend Youssif Matar from the church told local reporters, “We were informed that parties deliberately burned the church in the middle of Wad Madani, causing severe damage.”
This is the second arson attack on the church in a short time. The church was also set on fire on 27 December following the church’s Christmas services. These two incidents have left the church badly damaged, destroying the main prayer hall, the office, and the church library, which housed a certificate of the land’s ownership and documents, evidence of the church’s history of more than a century.
The church is estimated to have around 1,500 members, many of whom joined the church after fleeing the instability of the capital, Khartoum, due to the ongoing conflict.
A Devastating Impact on a Vulnerable Community
A statement by the Presbyterian Synod of Sudan reads, “We, the Presbyterian Evangelical Synod of Sudan, condemn this crime targeting Christians and denounce the burning and desecration of places of worship. We express our deep rejection and concern about the repeated incidents of contempt for Christianity in Sudan and the spread of the phenomenon of hate speech in many platforms and situations, which portends severe and impactful repercussions on security, the stability of Sudanese societies, the enjoyment of human rights, and freedom of religion and beliefs.”
Rev. Matar expressed concern that “Islamic extremists or extremists within the Rapid Support Forces may be behind the incident.”
“These incidents create additional tension for the Christians in this area and bring back painful memories of the persecution they have faced for 30 years under former President Omar Al-Bashir. The continuing violence has increased the forced displacement of Christians and caused their isolation in remote areas controlled by those who are known for their violent targeting of Christians,” commented the team leader for Open Doors’ work in this region.
Sudan is #8 on Open Doors’ 2024 World Watch List. Open Doors’ vision for Sudan is to see a resilient church that stands strong in the face of persecution and is economically empowered to support themselves through facilitating livelihood training and microloans, as well as persecution preparedness programs and enhancing discipleship.
Pray for Sudan:
- Pray for local church leadership in Wad Madani as they support those who are traumatised and grieving.
- Pray for God’s wisdom and provision as they seek a new place to gather and serve the church.
- Pray for God’s protection over Christians in Wad Madani, that fear will not overcome them.
Stay updated with the latest prayer requests from the persecuted church.