Breakthrough March 2017
Breakthrough is a monthly call to pray for the Arab world. In each edition we focus on a different country of the region, praying for ‘breakthrough’ over a particular stronghold.
Did you have pancakes last night? Today is Ash Wednesday, which for many Christians marks the beginning of a period of fasting as we reflect on Jesus’ 40 days of temptation in the desert (see Matthew 4). Not all of us will give up something for Lent, but it is a special time in which we look forward to our celebration of the most important date in the Christian calendar: Christ’s death and resurrection.
The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” (Matthew 4:3)
Before we begin praying for the nation and people of Sudan, let’s take time to think about the period when Jesus was tempted. The Devil tried to corrupt Jesus by using Scripture, but he resisted. As you will read below, we are praying for a nation that is tightly held by the stronghold of corruption. May God open the eyes of the Sudanese and give them the strength to break free from its grip.
Country focus: Sudan
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)
The Republic of Sudan is a North African country, lying to the south of Egypt. It is the third largest country of the African continent. In addition to Egypt, it borders Libya, Chad, the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Eritrea. It also has 530 miles (853 km) of coast along the Red Sea.
Sudan has a population of 37 million, 70 percent of whom are Arab. Other ethnic groups include the Nubians and the Zaghawa, but there are hundreds of different groups, speaking hundreds of languages or dialects. The official languages of Sudan are Arabic and English. The official religion is Islam, with the vast majority of Muslims adhering to the Sunni branch. There is a Christian presence of about one to two percent.
Sudan has been led by President Umar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir since 1993. In 2011, a referendum took place that resulted in the establishment of South Sudan. Six years on, disputes and negotiations between these two countries continue.
Sudan’s government is one of the most corrupt governments in the world. In Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index 2016 it scored 170 – fifth from the bottom, alongside Libya and Yemen. It is number five on Open Doors’ World Watch List, which ranks the persecution of Christians.
There were once many aid agencies and NGOs working in Sudan, but over the years workers and their organisations have been kicked out. Some have been expelled with very little notice, while others have been denied visa extensions. Properties have often been seized by the authorities.
It is very hard to be a Christian in Sudan, and there have been many cases where the authorities have held believers on false or exaggerated charges. Church buildings are regularly attacked and burned, while the police do little or nothing to catch the perpetrators.
- Lift up President al Bashir, along with his government. Pray for the salvation of these men. May the Holy Spirit open their eyes to the truth and may that truth set them free from evil desires for power and wealth.
- Pray for young people in Sudan, who account for at least 40 percent of the population. Education is poor, but with increasing internet usage may they be exposed to new ways of thinking. May they become aware of the high levels of corruption and seek to stand apart from what has become acceptable.
- Pray for tribes to become more tolerant of each other. May they seek to work together and not fight each other.
- Pray that the government will allow organisations to return or begin new work in the country, recognising the benefit of their presence.
- Pray for the protection of churches and individual believers in the country, and for the release of those who are held prisoner by the authorities. May the Holy Spirit help them persevere in their faith.
- Lift up the good work our Sudanese brothers and sisters are doing, particularly in reaching out to those who have not yet heard the gospel. May their ministries be long and fruitful.
Thank you for your prayers!
The Arab World Media Team
Next month: Palestine